With post-gym starvation, afternoon slumps and evening noshing in front of the TV, it’s super-easy to think that you need more food—even if you just ate. To help keep your caloric intake within a healthy range, we spoke with experts as well as looked into the latest research to find out how you can stay full longer. Below, eight surprising ways to stave off hunger and, ultimately, unwanted inches.
Learn These 8 Ways to Stay Full Longer
1. Eat fatty foods. It sounds strange, but zapping all the fat from your diet will actually make you fatter. Your body needs unsaturated (a.k.a. “good”) fats to function properly and stay energized as well as absorb certain vitamins. Need some incentive? A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, showed that the unsaturated fat found in avocados and olive oil is converted into a compound that curbs your hunger. Just be careful not to overdo it. Make sure that only 30 percent of your daily calories come from fat, says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist in private practice in San Francisco and Portland. If you’re operating on a 1,500-calorie diet, your meals should contain a maximum of 10 percent saturated fat, Batayneh says.
2. Chew gum. Even though you don’t technically consume gum, you can still feel fuller from it. A study found that if you chew gum for 60 minutes in the morning, you’ll consume 67 fewer calories at lunch. “There is some evidence that chewing gum can help with feelings of satiety and reduced appetite,” says Elaine Rush, PhD, professor at Auckland University of Technology. “The possible mechanism is not clear, but is [thought to be] associated with the chewing action as well as the taste, smell and flow of saliva.” To keep your choppers in good health, make sure the gum is sugarless; the sugar in gum wreaks havoc on your teeth. Plus, sugarless gum improves the flow of saliva, which further suppresses your appetite, Dr. Rush adds.
3. Snack on almonds. These all-natural treats contain fiber and unsaturated fat, which combine to create a superpower that makes you feel full. Not only that, a recent study found that you can shrink your waist by a whopping 14 percent if you eat a handful of almonds daily for just half a year. However, almonds are high in calories, so stick to no more than 3 ounces daily for the best weight-loss results.
4. Return carbohydrates to your diet. We know carbs and starches were practically banned a few years ago, but now they’re back and we’re learning that they’re way better for you than previously thought. Just like there are good and bad fats, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Opt for complex carbs, found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which take longer to digest and therefore help keep you feeling full. Potatoes also take a long time to break down due to a type of starch that resists digestive enzymes. Batayneh says, “Potatoes can actually work in your favor,” and often recommends that her clients eat half of a large potato every day with lunch. For even more nutritional value, go for a sweet potato, which is high in fiber and vitamins A and C.
5. Chow down on grapefruit. A study found that people who ate half of a grapefruit with breakfast, lunch and dinner lost nearly 4 pounds in just three months. That’s because grapefruit lowers your insulin, which regulates your fat metabolism, suppressing your appetite and burning calories faster. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for citrus juices, which typically contain a lot of sugar. If you want to have the grapefruit in juice form, squeeze it yourself and don’t add any sweetener.
6. Hit the gym. Going to the gym doesn’t just help you burn calories; a study in the American Journal of Physiology found that doing an hour of cardio will reduce your appetite for up to two hours after you’re done. The cardio reduces your levels of ghrelin (a hormone which increases your appetite) and increases levels of the hormone which suppresses your appetite. However, doing the same cardio day after day can eventually cause any positive effects it has on your metabolism to plateau. Be sure to mix it up at least twice a month with a variety of exercises, like biking, rowing, running and the elliptical machine.
7. Try aromatherapy. It may sound new-agey, but a study found that people who smelled peppermint every two hours ate 2,700 fewer calories weekly, which caused them to lose a pound every week. The smell works on your brain, tricking you into thinking you’ve eaten and are therefore fuller than you actually are. Sniffing the peppermint more frequently works even better, so light a candle and you’ll be golden.
8. Grab some blueberries. Blueberries affect the genes in charge of fat-burning and storage, so eating them not only makes you feel full, but also helps get rid of extra belly fat, says Mitchell Seymour, PhD, research scientist. In Dr. Seymour’s study, the participants ate a cup of blueberries every day for three months, and lost 3 percent of their body fat. If fresh blueberries are out of season, eat frozen ones to get the same benefits.