Everyone who has tried a diet knows the feeling: That gnawing in your rumbling stomach that says it’s time to eat – even if you shouldn’t.
Ignoring such hunger pangs requires a level of self-discipline that trips up many people hoping to lose weight. If only you could eat something and stay full for hours.
Well, maybe you can. Nutritionists say a handful of foods are especially good at helping you feel full longer. Following are five of their favorites.
This breakfast staple has plenty of both soluble and insoluble fiber, making it a great food for those trying to keep hunger at bay, says Angel Planells, a Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist, founder of ACP Nutrition and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
“The great benefit is that the food is gradually digested, which means you will feel satisfied for an extended period,” he says.
In addition, oatmeal helps you maintain healthful cholesterol and lipid levels, and aids blood-sugar control.
2. Black beans
Black beans have a special place in the heart – and on the plate – of Judy Caplan, a Vienna, Virginia-based registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of the GoBeFull program and website.
“I love black bean brownies,” she says.
Caplan says black beans sit at the top of the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale, which measures a food’s antioxidant content.
In addition, black beans are a low-fat source of protein that are “full of fiber, which keeps you full,” Caplan says.
3. Low-fat dairy foods
Foods such as yogurt, milk and cottage cheese are nutrient dense and give you “a big bang for the calorie buck,” says Kim Larson, a Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
Like oatmeal, these foods are digested more gradually, which keeps hunger pangs at bay.
“It’s important to eat foods that are digested more slowly and keep you full longer to stabilize blood sugars,” Larson says. “Doing this helps to manage weight better and keeps our appetite under better control so we eat less.”
Dairy products support bone and muscle health, and taste great, Larson says.
“Yogurt gives the added bonus of probiotic live and active cultures to support a healthy gut microbiome,” she says.
4. Almonds and other nuts
Almonds are full of healthy fats and naturally occurring fiber that helps you feel fuller longer, says Caroline West Passerrello, a Pittsburgh-based registered dietitian nutritionist who provides consulting in nutrition education and training, and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
“This is a favorite of mine, because almonds are easy to transport and are great for standalone, on-the-go snacking,” she says.
You can also add almonds to fruit or a whole grain – such as in a trail mix – to balance out the nutrition.
Almonds also help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels. If you prefer, add almond butter to apples, oatmeal and smoothies to give those foods “more staying power,” Passerrello says.
5. Sweet potato
This root vegetable is an excellent source of fiber, helping you feel full, says Nancy Farrell, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based registered dietitian nutritionist, founder of Farrell Dietitian Services and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
Sweet potatoes also are rich in vitamin A, which boosts skin and vision health. Other health benefits of eating sweet potatoes include a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, and better control of blood sugar levels.
Finally, sweet potatoes are full of potassium, which aids heart function and improves the body’s balance of fluids.
“I had a patient who is a cyclist, and he ate a sweet potato – even when cold – as a snack during his training days,” Farrell says.