There is nothing wrong with experiencing occasional bouts of hunger throughout the day, especially just before mealtimes or after a calorie-crushing workout. But feeling peckish can often lead to needless snacking, upending your six-pack goals.
If the simple act of strolling past a bakery or passing by the plate of treats in the office leaves your mouth watering, it’s time to find a way to beat hunger.
The key to staying satisfied with less food is to implement a diet that enhances satiety per calorie. In other words, for any given amount of food you eat during the day, your goal should be to make it as filling as possible. Do that, and your chances of succumbing to the cookie jar go way down.
Modern research suggests plenty of edibles have what it takes to keep you feeling full longer. Start with these foods that will slay the hunger demon within:
1. Black beans
A study published in Food & Nutrition Research found that people who ate a high-protein meal based on legumes (beans and peas) were less hungry afterward than when they ate a high-protein meal based on animal sources (veal and pork) when both meals were matched for total calories.
Thanks to their sky-high levels of dietary fibre, which works to slow digestion and improve blood-sugar control, legumes like black beans have serious hunger-crushing power for little calorie cost.
Research suggests that consuming 25-30 grammes of protein during meals can help to quell hunger pangs. A 5-ounce serving of salmon is enough to hit this protein sweet spot. Protein is a natural appetite suppressant. Like fibre, it can slow the pace of digestion, enabling your gut to send satiety signals to your brain over a longer period of time.
As a healthy bonus, salmon provides plenty of healthy polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids. A 2017 study found that a meal high in polyunsaturated fats like those found in fatty fish, walnuts, flax seed, and canola oil can raise levels of peptide YY, a hormone in the gut that works to reduce appetite.
If fresh salmon is beyond your means, get the same benefit for less money by using canned salmon.
Since snacking is often hard to avoid, you might as well make what you nibble on work for your waistline, not against it. Munching a handful of almonds when a snack attack strikes can help keep your caloric input—and your waistline—in check.
A recent study found that people who snacked on about 1½ ounces of almonds experienced less hunger and desire to eat afterward. After the four-week trial, the almond eaters had not added even an inch to their waistlines.
The fat, protein, and fibre found in almonds are a triple treat when it comes to satiety. Add them to your diet, and there’s a good chance you’ll eat less during the day.
In addition to making you, as Popeye says, “strong to the finish,” spinach can also help curb your appetite. Spinach is rich in thylakoids, a structure inside plant cells that promote the release of satiety hormones. As part of a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 60 overweight or obese people consumed either a spinach extract high in thylakoids or a placebo in random order at least a week apart. The results showed that the group consuming spinach extract reported higher rates of satiety for two hours longer than the group that consumed the placebo.
The researchers did not state how much actual whole-leaf spinach would need to be consumed to experience this same effect, but since this leafy green provides a treasure chest of vital nutrients, it’s worth adding more of it to your diet.