Many of us would have noticed that on some days, after a meal, we are satiated for a long time and on other days, the hunger pangs are back soon after eating.
The feeling of fullness after a meal is called satiety. It is often due to the kinds of micro and macronutrients we eat. There are certain nutrients in our food that help in keeping us full for a long time. Eating such foods will not only help in weight management as it prevents snacking between meals, but can give us other health benefits as well.
Foods that fuel us for long
Emi Koshy, a nutritionist from Bengaluru, says, “Foods rich in fibre, protein, and healthy fats give us the feeling of fullness as they have a high satiety index.” To kick start the day with a bowl of a hot porridge made of oats, millets or quinoa for breakfast can be an ideal option.
Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans, are typically high in fibre and protein. Including these in the diet is another way to keep hunger pangs and snacking at bay.
Koshy says it is important to have an appropriate combination of food for a meal. “A meal that includes whole grains such as brown rice, eaten with lentils soup (dal) along with a vegetable such as a carrot fry will help.”
Alternatively, one can also have soya chunks and dalia khichdi for a tasty and healthy lunch.
Divya Naik, a nutritionist from Bengaluru, suggests eating fruits such as apples, papaya, watermelon, pomegranate, and pineapple. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition says eating a whole fruit should be preferred: for example, an apple is more filling than a glass of apple juice.
Naik says, “Include vegetables such as beetroot, lady’s finger, snake gourd, ash gourd, ridge gourd, carrot, ivy gourd and bottle gourd in the diet.”
She adds that yoghurt or curd is a rich source of protein and a filling snack or an addition to a meal.
Nuts and seeds are high in healthy fats. Koshy says soaked nuts such as almonds and walnuts and pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds can be eaten along with fruits as a mid-meal snack.
Chia and flax seeds can also be sprinkled on oatmeal, yoghurt and salads.
Naik says non-vegetarian sources such as egg whites, skinless chicken breast, and fish can be eaten on alternative days.
Soups and stews have a high-water content and help in quelling appetite.
Benefits of high-satiety foods
Eating foods that will keep us full for a long time not only helps to maintain weight but also balances blood sugar levels.
Naik says the fibre content in these foods slows the process of digestion. This is especially good for people with diabetes as it will not raise blood sugar levels as much as the simple carbohydrates do.
According to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolism, a diet with moderately low carbohydrate content and high fibre, fat, and protein content gives increased satiety and reduces cravings for sweets.
As high-satiety foods are rich in fibre, they also help to maintain gut health by promoting healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. They provide sustained energy throughout the day. Additionally, they supply the nutrients necessary for the optimum functioning of the organs. A study suggests that eating nuts in moderation can also reduce the risk of several heart conditions.
Ultimately, what matters is eating unprocessed and natural food. According to a study published in the Natural Medicine Journal, eating heavily-processed foods may only increase appetite and contribute to obesity and all its unsavoury side effects.