Food & Nutrition

6 super-filling foods to eat if you're always hungry

Is your tummy *always* grumbling? Incorporate these foods into your snacks and meals for a fast fix.
Published 8 October 2020

Sometimes, you’re just hungry. Your budget is near its limit, but your tummy is rumbling and there's no two ways about it - you need food! But what if you planned your meals around foods that keep you full? We've put together a list of the most filling foods to reduce hunger, so you feel satisfied and energised throughout the day.

Filling meals and snacks will also help you stay on track with your healthy eating plan. Here are 6 science-backed picks to add more staying power to your meals and snacks.

1. Oats

Oats are rich in soluble fibre, a type of fibre that becomes gel-like when combined with liquid, says Wendy Bazilian, registered dietitian. Oats are thought to impact appetite-reducing hormones, which makes it more likely you’ll eat less. They also leave your stomach at a slower rate than simple carbs such as those found in desserts, for example.

There’s one important caveat: because soluble fibre needs liquid to thicken up, oats seem to be the most filling when they’re cooked in water or milk to make porridge. “A muffin or breakfast bar made with oats probably won’t have the same level of effect, since they don’t have as much water” Bazilian says.

RELATED: Are oats good for you?

2. Beans and legumes

Toss them into salad, use them in soup, or puree them into a dip. Adding beans and legumes like chickpeas, black beans, and lentils to a meal increases satiety by an average of 31%, according to a recent scientific review published in the journal Obesity.

When it comes to fullness, these tiny powerhouses seem to pack a punch. They are complex carbohydrates, which deliver energy slowly and they are rich in fibre. They also contain protein, which takes longer to process—helping you stay satisfied for longer. “It’s a slow, sustained release of blood sugar, which can lengthen satiety,” Bazilian says.

RELATED: Health benefits of grains and legumes

3. Non-starchy vegetables

Veggies like leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, capsicums and celery have a low energy density. That means that they’re low in calories for their serving size—but because they’re high in water and fibre, they have more volume, which means they take up more space in your stomach. “If you choose foods that have a lower density of calories in each bite, you’ll get a bigger portion for your calorie needs,” says Barbara Rolls, PhD, Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behaviour at Penn State University.

Case in point: You’d have to eat more than 400g of cooked baby spinach to consume 100 calories, but you’d get the same amount of calories from just 1 tablespoon of butter!

4. Eggs

Have them in the morning, and you just might feel fuller all day long. One study found that women who were overweight reported that they consumed less food for up to 36 hours when they ate eggs for breakfast, compared to when they ate bagels.

That could be because eggs are packed with protein (one large 60g boiled egg delivers about 7g), which digests at a slower rate than carbohydrate-based foods and helps keep you satisfied for longer, says Bazilian. But that’s not all. A small study also suggests that eggs may suppress the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which could help stop the urge to snack.

RELATED: Are eggs good for you?

5. Greek yoghurt

200g of 99% fat-free Greek yoghurt delivers around 20g protein, which will help reduce the desire to eat and keep you feeling fuller for longer. What’s more, it’s relatively high in water, so it adds volume in your stomach. Combined, those two things will keep you satisfied, Bazilian says.

Of course, not all yoghurts are created equal. Plain yoghurt is a better choice than flavoured ones, since it’s free from added sugars which, in excess, have been linked to increased risk of disease.

6. Brothy soup

Starting with a soup can help curb calorie intake at mealtime, some studies show. Like non-starchy vegetables, soups have a low calorie density—all that liquid will help fill you up for relatively few calories, Rolls says.

The key is sticking with broth or tomato-based soups instead of cream-based ones. Think minestrone or pumpkin soup. For even more staying power (for example, if you’re having soup for a meal) consider adding a source of lean protein like shredded chicken, Rolls says.