With the right foods, you can fill up while trimming down.
On the quest to lose weight, many people suffer through days of hunger and low energy—but they don’t have to. Feeling full doesn’t depend on how many calories you eat, but on the amount of food you eat. By choosing the right kinds of foods in the right combination, you can still eat a healthy low-calorie diet and feel full and energized to make it through your day.
What foods and drinks should you stock your kitchen with to lose weight? The answer is simple and includes three things: water, protein, and fiber.
Start with H2O
Many people confuse hunger with thirst. You may feel the need to fill your stomach with something, but it may not have to be food. Before eating a snack or meal, drink a glass of water.
Water is a dieter’s best friend. It contains absolutely no calories, and it is essential to flush toxins out of your system. Since your body is made mostly of water, all body systems function more efficiently with adequate hydration. This includes your metabolism.
In the event you’re still feeling hungry 15 minutes after drinking water, go ahead and eat. That drink of water will help fill your stomach so you’re less likely to overeat.
Pack on the Protein
Protein is the second ingredient that is vital to a successful diet. Foods high in protein generally take more time to chew (think meat and poultry) and therefore stay in your stomach for a longer time. Because they take more time to eat, when you eat protein, your mind has time to tell your body that it’s full. Also, proteins in your body slow the process of carbohydrates breaking down into fat, so you’ll feel full faster and for a longer period of time. With protein having such a great impact on your feelings of fullness, eat a source of protein for every snack and meal.
Low-fat dairy products are great options for a quick
protein pick-me-up. Mix a cup of fruit with plain low-fat yogurt or one-percent cottage cheese for breakfast. Then eat string cheese or a cheese wedge with a piece of fruit for a snack.
Eggs, lean meat, fish, and poultry are also rich in protein. Keep hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator for a quick and easy snack or breakfast. Later in the day, fill up on a lean chicken breast for lunch or salmon for dinner.
When mid-morning arrives and you know you can’t wait until lunch for food, all it takes is a handful of nuts. Almonds, peanuts, or pistachios are full of protein and keep you satisfied until the next meal. Just don’t eat chocolate-covered nuts. Remember—you’re trying to cut calories, not pile them on!
Fill Up with Fiber
The third diet-friendly foods are those full of fiber. Fiber, also called roughage, is the part of plant foods that isn’t digested by the body. Because of this, it stays in the digestive tract for longer and keeps you feeling full. Fiber also helps regulate your blood sugar levels so you don’t feel the highs and lows of energy changes. Sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains.
Naturally low in calories and fat, fruits and vegetables should be part of each meal. Keep in mind that the way you prepare these foods makes a difference in their calorie content. Adding sauces, butter, sugar, or frying them will lessen their health value. Fresh, raw fruits and veggies are great snacks that take little or no time to prepare.
You should also choose 100-percent whole-grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta over refined, white options. Eating oatmeal instead of sugary cold cereal for breakfast and brown rice rather than white for dinner are easy ways to increase the fiber in your diet and keep you feeling satisfied longer.
High in fiber as well as protein, beans are another great food for dieters. Replace high-fat beef with black beans in your tacos or pile chickpeas on your salad rather than fried chicken. You’ll save on calories and fill up at the same time.
Get to Sleep
Still hungry? Check your sleep schedule. Research has found that insufficient sleep lowers your level of leptin, a chemical that makes it possible for you to feel full before you overdo it.
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