Ever feel like you’re always hungry? The problem may be what’s on your plate. Meals and snacks are meant to be filling. Otherwise, you end up grazing all day and never feeling truly satisfied. But the fact is, certain foods are a lot better than others at handling your hunger. Here are seven that will keep you fuller longer (some of these may surprise you!):
No, eggs aren’t a nutritional villain—and choosing them for breakfast means you probably won’t have mid-morning hunger pangs. In a study of overweight women, those who ate eggs for their a.m. meal said they were more satisfied than those who had a bagel breakfast–and they ate less at lunchtime too.
In one study, men and women who added half an avocado to their lunch had less desire to eat up to five hours later than people who didn’t have avocado. Avocado is rich in heart-healthy fat, which is naturally satisfying. Mash it and spread on sandwiches instead of mayo or add dices to a salad.
Popcorn’s perk is volume—it takes up a lot of space, which the brain registers as satisfying. In one study, men and women who ate six cups of popcorn said they were less hungry afterwards than people who munched on a cup of potato chips, even though they ate fewer calories. Popcorn-eaters also ate less at a meal served afterwards. Popcorn is also a natural whole grain and rich in naturally-filling fiber.
All fresh fruit is filling because it’s rich in fiber and packs a lot of water. Water-rich foods activate stretch receptors in your stomach, and that sends signals to your brain that you’re getting full. Raspberries are one of the highest-fiber fruits, with 8 grams per cup—that’s about a third of what you need in the whole day. If fresh are too pricy, grab a bag of frozen berries to add to cereal and oatmeal (I like eating them right out of the bag because they taste like little bites of sorbet!).
Forget the outdated notion that potatoes are off-limits. In a ranking of 38 different foods, boiled potatoes won the honor of being most satisfying—beating out even protein-rich foods like beans and beef. Potatoes are rich in fiber (even more so if you leave the skin on).
Mushrooms have a low calorie-high volume combo that makes them effective hunger-fighters, even when swapped in for meat. In research published in Appetite, people who subbed in chopped white button mushrooms instead place of meat in lasagna and sloppy joes took in 300 fewer calories than meat-eaters (and reported the meals were just as delicious). Those who made the swap three times a week had lost about 7 pounds after a year.
All nuts are filling because they’re high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. A study in the European Journal of Nutrition found that when women ate almonds as a mid-morning snack, they reported being satisfied and ate less at lunch (and even dinner!). In other research, adding almonds to one meal or snack a day didn’t increase the risk for gaining weight—even though nuts are a calorie-dense food.