Have you ever noticed that some foods keep you feeling full longer? And others give you the munchies an hour later?
That's a phenomenon called satiety. It's the feeling of fullness, of being satisfied and satiated. It's is the opposite of hunger and appetite. It is measured by the satiety index of foods.
This is a rating of foods that have been tested for the satiating effect in a 240 calorie (1,000 kJ) portion size. The scale scores foods based on whether people feel extremely hungry, hungry, semi-hungry, no feeling, semi-satisfied, satisfied, or extremely satisfied.
Similar to the glycemic index, the response to white bread was set to be 100. Foods that are more filling have numbers higher than 100. Foods that are less filling have numbers lower than 100.
Characteristics of foods with a high satiety index
There are a few common characteristics of highly satiating foods.
Foods that are more filling tend to have more protein. Protein is more filling than either carbohydrates or fats. And we need more protein, animal or plant-based, as we age for “brain fuel”.
They also tend to have more fiber. Because fiber is not digested, it provides bulk. This bulk tends to help you feel full longer because it slows down emptying of the stomach and digestion time.
Highly satiating foods tend to have more volume for the same amount of calories; this means they tend to take up more space with water or air. Think salad greens, cucumbers, bell peppers, apples and oranges.
Highly satiating foods are also generally whole and less processed.
Eating more foods that have a higher satiety index are more filling, and therefore can help you to eat less overall. Since these foods are generally whole, you are getting the additional benefit of enough nutrients while eating less, possibly losing weight.
What foods keep you feeling full for longer?
Some foods that score higher than white bread (100) on the satiety index are:
Boiled potatoes (323);
Brown rice pasta (188);
Beef steak (176);
Baked beans (168);
Some foods that score lower than white bread (100) on the satiety index are:
Ice cream (96);
As you can see, most of the foods on the low-satiety side are processed. That is why you are always hungry when you eat "junk food". It is not filling and certainly not nutritious.
The satiety index is a simple measure of how filling and satisfying a food is. The higher the score, the fuller you feel. Eating foods that score higher on the satiety index can help reduce food intake and lead to a reduction in weight. Using this as a guide can help you make better choices each day and feel fuller between meals.
And considering we don't eat just protein, or just fat or just carbs (our macro-nutrients) at a meal, think of the combinations. Which will work best for satiety? As a guide, very low-fat foods are hard to overeat, fat is satiating and a combination of fat and carbs are the least satiating (donuts, anyone?). So, don't be afraid of fat, eat more protein and fiber. Avoid processed foods.
Start your day off right with one of my favorite recipes that is high on the satiety index:
Blueberry Overnight Oats
1-1/2 cups of Oats
1-1/2 cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 TBsp Chia Seeds
2 TBsp Maple Syrup
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 cup Water
1 cup Blueberries (fresh or frozen-thawed)
1 cup Slivered Almonds
Combine oats, almond milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, cinnamon and water together in a large Tupperware container. Stir well to mix. Seal and place in the fridge overnight (or for at least 8 hours).
In the morning, remove the mixture from the fridge and put it in a bowl. Heat in a microwave, then top it with the blueberries and slivered almonds, maybe a drizzle of honey. Delicious!
If you are curious about preparing and eating more whole foods, get on the waitlist for the Fall Rewind - a five-day whole food detox for beginners. I will guide you through the planning, shopping, meal plan and preparation that will make you feel great by the end of our five days together. Promise! Sign up here now.