If you are a client and/or have read my previous articles, you’ll know that I’m against labelling a single food as “good” or “bad” and that the whole diet and context of the situation needs to be considered.
…However, there are certainly foods which are more favourable within a diet than others, when trying to lose weight. For a simple reason: satiety per calorie. Satiety per calorie means how much of a feeling of “fullness” a food gives you per calorie of the food. It is of utmost importance to focus dieting around foods which give you a good amount of satiety per calorie, to reduce hunger and improve adherence to the diet.
What makes a food filling?
Foods high in fibre, protein, fat, or a combination of these, tend to be filling. Foods high in fibre and/or protein while being low in fat and carbs tend to be more filling per calorie. As such, we should focus on eating and drinking a large amount of protein and fibre during our weight loss phases; protein has more benefits than simply synthesising into muscle tissue! Foods high in water content, or other calorie-free liquid, also make us more full for a low amount of calories. This is why I recommend low calorie-soups or large amounts of liquids during meal time, when dieting.
The image on the left was obtained from http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/fullness-factor. This website is a great resource for checking out nutritional data of foods and seeing which foods will be more satiating per calorie. As you can see, many fruits and vegetables are high on the list of satiety per calorie and so should be eaten in abundance if we are having hunger issues. Some fruits are more filling than others though: for example watermelon has a fullness factor (FF) of 4.5 (due to the huge liquid content) whereas bananas only has that of 2.5. Lean meats also have a high FF. As we have higher protein requirements when we are in a weight loss phase, AND we are more likely to be hungry which can reduce diet adherence, we should increase lean meat consumption.
Within the table, all of the foods at the top of the chart are those typically considered “healthy” foods whereas those at the bottom are often labelled “unhealthy”. This supports why we should focus the majority of our diet around lean meats and fruits/vegetables, to hit protein, fibre, and micronutrient targets, AND stay full, and then work in tastier foods around these. Inevitably, you will get hungry when you have been dieting long enough and have reached low body fat levels, but having an understanding of satiety per calorie will make your weight loss journey a whole lot easier to bear.
- Focus the majority of your diet around foods with a high fullness factor if you suffer from hunger during weight loss phases.