“Sorry for the things I said when I was hungry.” Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there — that dreaded feeling of extreme hunger that all too quickly turns into anger. I think we can all agree — hanger is unenjoyable for all parties involved!
So, if you’re tired of hunger pains, mood swings, and mid-day energy dips, we’ve got good news — a healthy list of the most filling foods to prevent hunger! We’re breaking down what makes a food filling, and giving you delicious (registered-dietician-approved) suggestions for what to eat when you are hungry.
What Makes a Food Filling?
If you find yourself snacking more often than not, it may be time to add foods that will fill you up into your diet! The most filling foods to prevent hunger are primarily whole, unprocessed foods, that contain satiating nutrients such as fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Reasons Why You Always Feel Hungry
Lack of Fiber
If you feel like you’re a bottomless pit, you may not be eating enough fiber! High fiber foods digest more slowly in the body, causing one to feel more full for longer periods of time, says Kelli Fierras, Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer, and founder of Get Well With Kel, a private practice offering everything from running programs to nutrition counseling. High fiber foods cause a lower and more gradual rise in blood sugars, says Fierras. When you’re feeling hungry, swap out fiberless foods like refined grains for more fiber-rich foods that will fill you up like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Not Eating Enough Satiating Foods
Low-calorie foods tend to make us feel full in the moment; however, it usually isn’t long-term, says Fierras. Have you ever eaten a big salad made strictly with veggies, only to find yourself back in the kitchen longing for a snack? If you aren’t adding any protein or fat to the salad, you may notice you are hungry an hour or so later. This is a tell-tale sign you’re not eating enough foods that will fill you up!
Your body is smart. If you’re constantly cutting out specific food groups,(such as fats or starches, which happen to be some of the most filling foods to prevent hunger), this could leave you feeling hungry and unfulfilled, says Fierras.
While low-carb, high-fiber diets are thought to enhance satiety and promote weight loss, research suggests carbohydrates rich in fiber can have the same effect! So, don’t be so quick to cut these important nutrients out of your diet.
Rather than restricting these tasty foods from your diet, incorporate them in a healthy way!
Up Your Protein Intake
Eating protein-rich foods has been shown to increase our feeling of fullness, says Fierras. When protein is combined with carbohydrates, this can help control our blood sugar levels. If you’re looking for some protein-rich snacks, try these R.D. approved foods that will fill you up:
- Banana with peanut butter
- Homemade Trail mix
- Greek yogurt mixed with berries
- Chia pudding mixed with fruit
Too much of a good thing? An overload of sugar may lead to an insatiable craving! Simple carbohydrates (carbohydrates composed of glucose and fructose) are quickly utilized for energy by the body. However, this can lead to a spike in blood sugar, says Fierras. The more sugar we consume, the more we crave!
Look at your overall day when it comes to food intake, suggests Fierras. Sometimes when we are always hungry, it’s because we aren’t finding a good balance with macronutrients. If we don’t consume enough foods that fill us up (such as protein, carbs, and fats), our blood sugar can decrease at an abnormal rate, causing us to feel hungry and crave more sweets. Make sure you’re filling your plate with adequate proportions of the most filling foods to promote satiety.
List of Foods That Fill You Up
If you’re wondering what to eat when you feel hungry, look no further. Avocados contain more potassium than a banana, may support healthy cholesterol levels, and contribute close to 20 vitamins and minerals per serving. If that’s not enough to make you want to eat this delicious fruit (yes, avocados are a fruit!) consider this — one medium avocado contains 10 satiating grams of fiber, and is rich in essential fatty acids!
Nuts are some of the most filling foods and can be easily incorporated into a healthy diet.
Nuts are rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, are full of weight-supporting nutrients like calcium, and contain all three macronutrients: proteins, carbs, and fats. This makes them a great option when considering what foods fill you up — they are energy-dense and very filling without causing weight gain when incorporated into a healthy diet.
Try adding a variety of different nuts (such as brazil nuts, almonds, and walnuts) — this will help ensure you get a wide range of nutrients!
RELATED: The 4 Healthiest Nuts to Eat According to Experts
The high protein and omega-3 content in fatty fish (such as tuna or salmon) is a great way to keep hunger at bay. The fatty acids in seafood are known to support heart health, but did you know they can support brain health too? In addition to being one of the most filling foods, fish may even boost mood!
Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein, says Fierras, which can help contribute to feelings of satiety. A 2011 study tested the satiety levels of those who ate eggs, chicken, or potatoes for lunch. In comparison with the potato, the study showed eggs had a significantly higher satiating effect! To get the most nutritional value from these foods that will fill you up, it’s important to eat both the egg yolk and egg white to get the omega-3s and maximum protein content.
RELATED: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Avoid The Egg Yolk
There’s a reason oatmeal is a notorious breakfast option on any menu. Oatmeal is one of the most filling foods to prevent hunger and is just as delicious as it is healthy. Oats can be incorporated into smoothies, made into overnight oats, baked into oatmeal, or made traditionally on the stove-top (hello, apple pie oats!). The soluble fiber (beta-glucan) in oatmeal is what makes us feel so full!
RELATED: How to Make Overnight Oats + 5 Variations to Keep You Full Until Lunch
If you’re wondering what foods fill you up, you can’t go wrong with extra veggies. Vegetables are rich in fiber which adds bulk to meals, says Fierras. Try filling half of your plate with veggies (start with leafy greens, then incorporate other veggies ranging in colors), which will help fill you up while keeping the rest of your proportions of macronutrients in balance!
Nature’s candy. When you’re searching for what to eat when you are hungry (while also satisfying your sweet tooth), reach for fiber-rich fruits like berries! Berries are filled with antioxidants, phytonutrients, and are rich in fiber, helping to slow down digestion and keep you feeling full for longer, says Fierras.
#8 Chia Seeds
If you’re looking to boost the fiber content of any meal, add a sprinkle of chia seeds — one of the most filling foods to prevent hunger! One tablespoon of chia seeds provides 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, and less than 60 calories! Try making a yummy chia seed pudding that will satisfy your dessert cravings, provide satiety, and meet your protein needs.
RELATED: How to Make Chia Pudding + 6 Delicious Flavor Variations
Hungry Before Bed? Tips To Combat The Late Night Munchies
Do you constantly find yourself hungry after dinner? Before you consider what to eat when you are hungry, consider why you might be hungry! Here are some reasons you may feel hungry at night, according to an R.D.
You may not have eaten enough at dinner, try increasing your portion sizes!
Make sure you are making an effort to have carbohydrates, protein, and fat during dinner. Balance is key to satiety!
Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day and with your meals. You may be thirsty, not hungry!
Is there a post-dinner food pattern? If you always find yourself hungry after dinner, ask yourself — is it a habit, or is it hunger? Reaching for certain foods (like something sweet) may not have anything to do with what foods fill you up, it may just be habitual!
But, bedtime snacking isn’t all bad! When late-night hunger strikes, be prepared with healthy food choices! If you do find yourself hungry after dinner, try these healthy R.D.-approved late-night snacks.
It’s not always about food! When hunger strikes, the answer may not be as simple as eating foods that will fill you up! Fierras suggests your hunger pains could actually be due to a lack of shut-eye.
If you’re feeling hungry, it may mean you’re not getting enough sleep. There are two main hormones that help regulate hunger: ghrelin and leptin. When we are sleep-deprived, our ghrelin levels spike, and leptin levels fall — this causes us to feel hungry. So, before you prioritize what to eat when you are hungry, try looking at your sleep patterns first! Consider if this area needs some work, says Fierras.
Other Tips To Consider:
Drink adequate water throughout the day. Eat every 2-4 hours (balancing carbs, fat, and protein at each meal and snack). Keep a food journal so you can see when you are most hungry throughout the day and if there is a pattern. And, don’t restrict yourself! Instead of cutting out an entire food group or meal, consider what foods fill you up and make healthy swaps — you’ll stay satiated while satisfying your cravings!
Need more healthy food inspiration? With FitOn PRO, you can browse our library of delicious and nutritious meals and choose what’s right for you.