Have you ever eaten a large, carb-laden meal and, even though you packed in the calories, felt hungry in just a short while? Or maybe you were starving after a long day and scarfed down a healthy dinner you just weren’t excited about?
Even though you know you’re not “technically” hungry, you’re still ready to back into the kitchen and nibble your way around to something better.
Welcome to the wonderful world of achieving satiety, or how long until you feel hungry again after eating.
What Is Satiety?
Satiety is the feeling of being sated or full. While eating the right foods is a major factor in feeling full for longer, our minds play a role as well, which is why mindful eating is so important. Being aware of your physical and mental fullness in the moment can have a huge impact on satiety.
Achieving satiety is critical in maintaining a healthy weight or shedding pounds. If your meals leave you feeling hungry or you’re constantly unsatisfied with your food choices and reaching for extra snacks, you’ll likely start adding more calories to your diet.
Satiety also is largely a recent, “first-world” problem. After all, when our ancestors were foraging for food or whipping up meals with whatever was harvested, most of the time there was no option to go back for seconds or supplement a meal with something else.
Us modern eaters need to actually think about satiation during and after food intake, instead of grazing from one food to another even when we don’t have an appetite. Thankfully there are ways to achieve satiety that can put you in control of your food intake.
High Satiety Foods
We know that you’ll feel satisfied when you’ve had adequate food intake, but it’s true that some foods provide better appetite control than others.
The best high satiety foods include:
- Grass-fed beef
- Organic poultry
- Wild-caught salmon
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, mustard greens and collard greens)
- Watermelon (and other water-dense fruits)
- Blueberries (and other nutrient-dense berries)
- Root vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash and turnips)
- Beans and legumes (black beans, chickpeas, lentils and split peas)
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts and cashews)
- Seeds (flaxseeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds)
- Whole grains (quinoa, oats, farro, barley and brown rice)
- Herbs and spices (cilantro, parsley, cayenne pepper, turmeric and garlic)
- Coconut oil and olive oil
Top 10 Ways to Achieve Satiety
1. Eat lean proteins
High-protein foods are proven to help you feel full and stay that way for longer. Eating lean proteins, like grass-fed beef, wild fish and organic chicken, can prevent overeating and might even help you lose weight.
One study found that increasing protein intake, along with moderate exercise, helped people burn more calories and lose more weight than those who didn’t up their proteins.
2. Have a starter
Before digging in to the main course, start with a healthy, broth-based soup or a salad. You’ll ease hunger before the main course, allowing you to reduce your intake and feel satiated with a smaller portion.
3. Chow down on low-density foods
Low-density foods are those that provide the highest nutritional bang for your buck. They provide the most nutrient density for the lowest amount of calories.
For instance, eating 100 calories of french fries doesn’t provide the same amount of nutrition as eating 100 calories worth of blackberries, even though the amount of calories is the same.
Incorporating low-density foods into meals and snacks means you’ll eat filling, nutrient-rich foods with fewer calories. The health benefits of kale, wild-caught salmon and blueberries make them terrific options.
4. Reach for fiber-rich options
It turns out your grandmother was on to something: Eating fiber has multiple benefits, including helping you to achieve satiety and control food intake. Evidence shows that consuming high-fiber foods helps decrease hunger and increase satiation.
Per gram, fiber contains about half the amount of calories as carbohydrates — nutrient density strikes again. High-fiber foods also take longer for your body to digest, keeping your appetite under control.
5. Get in your fruits and vegetables
One more reason to get your daily dose of fruits and veggies: They’re the holy grail of satiation. Not only are they packed with fiber, but fruits and vegetables are also loaded with water.
High amounts of water in foods adds weight to them without upping the calorie count. The result is that fruits and veggies, especially when they’re eaten whole, enhance satiety.
Juicy fruits like watermelons, oranges and peaches, along with leafy greens, are good choices.
6. Spice things up with seasonings
Seasonings like benefit-rich cayenne pepper, dried herbs and spices add extra flavor to your food and heighten senses, which increase satiety. In fact, the more aromatic a food smells, the quicker your body sends a signal to your brain saying it’s full.
Think about it: It’s a lot easier to savor each bite when it’s bursting with taste and aroma than when it’s bland. If you need some inspiration to wake up your taste buds, try this coconut curried chicken.
7. Indulge in healthy fats
Not only are healthy fats good for your body, but consuming foods that feel indulgent and are actually beneficial (like avocado, coconut oil and salmon) affects your mental and physical satiety. Fats also take some time to digest, leaving you feeling full longer.
8. Take your time
Because it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know that you’re full, it pays to slow down when eating in order to control your appetite and avoid excessive food intake. If you think you’re too hungry to eat slowly, think again.
One study found that spacing out a meal over 30 minutes instead of five minutes increased fullness and decreased hunger in participants. Test it out by actually taking a full lunch hour to eat instead of gobbling your food down and heading back to your desk.
9. Clear your (smaller) plate
Because our brains rely heavily on visual cues, you can trick them into feeling satiated. Creating a sense of volume by loading up and then polishing off a smaller plate of food leads to more satisfaction and feelings of satiety than the same exact amount of food on a larger plate.
When there’s room still left on the plate, our minds think there’s still room left in our stomachs to feed, leading to unnecessary food intake.
A 2005 study tested this theory with soup. Participants were split into two groups.
One group was given an accurate visual of a food portion by being served the soup in a normal bowl. The second group was given a self-refilling soup bowl, a biased visual cue.
Those who were (unknowingly) using the self-refilling bowl consumed 73 percent more than the other group.
However, at the end of the study, they didn’t believe they’d eaten more, nor did they feel more satiated. As the study concluded, “It seems that people use their eyes to count calories and not their stomachs. The importance of having salient, accurate visual cues can play an important role in the prevention of unintentional overeating.”
So go ahead: Clean your plate, but make it a smaller one.
10. Pay attention
Eating in front of the television, mindlessly taking bites while computer browsing, checking your email — all of these distractions during mealtime make it more difficult for your brain to process the fact that it’s achieved satiety, and the effects last after the distraction and the meal are over.
Researchers point out that distracted food intake can also lead to weight gain because people may end up eating more when they aren’t paying attention or wind up eating more frequently.
The solution? When it’s time to eat, turn off the television, put away the gadgets, and focus on the food and company around you to feel full in no time.
When it comes to achieving satiety, what are the benefits? Being in control of your appetite and satiation helps you:
- avoid excess calorie consumption
- maintain a healthy weight
- support weight loss
- avoid bloating and digestive complaints
- engage in mindful eating
- increase energy levels
- avoid feelings of food deprivation
- improve pleasure and satisfaction from meals
Risks and Side Effects (Early Satiety)
While achieving satiety before excessive food intake is ideal, some people have trouble getting to this level of fullness.
Early satiety is when a person is unable to consume a full meal because she feels full prematurely. This is typically due to digestive issues like stomach ulcers, an obstruction or tumor in the abdomen, heartburn, or slow stomach emptying.
If you’re dealing with early satiety, consult your doctor for more information on diagnosis and treatment.
- Satiety is the feeling of being sated or full. Being aware of your physical and mental fullness in the moment can have a huge impact on satiety, as can eating certain foods.
- Achieving satiety is critical in maintaining a healthy weight or shedding pounds. If your meals leave you feeling hungry or you’re constantly unsatisfied with your food choices, you’ll likely start adding more calories to your diet.
- To achieve satiety, slow down while eating, and eat foods that provide fiber, lean protein and healthy fats. Opt for high-volume foods that provide nutrients, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds.