Any effective weight loss plan will have a steady calorie deficit in place. With a calorie deficit comes the overall reduction of food consumed which inevitably leads to feelings of hunger.
This is where most come unstuck with a prolonged calorie deficit. The issue of dealing with cravings and hunger. Are there foods that reduce the feelings of hunger? Let me just point out that not all calories are equal, different foods follow different metabolic pathways when they enter the body. 200 calories worth of porridge in the morning is going to have a very different effect on your hunger and satiety than 200 calories worth of a croissant.
Foods can actually be ranked using the satiety index which was first tested in a groundbreaking Australian study in 1995. by Dr Susanna Holt(1) and her team using 38 different foods. The experimenters used 240 calorie servings of each food which were given to volunteers. The volunteers weren't given any more food for 2 hours and the experimenters observed the amount of food the volunteers consumed at an open buffet. The volunteers were also quizzed on how hungry they felt.
The experiments concluded that the more fibre, protein and water a food contained, the longer it would satisfy. The weight of food was also positively correlated to satiety.
The experimenters used white bread as a baseline to compare to all other foods. White bread is ranked at 100%.
They compiled this chart below:
So what are the most filling foods to eat? Well from the chart we can see that popcorn as a snack is very filling. You can eat a lot of popcorn without taking in that many calories - making it a good choice in terms of volume.
The most filling fruit is oranges for similar reasons. It's volume and weight means it's a very filling food to consume.
Unsurprisingly, porridge comes out on top of the breakfast cereals.
Protein rich foods generally score highly in the satiety index due to the protein being a filling macronutrient. Whitefish is the most filling protein source.
Interestingly for carbohydrates, brown and white rice don't score that high. They are right behind French fries and white pasta in terms of satiety. If you're looking for a carb to fill you up, look no further than boiled potatoes. They are incredibly filling and score the highest out of all the foods in the satiety index. This is due to the fact that they are high in protein and fibre as well as carrying a lot of volume.
There is another way of measuring satiety and it's through something called the fullness factor(2). The experimenters actually came up with a formula to calculate and predict how filling a food would be. This calculation took into account the nutrients in the food, e.g. The amount of water, protein, fibre and fat. They were then able to accurately predict how filling a food would be. The results are pretty similar to the satiety index.
Foods that contain large amounts of fat, sugar and/or starch have a low satiety level and are much easier to overconsume. Foods that contain large amounts of water, dietary fibre and/or protein have the highest satiety levels. Typically fruits, vegetables and lean meats have the highest satiety levels and do the best job at keeping off hunger.
So if you want to stick to your weight loss plan and get the best results, try to include as much of these types of foods. It will reduce your feelings of hunger and stop those cravings, which ultimately can make or break as to whether you achieve your weight loss goal.