Trying to curb hunger can be difficult, particularly when snacking is so easy and delicious, but there are a number of great foods that can help curb hunger pangs, including avocados, beans, oatmeal, nuts, meat, apples and celery!
What is Hunger?
We all know what hunger feels like, that grumbling and demanding sensation in our stomach that tells us our body wants to eat again. Hunger comes in many forms, from feeling a bit peckish in between meals to literally starving from lack of nutrients that your body needs to function. However, scientifically speaking, hunger is caused by the release of ghrelin, a hormone that sends signals to the brain telling it that the body needs more sustenance. This can happen when the stomach is empty, or when it thinks that it’s empty. Leptin, however, is the hormone that tells the brain that the body is full, thus eliminating those hunger pangs. There are many different causes for hunger, many of which are not because you haven’t been eating enough food. In many cases, you have simply not been eating the right food.
For people struggling with their weight or trying their best to stick to a diet, snacking in between meals can be a major problem, along with overeating. Therefore, foods that make you feel full and effectively curb hunger are important for these weight loss efforts. Whether by inhibiting the release of ghrelin, increasing the release of leptin, or slowing down the digestive process and regulating nutrient uptake, there are many foods that can quickly suppress your appetite. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the top foods to eliminate hunger.
Foods to Curb Hunger
You can easily find many foods that help eliminate hunger and some of the most effective foods include celery, nuts, avocado and beans.
While many people look at celery as an essentially “useless” vegetable, the truth is, it does have its purposes. Although very low in nutritive value, and composed mainly of water, celery is quite high in vegetable fiber, and is very low in energy density. This means that it forces your body to work relatively hard to digest, and it does so slowly, all while making you feel full, and not contributing to your overall calorie load. With just 8 calories in each stick, if you really feel the need for a snack, grab some celery and suppress that appetite!
Nuts of all varieties are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are the “beneficial” fats in our diet. This is particularly true of pistachios, almonds and walnuts. Not only are these nuts high in healthy fats, but also in protein, which can make your body feel full as it converts these nutrient-dense foods into energy. However, nuts do tend to be high in calories, so a single handful should be enough for someone trying to watch their weight. The hunger-suppressing effects should happen relatively quickly, within 30 minutes or so.
Beans and other legumes, like pulses, are exceptional for handling hunger pangs, as they are a rich source of dietary fiber and protein. Dietary fiber is known to regulate the digestive process, and boost the production of CCK (cholescystokinin), which can inhibit the secretion of gastric juices, essentially slowing down the digestive process, keeping you feeling full for longer and ensuring regular nutrient uptake. The high levels of protein are also converted into energy, thus preventing the release of ghrelin by the body demanding more nutrients.
As the prime source of protein for many people around the world, meat is a very effective solution for hunger. If you’re reaching for a bag of potato chips or a slice of pizza, a better option would be to eat some beef, chicken or fish. In terms of making you feel full, all of these “meats” are good choices, particularly beef, because it takes longer to chew, which psychologically affects you and increases feelings of satiety. However, if you’re looking for the healthiest option, lean types of fish will deliver the most protein and the healthiest array of fats.
When it comes to unsaturated fats, many people overlook avocados, but they shouldn’t, as this is a very effective way to curb hunger and deliver all the nutrients that a body needs. Unsaturated fats send a signal to the brain that it is full, while also helping to balance cholesterol levels and promote weight loss. A particular metabolic compound called OEA (Oleoylethanolamide), is what provides feelings of satiety in the body, and its production is stimulated by the unsaturated fats found in avocados.
Complex carbohydrates are often the goal when it comes to suppressing the appetite, as these types of carbs, unlike “simple sugars”, take longer for the body to process and digest. A bowl of oatmeal every morning can ensure that you get through the morning without those annoying cravings, and see you safely to lunch without adding any unnecessary snacks in between. Oatmeal and other oats are all very good, but steel cut varieties are often the best, and can help suppress the appetite even further.
Many fruits and vegetables can have a positive effect on hunger, due to their high levels of dietary fiber, and apples are no exception. Apples are high in fiber and water, both of which help a person feel more full, and can slow the release of the “hunger” hormones. Furthermore, apples stand apart from other fruits due to a rather unique type of fiber called pectin, which is strongly believed to directly suppress appetite. Therefore, not only does an apple a day keep the doctor away, but it also keeps you out of the pantry and on track for your weight loss goals.