When people think of dieting, most assume it means eating very small amounts of food. While it’s true you should only eat small amounts of certain foods like sweets and treats, there are some foods – a lot of foods actually – that you can go hog wild on without spoiling your health and fitness progress.
What determines whether you can eat a certain food without restraint? There are a few factors:
- Volume: Some foods are made mostly of water or contain a lot of air which increases their volume without adding calories. High volume foods help fill you up quickly.
- Protein: Studies have proven over and over that protein is more filling than fat or carbs.
- Fiber: Natural fiber in food makes you feel full when you eat it and also slows down food as it moves through your digestive system. This keeps you feeling satisfied long after you’ve finished eating.
Based on this criteria, here are some foods you can fill up on with no regrets.
Citrus fruits like oranges, tangerines and grapefruit are high in water content and full of fiber. So, they will make you feel full and keep you hydrated – a great combination.
Cantaloupe and watermelon are also mostly water. Eating these will help you flush excess liquid from your body and relieve bloating.
Potatoes may be higher in carbohydrates than other vegetables, but they are also high in fiber and vitamins. They contain resistant starch which has only half the calories of other starches and works like fiber in your digestive system to keep you feeling full. Want to make them even better for you? Boil them and let them cool completely before eating them.
Eggs are a fantastic and healthy source of complete protein as they contain all 9 essential amino acids. Several studies have shown that people who start their day with eggs for breakfast consume fewer calories overall than those who have a bagel. Also, don’t skip the yolk as it contains 80% of the egg’s protein and valuable nutrients.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are on the list because they are all high volume, high fiber and low calorie fruits. All three are high in antioxidants which help with everything from reducing wrinkles to warding off disease. With only 50-80 calories per cup, you can eat a lot of these berries with no guilt.
Fish is another protein rich food that actually ranked highest of any protein source on a satiety index study. Its omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to increase satiety in obese or overweight people on restricted calorie diets. One particular study found that people who ate fish consumed 11% fewer calories at their next meal.
Another high protein, diet friendly food is cottage cheese. Packed with B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and selenium, cottage cheese is low in calories but high in protein which makes it a food you can eat freely.
If there’s one “snack” food you should choose above all others it’s popcorn
. It qualifies as a whole grain and has more fiber than most other snacks. Since it’s popped it contains a lot of air which increases its volume to take up more space in your stomach. Obviously air-popped popcorn without added fat is the best choice. And, always beware of microwave popcorn which contains loads ofadded fat and other unhealthy, unnatural ingredients.
Celery has long been a dieter’s staple at only 6 to 10 calories per stalk. Although celery is 90% water, it still contains lots of potassium, folate, fiber and vitamin K – all very healthy nutrients. Its crunchiness and the fact that you have to chew alot while eating it makes your brain think you’re eating more than you are.
Kale is a trendy green that has gained popularity recently and here’s why. A one cup serving contains only 33 calories but it also has 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.