Posted on May 21, 2021 by Kate Halsall
“Eat less, move more.” We’ve all heard this before, and on the face of it, it sounds so simple. But, weight loss is a complicated process which is made 1000x more complicated by the infinite options, opinions and approaches that are so readily available these days. In an ideal world, our body would naturally regulate how much we eat and what we eat…we’d simply eat whenever we were hungry and stop when we’re full. Unfortunately in today’s society its just not that simple, and in this blog we discuss why it is important to feel satiated.
We live in a world where hyper-palatable, energy dense foods are available at every turn…foods which taste so damn good and contain an inordinate amount of calories are everywhere! And a lot of the time these hyper-palatable foods don’t fill us up, meaning we end up eating more than we need to to get any resemblance of ‘fullness’.
This idea of ‘fullness’, or satiation, is something which needs to be considered when it come to weight loss diets. If we can choose foods and meals which leave us feeling full, we’ll be far less likely to overeat later in the day. Because after all, if we’re not satisfied and full after eating, we’ll likely continue eating unnecessary calories making it harder (impossible!) to control our weight.
Let’s take the humble croissant for example…have you ever eaten just one croissant and walked away feeling satisfied and full? I bet you haven’t…I bet you finish one croissant and feel the need to eat a few more! That’s because a croissant doesn’t do a very good job at satisfying our hunger…it’s not very satiating. Satiation and satiety are two incredibly important things that we need to have a good grasp of…
Satiation signals us to stop eating. Satiety is how satisfied we are between meals.
Every food differs in levels of satiation and satiety, luckily we have the ‘Satiety Index’ to help us with this! A study done in the 90’s ranked a number of popular foods according to how full they make us feel, and how long we feel full for, you can see the full list here: The Satiety Index List.
This is a really good starting point for helping you feel fuller for longer by making some easy substitutions and building your meals around foods which we KNOW will fill us up. For example, a breakfast of porridge would be FOUR TIMES as filling as croissants, meaning you’ll be far less likely to overeat over the next few hours.
As well as the individual ratings of single foods, there are many other factors to take into account when it comes to that feeling of fullness:
This is essentially the number of calories in each bite. For example, one bite of a chocolate bar is going to equate to a LOT more calories than a bite of an apple, for example. Therefore to get a similar level of satiety when eating a chocolate bar vs an apple, you’d consume far more calories eating the chocolate bar! So to increase our level of satiety and general fullness, we should aim to eat foods which are lower calorie but high volume. For example, green vegetables, apples, oranges, butternut squash.
Protein also has a significant effect on a feeling of fullness. If you eat at least 20g of protein with each meal you’ll feel fuller and spontaneously eat less over the course of the day. Some sources of protein which have high satiety ratings are white fish, beef, eggs and chicken. If you’re looking for protein based snack alternatives, why not try these.
Including sources of fibre such as fruit, vegetables, oats, beans and potatoes will have an effect on feeling fuller for longer. Fibre will slow the emptying of your stomach meaning you’ll eat less per meal. Here’s a great blog from Chris on fibre and fat loss.
Choose your carbohydrate sources carefully! If you choose carbs which are high in water and fibre content you’ll feel much fuller for much longer. For example boiled potatoes have a satiety rating which is DOUBLE that of boiled white rice. Other carb sources which have high satiety ratings would be brown pasta, wholemeal bread and porridge.
Different foods and different meals will give you varying feelings of fullness. If you can maximise that feeling of fullness, whilst keep your calories low, you’re onto a winner!