Keen to drop a few pounds? Losing weight is all about burning more calories than you consume, but this can leave you feeling hungry and liable to reach for the nearest chocolate bar, undoing all your good work.
Eating extra-filling low-calorie foods will help you stave off the hunger pangs and resist temptation. “If you’re increasing the portions of low calorie, high volume foods, then you will be left feeling fuller but without the added calories,” says registered dietitian Nichola Whitehead.
The Satiety Index, which was devised in the '90s, ranks 38 common foods in terms of their ability to hit the spot and satisfy hunger – foods that boast scores over 100% are most filling. These foods tend to be high in protein, fibre, resistant starch, volume and/or low in energy density. Here are the 10 most filling low calorie foods to stock up on, according to the index.
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Lentils – Satiety Index = 133%
Wonderfully hearty and filling, lentils are loaded with fibre, which provides bulk without the calories and expands in the stomach to leave you feeling full. These wholesome pulses are rich in satisfying protein to boot – protein triggers hormones in the brain that let it know you've eaten enough.
Recipe: warm lentil salad
Recipe: lentil and potato salad with salmon
Boiled egg – Satiety Index = 150%
A large boiled egg contains around 78 calories but its high protein content will keep you feeling fuller for longer than say, a hefty slice of carby white toast, which contains around 80 calories. Needless to say, you'll be less likely to snack on rubbish mid-morning if you eat eggs rather than white toast for breakfast.
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Wholemeal bread – Satiety Index = 157%
In fact, if you can, ditch the white loaf, which scores only 100% on the Satiety Index, and opt for filling wholemeal bread instead. Not just healthier for you all round, wholemeal bread is packed with satisfying fibre. Just try to go easy on the butter or jam.
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Grapes – Satiety Index = 162%
Fruit and veg that have a high water content on top of plenty of fibre are especially filling. Grapes tick both boxes and make for the perfect sustaining, low calorie snack – nibbling on a mere handful should keep you going between meals, without adding pounds to your waistline.
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Wholemeal pasta – Satiety Index = 188%
Next time your rustle up a spaghetti bolognese or carbonara, try it with wholemeal pasta. Not only is it better for you than regular refined wheat pasta, the wholemeal version is far more filling, scoring 188% on the Satiety Index, compared to white pasta's 118%.
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Apples – Satiety Index = 197%
Apples are particularly satisfying. For starters, they contain loads of water, which increases their volume. Apples are also high in filling insoluble fibre and most interestingly, they contain pectin, a form of soluble fibre that slows digestion and boosts feelings of satiety.
Oranges – Satiety Index = 202%
The orange is the most filling of the fruits listed in the Satiety Index, almost twice as satisfying as a banana, weight for weight. Experts put this down to the citrus fruit's relatively low glycaemic index (GI), combined with its high water and fibre content.
Oatmeal – Satiety Index = 209%
If eggs for breakfast don't take your fancy, eat porridge instead. Oatmeal scores an impressive 209% on the Satiety Index. The healthy grain is jam-packed with fibre that balloons in the stomach to fill you up, and it has a low GI, too.
Recipe: heart-friendly oatmeal and pear smoothie
Steamed cod fillet – Satiety Index = 225%
Protein is of course extra-filling but many animal-based sources are high in saturated fat, which won't do your waistline any favours. Instead, opt for steamed white fish such as cod, which is low in fat and scores very high on the Satiety Index.
Boiled potatoes – Satiety Index = 323%
Believe it or not, the humble boiled spud is the most filling food of them all, according to the index, scoring a whopping 323%. Replete with resistant starch and fibre, boiled potatoes are exceptionally satisfying, and healthier than many people think, providing a good source of B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium and copper. What's more, allowing your potatoes to cool before eating them, and either eating them as a salad or reheating, creates even more resistant starch (starch that takes longer to digest, slowing down glucose absorption and feeding your gut bacteria). Storing them in the fridge overnight triples their resistant starch levels.
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