Some people find themselves getting hungry just a short while after they’ve eaten, whether it was a little snack or a whole meal. The truth is that the problem might not be the quantity, but the quality, of the food you’ve eaten. A lot of foods, even otherwise healthy ones, lack certain proteins or fiber, so they actually leave you feeling hungry. On the other hand, a simple replacement, or even preparing your favorite foods in a different way, can have the opposite effect: making you feel satisfied.
We love to study the science behind food and nutrition, so we’re sharing foods that can leave you feeling hungry (and telling you what you should eat instead). Don’t forget to check out our bonus, which shows why it’s important to shop around.
1. French fries
French-fried potatoes are filled with trans fats and salt that harm the hormones in our stomachs that are related to helping us feel full. And adding ketchup, which contains high fructose corn syrup, doesn’t help. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy potatoes: just have them boiled. This way, you enjoy more vitamins and resistant starch, which works like fiber, satisfies hunger, and gets you to eat fewer calories.
2. Fruit juice
You might think that your glass of orange juice is making you a little bit healthier each day, but it can actually make you hungry. That’s because it lacks an important part of the fruit that makes it so filling: the fiber. In addition, this beverage can spike your blood sugar, cause you to crash, and make you feel hungry. The healthier alternative is water with pieces of fruit in it.
3. Low-fat yogurt
Yogurts are known for being healthy, especially the low-fat variants, but they can still leave you feeling kind of hungry. Just shop around when it comes to yogurt. Avoid ones that are high in carbs. Plain Greek-style or strained yogurt has enough protein to keep you satisfied.
4. Granola bars
You might turn toward granola bars for an easy snack, but they can leave you wanting more. They might be low in calories, but traditional bars are filled with sugar and oil. For a snack, try some popcorn to fill you up. Because of its volume, it can help fill up your stomach without taking in too many calories. Just make sure to avoid adding too many fats, like butter flavoring, and try the air-popped versions of this snack.
Back when we were babies, a protein in milk called casein kept us wanting more, and we never really grew out of it. Cheese and many other dairy products have a similar effect on us well into adulthood. One form of cheese that skirts the issue is cottage cheese, which is high in proteins that keep you feeling full, while being low in calories. It actually has a similar effect to eating eggs.
6. Egg white omelets
Speaking of eggs, be careful when cooking them. When preparing eggs, like in an omelet, a lot of people might forgo the yolks to have a healthier dish. But when it comes to filling you up, yolks have fats in them that can help you stay full longer and help you absorb the nutrients from the eggs.
7. Salad dressing
Even fat-free salad dressings can contain salt and sugar to keep their flavor. And we get into the habit of pouring so much of it, so that every piece of lettuce is covered. Get into the habit of eating your salad dry and add some protein like fish or lean meat.
8. Chewing gum
People like to chew gum to trick their minds into thinking they’re eating without actually chowing down on calories. But this classic trick actually produces the opposite effect: as gastric juices prepare in your stomach, your body can make you feel hungry. It’s better to just eat something simple to fill you up. If you want a quick snack, try nuts, like almonds and walnuts. Not only are they high in filling, healthy fats and proteins, but they also need to be chewed properly (like gum). Chew your almonds 40 times and you’ll feel more full than if you eat them quickly.
Fruit is always a safe bet at making you feel full, and apples can do the trick. But there’s a catch: you should never eat apples on their own. They can cause a glucose spike that gets digested quickly. Add another protein, like nuts, and have a snack platter.
Bagels are nice and simple, but they barely have any fiber or nutrients, which is bad for your blood sugar. The trick is to combine them with a protein, and make a breakfast sandwich, with an egg or a slice of smoked salmon.
Cereals with sugar or artificial sweeteners lack fiber and protein, but breakfast is important for keeping your blood sugar stable for the day. Even diet cereals that are low in calories can have low fiber. Hot cereal like oatmeal is a better alternative, thanks to its high fiber content and ability to soak up water.
Bonus: Asian takeout
Traditionally, a lot of popular foods from Asian-style takeout restaurants are prepared with MSG, which can make you feel hungry after you eat. The important thing is to shop around, as many modern Asian restaurants and takeaways have found alternatives to MSG. If you are just in the mood to get takeout, try Japanese sushi or sashimi. Neither are traditionally prepared with MSG, plus fish is also known to help you feel full.
What are some foods that you feel leave you wanting more? Which do the trick and keep you satisfied? Please share with us in the comments!