If you’ve ever dieted, or happen to be dieting now, you know that by cutting carbs and calories you’ll lose weight, that’s for sure. But those between-meal hunger pains are vicious.
For more than a decade, nutritionists have investigated the issue of “satiety” — feeling full — to help us fight off hunger pains. The truth is by simply cutting calories and eating less you’ll often feel hungry, and worse “deprived”. Use these strategies, and soon you’ll be eating more, and feeling great.
Energy density: Volume versus calories
Feel full on fewer calories? It sounds like a diet gimmick. But in reality, the concept of energy density can indeed help you feel satisfied with fewer calories. In fact, well planned weight-loss diets use this concept to help you lose weight and keep it off long term.
Three factors play an important role in what makes food less calorie packed and more filling:
Water – Many fruits and vegetables are high in water, which provides volume but not calories.Grapefruit, for example, is about 90 percent water and has just 38 calories in a half-fruitserving. Carrots are about 88 percent water and have only 52 calories in 1 cup. Don’t forgetthe beloved watermelon, coming in at about 45 calories a slice. It’s the grapes versus raisinsconcept: A cup and a half of grapes equals ¼ cup raisins for a snack that is about 100 calories.The water in grapes lets you eat more, so you feel fewer hunger pains.
Fiber -High-fiber foods — such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains — not only provide volume, but also take longer to digest, making you feel full longer. Start with whole-wheat pasta, and then add abunch of your favorite sautéed veggies. Some of these new multi-grain pastas with Omega-3’s are reallytasty. The more you increase the proportion of vegetables to pasta, the greater the satiety. A high-fiberdiet may also help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. When introducing more fiber in your dietbe sure to have adequate fluid intake…lots and lots of water.
Fat – Most fruits and vegetables do not contain a lot of fat. Fat raises energy density. One teaspoon of butter contains almost the same number of calories as 2 cups of raw broccoli;. but a tiny bit of fat helpsyou last longer. Your system burns carbs in an hour or two, so the hunger pains hit shortly after. If youadd a little fat to your meals, or snacks you’re not hungry so soon afterward. Think about substitutingolive oil instead of butter whenever possible.
By strategically increasing a meal’s water and fiber content — with the addition of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains — you can dramatically cut the calories per portion.Try these simple suggestions:
- Soup. Start with a broth-based soup (rather than higher-calorie cream soups). Addyour favorite cut-up veggies, plus a protein such as beans, chicken, or fish, so you haveall the elements of an energy-dense, satisfying meal.
- Smoothies. If they’re made with low-fat yogurt and loads of fruit, you’re gettingprotein, fiber, and calcium.
- Popcorn. It’s truly energy dense, plus there’s the volume effect. If you have air-popped popcorn (and don’t add fat to it), you get a huge amount. That’s good because it gives you lots of sensory satisfaction. There’s research showing that the perception of eating a whole lot can trick the system, says webMD.
- Big salads. A meal-sized salad needs grated cheddar cheese, low-fat dressing, plus an abundance of fruits and veggies to provide satiety. If I just have vinegar and veggies in a saladyou’re likely to be hungry a few hours later.