Cutting carbs, calories: You lose weight, that's for sure. But those between-meal hunger pains are vicious. Can you make it home tonight without chewing off your hand?
For more than a decade, nutritionists have investigated this issue of "satiety" -- feeling full -- to help us fight off hunger pains.
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.
It's the grapes versus raisins concept: 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.
Also, a tiny bit of fat helps you last longer. Your system burns carbs in an hour or two, so the hunger pains hit midmorning. If you add a little fat to your breakfast, low-fat rather than skim milk, or low-fat yogurt, or a smear of peanut butter on a bagel, you're not hungry so soon afterward.
5 Foods to Try
- Soup. Start with a broth-based soup (rather than higher-calorie cream soups). Add your favorite cut-up veggies, plus a protein such as beans, chicken, or fish, so you have all the elements of an energy-dense, satisfying meal.
- Smoothies. If they're made with low-fat yogurt and loads of fruit, you're getting protein, fiber, and calcium.
- Pasta primavera. Start with whole-wheat pasta, and then add a bunch of your favorite sautéed veggies, which can be pretty darn good. The more you increase the proportion of vegetables to pasta, the greater the satiety.
- 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.
- Big salads. A meal-sized salad needs a small amount of grated cheddar cheese, grilled chicken, & low-fat dressing, plus an abundance of fruits and veggies to provide satiety.