Whether you’re trying to lose a few pounds or just want to commit to eating healthier, you likely already know that you need to limit things like refined sugar, simple carbs and unhealthy fats. So you change things around in your diet and think you’re doing things right. Then why do you feel so hungry and unsatisfied sometimes?
Here are 5 foods from your “healthier” diet that may be making you hungry:
Eating a bowl full of leafy greens and assorted colorful veggies is low in calories and high in nutrients. But if you don’t get in some lean protein and healthy fat, it will leave you unsatisfied and soon reaching for something more to eat.
To turn your salad into a satisfying and filling meal, include some chicken or salmon to add protein, a few nuts or slices of avocado for some healthy fat, and a serving of whole grains, like quinoa, to boost the amount of fiber. And instead of fat-free salad dressing that may be filled with sugar and artificial ingredients, drizzle on some olive oil, vinegar and seasonings.
You may think juicing is a sure-fire way to get in lots of nutrients from fresh fruits and veggies, but it could be making you hungry. Since you’ll be consuming the sugar from the fruit without the fiber of the whole fruit, your blood sugar levels will spike and then plummet, much like eating a candy bar.
Instead, opt for a smoothie that includes whole fruit and veggies, then add some protein from Greek yogurt, protein powder or nut butter. The fiber and protein will keep you fuller longer and will help maintain more stable blood sugar levels, so you won’t be famished shortly after finishing your drink.
Breads, Pastas, Cereals
Simple carbs in white bread, pasta and cereal impact your body much in the same way as eating sugar. That means even though you may leave that Italian restaurant feeling stuffed, you’ll soon be craving something to eat when your blood sugar levels fall after the influx of insulin in your system.
Although whole-grain products are better choices, thanks to their added fiber and nutrients, you’ll still be flooding your body with carbs which will raise your insulin levels and impact your blood sugar. When you’re craving carbs, whole-grains are best but limit how much of them you eat. Pairing carbs with some protein or healthy fat gives it more staying power.
They may sound healthy, and may even look healthy with all those nuts, seeds and bits of fruit showing through. But most packaged granola bars are filled with sugar and hydrogenated oils and don’t have much else. Eating one as a snack is similar to eating a candy bar – it’ll temporarily stave off hunger but will not leave you satisfied for long.
If you don’t have time to grab something more substantial to eat, opt for a protein bar instead of a granola bar. It may have a few more calories but can take the place of a meal or can at least keep you full for longer thanks to the protein content. There are many brands of protein bars on the market so look for bars that contain a substantial amount of protein (20 grams or more is best) and fewer net carbs than protein.
Some bars contain more fat and calories than others so read labels carefully. This will help ensure that your protein bar isn’t just an expensive candy bar or won’t sabotage your weight loss efforts.
You’re trying to save some calories by using artificial sweeteners in your coffee or eating artificially-sweetened yogurt, and although those sweeteners can save you some major calories compared to the real stuff, they’ll still make your body think it’s getting something sweet to eat. Research shows artificial sweeteners can make you crave more sweets throughout the day and may even throw your hunger control systems off, leaving you feeling hungry.