Knowing the best foods for staying full on a diet is a must if you want to reach your weight loss goals sustainably. Sure, you have to have your calories set correctly to begin with, you have to be in a consistent calorie deficit, you have to accurately track and quantify your intake, and you have to consume enough protein.
...of equal importance, in my opinion, is optimizing your food volume, choosing the best foods for staying full on a diet, and avoiding unmanageable and intolerable hunger. Staying satiated is key. This aspect of dieting doesn’t “get a lot of love” or attention, but, in working with hundreds of clients over the last 25 years, I cannot stress just how important food volume and satiety is.
Sure, calories in vs. calories out is the “big rock” of weight loss. However, trying to create a calorie deficit with non-satiating, low volume foods is a recipe for disaster. That doesn’t mean you cannot have flexibility and work a small percentage of “junk” into your daily calories.
You certainly can.
But food volume and satiety matters. The fact of the matter is MOST “tasty”, palatable foods are NOT satiating. So, most of your weight loss diet should be composed of nutrient-dense, satiating foods which help control hunger.
With the above being said, I want to present what I consider to be the best foods for staying full on a diet. Some of these come directly from the SATIETY INDEX, and others are simply foods which both I, personally, and my CLIENTS have found to be satiating and have an anti-hunger effect.
The 10 Best Foods For Staying Full On a Diet
Whah?? Wait...aren’t carbs the devil and shouldn’t they be avoided at all costs?
No and no.
Carbohydrates do not make you fat. Too many calories-from any source and any macronutrient-do. Period and end of story.
While I can make a strong argument protein is the most critical and beneficial macronutrient while dieting-for a whole host of reasons-carbs play several beneficial roles:
They are protein sparing (you don’t want to lose any more lean muscle mass than necessary while dieting)
They are your body’s preferred fuel source during high-intensity exercise (and you should be training hard while dieting)
They are the preferred fuel source for your brain (you’ll have enough brain fog while dieting as it is so no need to make it worse)
They help you sleep (and sleep is critical while dieting in order to keep appetite hormones in check)
They have a positive impact on the hunger hormone leptin which helps control appetite
Some carbs are a significant source of fiber, which is often overlooked in regards to its positive roll in a fat loss diet
Carbs, in most cases, just taste good and make the dieting process more sustainable and pleasurable
I could go on and on, but, you get the picture. A moderate amount of carbs in your weight loss diet are encouraged and perfectly fine.
So, yes: white potatoes.
White, boiled potatoes rank NUMBER ONE on the satiety index (how satiating foods are compared to white bread, which has a value of 100 in the index).
White potatoes come in with a satiety index rating of 323%!
Let me put this in perspective. If I put 1000 calories of white potatoes in front of you (that’s 1275 grams), I’d bet good money you couldn’t finish them. If you managed to, you’d be stuffed for the rest of the day. If you don’t believe me, go try it. :)
1000 calories of sausage and pepperoni pizza (maybe 3 slices)? People routinely do that (and more) in 20 minutes every friday night.
Bottom line: include more white potatoes (easy on the cheese, butter and sour cream) in your weight loss diet.
In researching this article, I had no idea exactly what Ling fish actually was. :)
Turns out, it’s a member of the cod family. It also turns out I’ve been eating a lot of cod during my current rapid fat loss phase and I always come away full and happy with the overall food volume.
And for good reason: it ranks #2 on the satiety index at 225%...one of the best foods for staying full on a diet.
You cannot go wrong with cod. Really, you can’t go wrong with any lean white fish, or, honestly, ANY lean source of protein.
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. Lean protein (as opposed to fattier protein rich foods like salmon and steak) provides a great deal of food volume for a lower number of calories. Because of this, it has a satiating anti-hunger effect.
What’s more, it also has a thermogenic/fat burning effect: it takes a lot more energy for the body to break down and absorb as compared to carbohydrate and fat rich foods.
As I mentioned earlier in this article: you cannot go wrong with lean protein for the myriad of benefits it offers...especially while on a reduced calorie diet.
Whole Grain/Brown Pasta
“OMG, more carbs! Doesn’t pasta go right to your gut?!”
I’ll point you back above where I discussed carbs and potatoes.
No. Pasta-or any food-only “goes right to your gut” if it puts you in a calorie surplus (when you consume more calories than you expend). Period.
Turns out, whole grain/brown pasta has a satiety index rating of 188% which ranks 6th overall. Yet another ringing endorsement for a carb source as one of the best foods for staying full on a diet.
At 180 calories for a 56g dry serving, you can’t go wrong with the bulk, 6g of fiber (shoot for 15-20g per day) and the surprising protein (8g/serving) it offers.
Some of My Own Favorite & Best Foods For Staying Full On a Diet
Ok, so I’ve highlighted three foods from the satiety index. Now, I want to briefly present some others which I’ve anecdotally found to work well both personally and with my clients in terms of managing hunger, optimizing food volume, and staying full while on a diet.
Some of these also rank very well on the satiety index too :)
There is just something about Greek yogurt. Besides being a nice source of protein, calcium and Vitamin D (and in many cases fiber), it just seems to “stick” with you and keeps you satisfied.
Pro tip: mix a scoop of protein powder with an individual container of Greek yogurt. Then top it with watermelon or strawberries (see below for more on these two fruits).
If you are craving something sweet, this will do the trick while also offering up close to 40g of anti-hunger protein...a perfect recipe for staying satisfied and full-enjoyably-on a diet.
Shirataki Noodles, Riced Cauliflower/Broccoli, & Spaghetti Squash
In my own current rapid fat loss phase, this trio of plant-based foods have been a game changer in terms of optimizing food volume for a very small number of calories, making them some of the best foods for staying full on diet.
Shirataki noodles come from the Japanese konjac yam. Konjac is a known appetite suppressant. What’s even better is 200g of this stuff (it is an acquired taste) carries only 30 calories and a nice hit of fiber to boot. This works very well as an occasional substitute for pasta (but, see above, there is nothing wrong with pasta either in terms of staying satiated) and offers the same or more volume of regular pasta for a fraction of the calories.
Riced broccoli and cauliflower are also foods I’d highly recommend working into your reduced calorie diet. An entire packet comes in at only 35 calories and, once again, offers up a nice hit of fiber. It’s a great alternative to traditional white, brown, jasmine or basmati rice.
Spaghetti squash is another high volume, low calorie, high fiber alternative to pasta, rice or potatoes. 300 grams provides only 80 calories and offers a tremendous amount of volume and bulk.
Topping any of these three HIGHLY ENCOURAGED plant-based foods with a lean protein source makes for a very complete, satiating meal conducive to meeting your weight loss goals.
I want to reiterate: there is nothing wrong with eating traditional starchy carbs which provide higher calories (see potatoes and brown pasta above). But substituting these out throughout the course of your weight loss diet with the above options provides the same (or more) volume of traditional starchy carbs with far fewer calories. There is room for all of it.
God bless watermelon. ONE AND A HALF POUNDS of watermelon is 230 calories.
Once again: high volume, low calories...and you benefit from the micronutrients contained in it. This is what I recommend to my clients who are craving something sweet at night but don’t want to significantly go over their calorie budget for the day.
Strawberries are another Godsend.
ONE POUND IS 140 CALORIES...now THAT’S high volume for very few calories. These can be a great addition to the protein powder and Greek yogurt concoction I discussed above and will keep you full and satisfied for hours.
Liquid Egg Whites
Whole eggs also rank high on the satiety index coming in at 150%. However, whole eggs are also fairly calorie-dense due to their fat content and can take up a lot of room in your daily dieting calorie budget.
The solution? Liquid egg whites.
200g of liquid egg whites only contain 110 calories and provide 22g of protein. 200g of liquid egg whites makes a HUGE omelet or scramble. Add in some veggies like spinach and onion, top with hot sauce and you have a satiating meal which keeps you full for hours.
And That’s All!
Well, there you have it: 10 of the best foods for staying full on a diet. If you are currently dieting, dealing with intense hunger, and just never quite feel satiated...work some or all of these 10 foods into your routine. I’ll bet you notice a significant difference and experience more progress on your weight loss journey.
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