The right foods for snacking contain fat-burning protein, good fats, and filling dietary fiber that our bodies were meant to consume as fuel, even if that food also contains a number of calories. These six nutrient-rich foods will keep you full longer, help to curb cravings, and still leave you feeling light.
#1 Greek yogurt
Instead of a processed pastry or carb-loaded bagel, try a bowl of fresh Greek yogurt in the morning. Greek yogurt is loaded with filling, fat-burning protein, and takes longer to leave your stomach. A study published in the journal Appetite found that participants who ate high-protein Greek yogurt (24 g) felt full the longest and delayed their time the most until the next meal, compared to those who ate moderate-protein regular yogurt (5 g) and no snack at all. Be sure to choose a low-sugar option!
If, like us, you don’t like your yogurt plain and need a little something else to crunch on, there are many many great recipes for yogurt toppings. We like this recipe from blogger Blissful Basil (whose photos are also pictured above) for a Blueberry-Banana Parfait.
Speaking of berries, blueberries and raspberries are well-known foods for satiety. Berries are high in dietary fiber, antioxidants, and water, which keep you full longer. The sweetness of berries will also satisfy your sweet tooth while avoiding the harmful sugars found in ice cream, cookies, and cake. We love to eat berries by themselves and in more unconventional recipes like this blueberry lime salsa from the blog “How sweet it is.”
#3 Non-starchy veggies
Last year, a Harvard study of over 100,000 people found that eating starchy vegetables was linked to more weight gain, while eating non-starchy veggies were linked to weight loss. Some non-starchy veggies are cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, celery, spinach, carrots, and cucumbers. They’re composed of water and fiber, which means they help control hunger and give you that “I just ate a lot but feel so light” feeling. We love to pack our Freshly dishes with non-starchy veggies like cauliflower puree.
Remember, however: there’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” vegetable. You can eat starchy veggies like pumpkin and potatoes, but some do tend to contain many carbs and rank higher on the glycemic index. This leads to spikes in your blood glucose levels, weight gain, and possibly the “I just ate a lot and feel bulky” feeling, so eat them in moderation.
Salmon is well-known as an incredibly filling, weight loss-friendly food thanks to its high protein and omega-3 fatty acid content. Research in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has even found that fish-eaters feel more full (and consume less food in their next meal) than beef-eaters. That’s saying something, since beef is pretty much known as the king of protein.
#5 Nut butters
One of our surefire ways to feel full without unhealthy bingeing: nuts. And a great way to incorporate nuts into your diet: nut butters. We’ve all seen the rise of nut and seed butters, from almond to cashew to sunflower butter. Creamy, decadent nut butters are delicious, and you don’t need to eat an exorbitant amount of it to feel full, either. Almond butter is a great alternative to peanut butter since it comes with more dietary fiber….despite having the same amount of calories. Here is one of our favorite recipes for Almond Butter No-Bake Cookies from the blog, Minimalist Baker.
Last but certainly not least, beans are a great way to “bulk” up your meals so they feel more filling. They also pack in nutrients that help with weight loss like protein, fiber, and complex carbs. Complex carbs break down slower in your body, so you’ll feel full longer. Beans also rank low on the glycemic index, so they won’t turn your blood glucose levels upside down and will keep your cravings at bay. Our favorite kinds of beans are black, which provide 15 grams of protein and fiber for every cup. Still kind of bean averse? Check out this recipe for a quick & easy Black Bean soup from the blog, Ambitious Kitchen.