Hunger can be one of your biggest enemies as a fitness enthusiast! Think about all the meals you prepared, stacked in the fridge, labeled, and ate to reach your desired goals. But when the hunger hits, sometimes all you want to eat is a little unhealthy snack or a little treat to get you through the low blood sugar phase right to the next labeled food container with a planned meal. Although unplanned snacking does not seem like a big deal, it can be a never ending vicious cycle of binge eating and detrimental unconscious series of meals pulling you away from your goals. Being hungry at the wrong time can lead to many things but your fitness goals and I am going to talk about some foods you want to stock up on that will help you feel full and satisfied while pushing you closer to that six-pack!
Fiber & Fat
Fiber is your best friend when looking for suppressing hunger for a variety of reasons. Soluble and insoluble fiber helps with adding bulk to your meals without adding too many calories and provides a feeling of fullness throughout the consumption process. Additionally, higher fiber consumption has been linked to lowering a risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, diabetes, obesity and others. Fiber is mainly found in foods such as oats, bran, grains, fruits, beans, peas or fruits so focusing on including some of these foods at your meals will ensure a higher fiber consumption that will lead to you being more satisfied after eating a meal.
Healthy sources of fat are also a way to battle cravings and suppress hunger efficiently. Out of the three macronutrients, fat takes the longest time for your body to digest, followed by protein and carbohydrates, making it a fair assistant in controlling hunger and temptations to order that large pizza and a can of pop! You can find healthy fat sources in foods you probably already have in your pantry such as eggs, flaxseed, avocados, nut butter, olive oil, etc. The only thing to keep in mind with a fat consumption is that fat is very calorie dense food – containing 9 calories/gram in opposed to around 4 calories/gram for proteins and carbs.
Salads are a great food choice to keep the hunger away for numerous reasons. Vegetables generally provide a really high volume of food for the relatively low amount of calories (unless you drown the vegetables in dressings) and are very easy to prepare on the go. Virtually all you need to prepare a salad is a cutting board, a knife, and a bowl and you are good to go with your meal in less than 5 minutes! A huge variety of choices of vegetables is another reason for choosing a salad when you are feeling hungry. Vegetables contain a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that will not only keep you more satisfied and fuller for longer but will greatly benefit your body at the same time! My favorite is an easy spinach salad with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes topped with some sunflower seeds! Or you could check plenty of other options here!
Beans and legumes, in general, have a high fiber content, however, lentils and peas are particularly fiber-dense foods. One cup of cooked lentils contains approximately 16 grams of fiber supplying over a half of recommended daily intake in just one meal! Besides the fiber content, lentils are a great source of protein and carbs with minimal fats, making it a great choice for lunch or dinner! Additionally, lentils are very budget friendly and cost around 1.50$ in major grocery stores but it also depends on the state you live in!
Coconut in form of a coconut flour or just a packed shredded coconut it a great healthy fat addition in your diet. Two tablespoons of a shredded coconut will supply your diet with 2g of dietary fiber and approximately 10g of healthy fats, making it a great extra ingredient in an oatmeal bowl, baking, or a yogurt topping in the afternoon! I love mixing some shredded coconut with protein oats topped with some sliced almonds to bring together candy-like flavors of a healthy breakfast.
Greek yogurt is much higher in protein content and contains fewer calories and carbs than regular yogurt types. If you buy the flavored type of Greek yogurt, you will need to watch out for the added sugars that make the flavor of your choice. Plain dairy is usually a safe bet for me as I know I am not getting any hidden sugars and sweeteners, just plain gains! Greek yogurt mixes very well with fruits like berries (also a great hunger fighter), bananas, apples, or with smoothies and protein shakes to get you through that mid-afternoon hunger slump in a healthy way!
Soups are another amazing way to bring a lot of volume and food for a limited number of calories. Soups are as easy as dumping loads of vegetables and some protein in a water, spicing things up, and cooking on a stove until thoroughly cooked. They are great on a cold day after work but work well as a quick snack as well. By using vegetables, you’re giving the soup plenty of vitamins and minerals as well as volume while your daily calories won’t take a big hit. Try combining soups with some of your favorite meats, with beans, or just plain with vegetables for a really low-calorie snack to help you push that hunger away!
Take Home Message
Plenty of foods are available to help suppress hunger and keep your fitness goals in check with a proper nutrition without too many cheat meals. The important factor is that you experiment with a variety of foods, dishes, and snacks and see what works best for you. If you see that certain foods are keeping you satisfied and productive throughout your day you are probably on to something! Fitness and leading a healthy lifestyle should be enjoyable and eating healthy is a joy worth experimenting with instead of sticking to the same few meal combinations and eating them forever!