Satiety is the term used to explain that feeling of comfort that we feel for hours after eating a meal. It could also be called ‘lack of hunger’.
Why is satiety important for successful weight loss?
One of the biggest enemies of successful and sustainable weight loss and weight management is hunger. Another is any feelings of deprivation.
Hunger often leads to picking at foods that we deem as comfort foods (often sweets, cakes, and biscuits) foods that are easily accessible (straight out of a packet or box). It’s best not to have these in your home or workplace at all.
The other temptation is high calorie drinks like juices, soft drinks and alcohol.
Unfortunately, these foods often are also high in sugar (carbohydrates) and calories and lead to a blood sugar spike and the potential subsequent crash, which result in us often feeling hungry again in a short period of time.
This blood sugar crash leads to overeating (often with low nutrient and high caloric density foods) and is associated with obesity.
Foods to eliminate or cut back on contain sugar or starches which give a blood sugar response. These include highly processed foods such as biscuits, pastries, bread, whole grains, pasta and rice.
Many fresh fruits and starchy vegetables can also spike a blood sugar response.
Foods that are rich in fibre, protein and healthy fats are the most satiating, as they are digested slower and help us feel satisfied for longer.
Fibre provides bulk and helps you feel full for longer. It may slow stomach emptying and increase digestion time. Highest content fibre foods that are low in calories, high in water content, and filling include:
- Green leafy vegetables – artichoke, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale
- Berries (fresh or frozen)
- Kidney beans, lentils, edamame, split peas, chickpeas
- Oats (if you can tolerate the carbs in oats)
- Nuts and seeds
- Fresh coconut
- Dark chocolate
Protein is the most important nutrient for losing weight. It is energy dense but without the extra calories of fat. An eating plan with optimal protein has been shown to boost metabolism by 80-100 calories per day. This may be because protein has a high ‘thermic effect’ being the energy cost of digesting protein.
Animal proteins provide the best source of nutrients and includes meat from:
- Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, kangaroo, liver and seafood
Dairy products (if you can tolerate) provide a good source of protein and are low in fat and calories. These include:
- Greek yoghurt – popular, high protein breakfast and/or snack
- Cottage cheese, ricotta, quark, hard cheeses
Eggs are full of fat and protein – perfect for snacks or meals.
Plant proteins provide a reduced source of protein though often higher in fat and/or carbs and calories. Tofu and tempeh are among the richest sources but legumes (if you can tolerate) such as beans, chickpeas, lentils plus quinoa provide satiety.
Healthy fats (small portions) include:
- Avocado, olive, coconut or nut oils, seeds and nuts. Avoid manufactured seed (vegetable) oils.
Being satiated for a longer time after eating also reduces cravings, especially for sweet foods which can blow-out your weight and spike your blood sugars before crashing to a low, which invariably makes you feel hungry again. This yo-yo effect can spiral your weight to out of control, leading to weight gain.
Eating slowly also helps you eat less. If you don’t already… try putting your knife, fork or spoon down for half a minute after each bite. There is no rush.
After a meal, your gut suppresses a hormone called ghrelin, which controls hunger, while also releasing fullness hormones. These hormones tell your brain that you have eaten, reducing appetite, making you feel full, and helping you stop eating.
Drinking water not only keeps you hydrated but can give you a fullness effect. Drinking water 30 minutes before meals can reduce the amount of food you eat at each meal. Try clear soups or bone broth before a meal. They fill you up and may stay in the stomach longer, thus prolonging the feeling of being full.
A diet (or eating plan) that is lower in carbohydrates with optimal protein allows for longer periods between meals which keeps your blood sugars stabilised and hunger at bay.
When planning meals start with your ideal protein serve, add some healthy fat, and then load up half your plate with green leafy vegetables. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, eat slowly, and enjoy your food.
Enjoy your results!!
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