Have you ever noticed that some meals keep you feeling full for hours while others leave you scrounging for a snack in what seems like no time at all? You’re not alone. Research conducted by Sydney University in Australia found that a food’s ability to keep you feeling full (also known as its satiety) does vary depending on a number of different factors. Here is what the research says.
The Satiety Index
Dr. Susanna Holt of the Sydney University in Australia organized a study in which a group of volunteers consumed 240 calories of one of 38 different foods. Their feelings of fullness were tracked over the next two hours, after which they were able to eat whatever they wanted. The results showed that foods high in protein, fiber, and water had higher satiety ratings (with boiled potatoes providing the highest results), while foods high in fats had lower ratings. (Sorry, croissant lovers: this pastry was the least filling.) Foods full of fiber and water help to fill up your stomach, leaving you fuller and less interested in snacking between meals.
It is clear that some foods leave you feeling fuller for longer, but is this the only thing to take into consideration when creating a diet for weight loss? Not necessarily. While feeling full can certainly make you more likely to stick with a weight loss plan as well as make snacking less tempting, making your food choices based on satiety alone does not take nutritional value into account.
Your body needs a variety of nutrients to function properly. Cutting out fats in order to feel fuller will simply cause issues in other areas. Diets lacking in fat are associated with fatigue and depression, both of which can make it difficult to engage in regular exercise, another cornerstone of weight loss. Considering a food’s energy density instead of just its satiety index can help you find a balance.
A food’s energy density is the amount of energy (calories) it contains per gram. Foods with low energy density (such as green salads or broth-based vegetable soups) tend to be high in fiber, water, and complex carbohydrates, while foods with high energy density (such as nuts and avocados) tend to be high in fat. Research shows that low energy density foods tend to leave you feeling fuller for longer while providing high levels of micronutrients.
Finding a Balance
Finding a balance of nutritious foods that will leave you feeling full without burdening you with too many calories can be difficult, but you can receive expert guidance from a source close to home: your chiropractor. Chiropractic care focuses on patients as a whole, making advice about day-to-day lifestyle choices—including exercise, sleep and stress management as well as nutrition—a cornerstone of our practice. We will take the time to understand your health history, current lifestyle and wellness goals so that we can make the best possible recommendations in each of these areas. If you’re interested in dietary strategies that can help you reach your goals—including strategies involving menu selection—please contact our office!