The 10 Most Filling Foods (SLIDESHOW)
Even for the healthiest of eaters, good intentions can fly out the window when your stomach begins to rumble. If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, finding the right kind of foods — healthy foods that will fill you up for the longest amount of time — is essential. “Clients who are trying to lose weight tell me they get hungry every three to four hours,” says nutritionist Beth Kitchin, RD, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. “You’re supposed to feel hungry that often, so eating low-energy density foods, meaning those high in nutrients, can really help.” High-protein foods, high-fiber foods, and healthy fats are all on the top 10 list of most filling foods.
Snack on Sweet Prunes
The images associated with them are sometimes less than flattering, but as a filling food, you can’t beat prunes for a sweet, satisfying snack, says Kitchin. Prunes are also a high-fiber food, which means they help you feel full longer and feature healthy <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/balanced-living/potential-health-benefits-of-an-antioxidant-rich-diet.aspx">antioxidants</a>. You can also include prunes in a great dinner entrée. Try this sweet and savory <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/chicken-with-green-olives--prunes.aspx">Chicken with Green Olives and Prunes</a>.
Go Crazy for Nuts
Filling, but not sweet snacks such as pistachios, almonds, pecans, nuts, and seeds — all of which have plenty of <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/weight/weight-loss-and-fat.aspx">healthy fats</a> in them — will help you feel full longer because of their fat and protein content. For the same reasons, you have to keep the serving size reasonable, say 6 to 12 nuts. Try combining nuts with dried fruit for a high-fiber snack, or include them in a side dish, such as <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/orangescented-green-beans-with-toasted-almonds.aspx">Orange-Scented Green Beans with Toasted Almonds</a>, to help manage weight.
Fill Up First on Vegetables
Here’s why vegetables are key to feeling full longer: “There’s strong research that shows people eat the same weight of food every day,” says Kitchin. This factor is crucial to your weight management strategy. When you get hungry, eat vegetables — which are low in calories — in place of higher-calorie food items. These high-fiber foods will help you feel full longer and stay slender. Salads are a classic filler, but you can also add extra veggies to cooked dishes for volume, as in this hearty <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/greek-chicken--vegetable-ragout.aspx">Greek Chicken and Vegetable Ragout</a>.
Get Going With Oatmeal
Nothing says comfort in the morning like a warm bowl of oatmeal, a high-fiber food that can help you feel full longer and manage weight. “Oatmeal is very high in <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health/fiber-and-constipation.aspx">fiber</a>, and it is also falls into the category of low-energy density,” says Kitchin. Oatmeal can be a little bland on its own, but you can liven it up by adding low-fat milk, sliced fruit, and a sprinkling of nuts for an indulgent yet healthy breakfast. Try this <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/filling-morning-oatmeal.aspx">Filling Morning Oatmeal</a> or bake your own <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/great-big-oatmealspice-cookies.aspx">Great Big Oatmeal Spice Cookies</a>.
Start Your Meal With Soup
“There’s a lot of studies showing that if you have soup before a meal, you’re going to eat less,” says Kitchin. That’s vital to help manage weight and enjoy <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/meal-planning/eating-out/6-rules-for-eating-out.aspx">eating out</a>. Opt for a broth-based soup full of high-fiber foods rather than a creamy, salty concoction. Homemade soups are great to make when you have time, and then freeze for a quick meal when you need it. For variety, try soups that are served hot, like <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/pork-white-bean--kale-soup.aspx">Pork, White Bean, and Kale Soup</a> brimming with filling foods, as well as summery soups that are served cold, such as <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/shrimp-gazpacho.aspx">Shrimp Gazpacho</a>.
Go For a Dip
Noshing on <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/101/nutrition-basics/fruits-and-vegetables.aspx">vegetables</a> is a classic strategy to manage weight, but Kitchin says you’ll feel full longer if you allow yourself a little savory dip to go along with those carrot and zucchini sticks. The flavor and the fat will keep you feeling full longer and can help your body absorb nutrients like beta-carotene more effectively. Try a little salad dressing, or whip up a batch of creamy, delicious <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/hummus-1.aspx">hummus</a>.
Load Up on Lean Protein
Try to include <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/meal-planning/shopping/grading-meat.aspx">protein</a> in your meals or snacks if you want to feel full longer. “Research shows that foods high in protein will help satisfy your hunger,” says Kitchin. In fact, a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet is an effective strategy to manage weight for some people. Animal and plant proteins all add to your sense of fullness. Savor a meal that combines protein with high-fiber foods, such as <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/catfish-with-black-bean-and-avocado-relish.aspx">Catfish with Black Beans and Avocado Relish</a>.
Count on Beans and Other Legumes
Lentils and chickpeas are more nutritious, filling high-fiber foods that can be included in a number of different types of entrees and <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/meal-planning/snacking/healthy-snacking.aspx">healthy snacks</a>. Because beans can add up to a lot of calories if you eat more than a serving or two, you might want to combine them with vegetables and whole grains for a more complex meal that will keep you feeling full longer. And best of all, beans and legumes are inexpensive. Try <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/curried-lentils-and-carrots-on-couscous.aspx">Curried Lentils and Carrots on Couscous</a>, a great vegetarian choice to manage weight.
Don't Skimp on Potato Skins
The humble potato — with its skin on — is uniquely comforting, and also happens to be one of the best sources of <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/sources-of-potassium.aspx">potassium</a> you can include in your diet (followed by bananas). Eating the skin is what makes the spud a nutritious, high-fiber food that’s also filling. Tasty toppings will add to your sense of satisfaction. Try these <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/stuffed-potato-skins.aspx">Stuffed Potato Skins</a> as a main dish, or simply sprinkle on favorite herbs, chives, or a zesty salsa on top of a baked potato for a filling side.
Pick Some Fabulous Fresh Fruit
Many fruits are high-fiber foods. They’re also high in water content and flavor — and very satisfying for their low <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/weight/three-calorie-counting-rules-for-weight-loss.aspx">calorie counts</a>. An apple, or a serving of grapes or berries, all make the list of most filling foods. Keep fresh fruit on hand for an easy snack when you’re trying to lose or manage weight, or opt for a lush dessert such as <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/baked-apples-with-dried-fruits--walnuts.aspx">baked apples with dried fruit and walnuts</a>, or experiment with fruit in an entree, such as <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/fish-veronique.aspx">Fish Veronique</a> with tangy grapes.