Learning to control your appetite is a fundamental step toward maintaining a healthy diet. As it turns out, this ability is influenced just as much by what you eat as it is by how much you eat. Individuals looking to lose weight should focus their diets on lean proteins and high-volume — that is, high fiber and water content — foods, Dr. Wayne Campbell said to WebMD; high-volume foods bulk up your meals and help your stomach feel fuller.
These six foods incorporate these nutritional values in a way that will appease your appetite without costing too many calories.
1. Cottage cheese
One half-cup of cottage cheese costs you just 103 calories while packing in an impressive 11.7 grams of lean protein, and that same serving contains just 4.5 grams of fat, according to USDA data. Insufficient protein levels have been linked to the desire to eat, Campbell told WebMD, and snacking on high-protein, low-calorie foods like cottage cheese will stave off serious food cravings until meal time. A glass of milk can offer similar benefits, but these same studies indicate that eating solid foods can help your stomach feel fuller. Try some cottage cheese mixed with honey or berries for a low-calorie and satisfying snack.
A full cup of diced watermelon consists of just 46 calories, says the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA), and it also offers a high water content per serving. Snacking on two cups of the refreshing fruit will cost you fewer than 100 calories, providing you with sufficient water and fiber levels to keep you satisfied until your next meal. Dailyburn adds that those two cups will also have you halfway toward your recommended daily Vitamin C intake! In fact, high fiber and low calorie contents are a common quality in the fruit family — all the more reason for adding apples, oranges, and berries to your snack-time rotation.
No, we’re not talking the movie theater kind. Calorie for calorie, this snack food is one of the best sources of fiber: three cups of air-popped popcorn contain 93 calories and 3.5 grams of fiber, and given how quickly we tend to down the stuff, those fiber levels add up quickly. Time magazine adds that because popcorn takes up more room in your stomach than, say, potato chips, you’ll feel much fuller after snacking on the air-popped snack. Pro tip: Sprinkle some red pepper on your popped treat before eating — one Purdue University study showed that people who added just a half-teaspoon of the spice reported feeling fuller after eating.
Leafy greens such as spinach and kale offer huge nutritional benefits along with low calorie contents. Per two-cup serving, raw spinach contains 14 calories, 1.7 grams of protein, and 1.3 grams of fiber, reports the USDA. For a satisfying snack low in calories but heavy on nutritional advantages, try a bed of leafy greens with a light, low-fat dressing and a portion of lean meat. Sites like Dailyburn also recommend switching up your leafy green intake with a “Green Smoothie,” which combines various leafy greens with fruits, vegetables, and milk or milk substitutes for a nutrient-rich on-the-go snack.
Eggs are versatile, tasty, and nutritionally advantageous. One egg contains 78 calories and 6.3 grams of protein, reports the USDA. In fact, “Eggs are one of the few foods that are a complete protein, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids that your body can’t make itself,” Joy Dubost, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Time. A study at St. Louis University found that subjects who ate eggs for breakfast consumed 330 fewer calories throughout the day than the subjects who ate bagels, Time reports, suggesting a link between those amino acids and the suppression of hunger hormones.
Lean meats such as turkey offer high-protein solutions for the low-calorie dieter. For example, the USDA says that a three-ounce serving of roasted skinless turkey breast contains just 116 calories while offering an incredible 25.1 grams of protein and just 1.7 grams of fat. Similarly, a half-chicken breast contains 142 calories, 26.7 grams of protein, and 3.1 grams of fat, making it another nutritionally excellent choice in the lean meats category.