Man, I’m Full: The Most Filling Foods
As we strive toward a healthier diet, one of the most important things we should look for are foods that are full of fiber and protein but light on calories. The average male with a moderately active lifestyle should consume 2,400 to 2,800 calories per day, while the average woman needs between 2,000 and 1,800. While most people combat weight gain by switching to a lower-calorie diet, what we should do instead is focus on foods that are low in calories relative to their amounts of fiber and protein.
To help you improve your diet, we’ve created a list of some of the most filling foods and helpful information on how you can include more of them in your diet.
1. Boiled Potatoes
Potatoes get a bad rap when it comes to their nutritional content. Since we’re used to seeing them fried, we assume they’re horrible for us when it’s actually the opposite. Potatoes, when boiled rather than baked or fried in oil, bring lots of nutrients to your diet, including vitamins B6 and C, fiber, and protein. Boiled potatoes also make people feel extremely full, especially when they’re consumed with a protein-heavy meat dish like beef or pork. If you want to add a little more flavor to your boiled spuds, consider tossing them in a light vinaigrette with plenty of bright, fresh herbs.
No one disputes the fact that popcorn is extremely filling, which makes it surprising that it’s regularly sold in movie theaters in gigantic tubs. Most of the time, these massive tubs go unfinished because popcorn is just so filling. Popcorn has been eaten for centuries around the world, and although it’s generally considered a snack rather than a meal, it can be filling and nutritious. Regular popcorn has tons of dietary fiber, no sugar, and few calories. This makes it a great snack for those trying to limit their daily caloric intake.
Another food that’s filling and without sugar or carbohydrates is the humble egg. The average egg has 70 calories and 6mg of protein – that’s a huge amount of protein for such a tiny amount of food. While typical cooking methods for eggs usually add a small amount of oil or fat – scrambling or frying, for example – it is possible to reap the benefits of eggs without adding any additional calories. Try making a few hard-boiled eggs to eat them as a quick snack when you’re on the go. Poached eggs also don’t require any additional ingredients and make a great breakfast.
Many different cultures have their own version of cooked grain, but oatmeal is by far the most popular. Made with hulled oats, oatmeal is prepared by simply adding dried oats to water or milk and boiling it until it forms a cohesive porridge. Oatmeal is available in tons of different varieties, including quick-cooking, where oats are rolled into flakes and chopped up to encourage rapid cooking, and steel-cut oats, which are essentially just chopped whole oat kernels. While it’s true that less processed oats retain the largest percentage of their nutrients, all forms of oatmeal make a filling meal. Every 100-gram serving of oatmeal contains 2.5 grams of protein, as well as tons of fiber.
Another great food to eat to ensure you feel fuller longer is fish. There are tons of varieties to choose from, but generally all fish contains lots of protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which are integral to maintaining a good metabolism. Fish can also decrease the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. In tests to determine which foods cause the most satiety in humans, fish was the second-highest food rated. It’s very easy to feel full after consuming fish. Like most foods, fish starts to lose many of its nutritional benefits if it’s deep-fried or covered in unhealthy ingredients, so stick to simple preparations like steaming or baking.
6. Greek Yogurt
For those of us who are unfamiliar, Greek yogurt is simply regular yogurt strained to remove the excess water. Removing the moisture from regular yogurt makes Greek yogurt thicker and more satisfying. Even though it’s much thicker, Greek yogurt has fewer carbohydrates than regular yogurt, a mere 9 grams per cup, and around 50% less sodium. Eat it plain or add in some fresh berries or muesli for extra nutrients and fiber. You can also use it in sauces and soups in place of sour cream as a healthier alternative.
There are many different legumes out there, and they’re all super nutrient-dense – so much so that a mere handful can keep us full for hours. Some of the most common legumes include chickpeas, pinto beans, broad beans, lentils, peanuts, and lima beans. While they all have different nutrient profiles, legumes are all extremely high in fiber and protein. For example, one cup of chickpeas has 18% of our daily required protein, 30% of our daily fiber, and almost no sodium. Add any legume to soups or stews to instantly increase their protein, or make a tasty dip with boiled and pureed legumes spiced with oil and herbs.
In North America, we’re lucky to have many species of apples at our fingertips every time we walk into the grocery store. From sweet Ambrosia to tart Granny Smith, there’s an apple for every occasion. However, did you know apples are also one of the most nutrient-dense and filling foods? An apple’s flesh and skin are high in fiber and give us the most health benefits when eaten raw. Most apple desserts add in tons of sweeteners, which generally negates the apple’s many health benefits.
Another delicious fruit known for being very filling is the fig. Figs have been cultivated for their delicious fruit for centuries. Figs are eaten fresh, but as their thin skin makes transportation difficult, they’re most commonly found dried. Fresh and dried figs are extremely filling, but be careful that you don’t eat too many at once. Dried figs especially are an excellent source of fiber, and if you eat too many, you may find yourself quite constipated! Figs make an excellent snack when paired with cheese or dried cured meat like salami.
10. Lean Meat
Most people reach for meat when they want to feel full – and many claim there’s no substitute for the feeling of fullness that comes from eating a large steak or pork chop. While it’s true that meat is filling, it’s best to look for healthier sources of protein like chicken or turkey rather than pork and beef. Chicken or turkey breasts each give you at least 25 grams of protein per serving, as well as plenty of vitamins. Paired with a healthy serving of vegetables and some heart-healthy fats like olive oil, lean meats make an excellent, filling meal.
Quinoa is an excellent source of nutrients, and it should be a staple in everyone’s pantry. Although it isn’t there quite yet, quinoa’s popularity has been steadily growing for the last decade. Quinoa is considered a grain (well, technically a pseudocereal) that’s incredibly versatile. It only takes a few minutes to cook, and you can add quinoa into almost anything. Toast it and add it to muesli or granola, add it dry into a stew and watch it bulk it up, or use it as a side dish to scoop up saucy main dishes.
Another food group that’s incredibly filling, nutritious, and delicious is nuts. A tiny handful will keep you full for hours, and there are so many to choose from that you’ll never get tired of trying them all. Just make sure to reach for roasted varieties that pack flavor but have minimal salt so you aren’t loading your body full of sodium. Almonds, walnuts and pistachios are all high in protein, and make an easy snack on the go.