Sateity – The Secret Weapon in Hunger and Weight Management Control
By Tim Altman B.Sc. B.H.Sc. (Naturopathy)
An edited version of this article was published in the Herald Sun (page 29) in the ‘Your Time’ section on Monday 9 April 2012.
Satiety has become a new concept in the battle to help people lose weight. Aimed at keeping calorie intake lower by managing hunger and maintaining blood sugar control, eating for satiety targets foods that keep you fuller for longer.
Research has indicated that there are ‘satiety’ hormones produced in response to meals that regulate hunger. Protein has been found to be the most satisfying macronutrient, along with fibre.
Recently, Dr Susan Holt, along with colleagues from the University of Sydney, developed a ‘Satiety Index‘ which ranks different foods on their ability to satisfy hunger. Using 240 calorie portions, 38 different foods were ranked for their satiety over a 2 hour period. Foods were compared on a scale in terms of their satiety using white bread as the baseline of 100. The higher a food scores on the satiety index, the more satisfying it is, and the less calories you are likely to eat.
Interestingly, it was found that the more protein, fibre or water a food contained, the longer it will satisfy you. Also, the more space a food or meal occupies in your gut, the higher the satiety score. Alternatively high fat content in foods led to low satiety index scores.
Scientists then produced a list of the best healthy foods for keeping you full. These lists have been verified many times.
A list of the top ten most satisfying foods based on the ‘satiety index’ include:
1. Boiled potatoes – despite getting a bad rap due to their energy density, fibre packed potatoes scored the highest of all foods on the ‘satiety index’ and are likely to keep you satisfied for three times longer than white bread.
Note however that this does not apply for fatty and fried potatoes like hot chips or potato crisps which scored very lowly on the satiety index.
2. Eggs – no surprise given protein is the most satisfying macronutrient in all foods. And eggs are often considered the perfect protein of all protein containing foods. Better to have your eggs boiled or poached than fried. Research has indicated that eggs for breakfast led to less calorie consumption (when compared to bread or cereal) for lunch and up to 36 hours later, and led to more weight loss and waist diameter reduction over time
3. Porridge – oats contain great quantities of fibre and plenty of protein when compared to other grains. And they are one of the few 100% whole grain breakfast options – and whole grains have been found to keep you fuller for longer and slow down the entry of sugar into the bloodstream. Similarly, a gluten free alternative to oats is quinoa flakes. Quinoa has higher protein levels again that oats and feedback from many clients has suggested that quinoa porridge is even more satisfying than oat porridge.
4. Beans – their high fibre content leads them to slow down entry of sugar into the bloodstream and it takes them longer to be digested, so you feel fuller for longer.
5. Fish and beef – whilst these were the only two meat or ‘fleshy’ food sources used in the satiety index, their high protein content leads to their satiety. Other meat sources such as chicken, lamb or pork are likely to have rated very highly on the ‘satiety index’.
6. Soup – when water is mixed with chunky vegetables and protein, soup not only satisfies thirst, but hunger as well. The water content and fibre help fill the stomach and if protein is added, satiety hormones will be stimulated to signal that you are full. There is plenty of research to suggest that eating soup regularly helps improve satiety, reduce calorie intake and lose weight. Chunky vegetable and protein broth based soups are better than creamy soups for weight loss.
7. Whole (100%) grains and whole grain pasta – whole grains contain far more fibre than refined or white grains – for example, whole wheat pasta contains three times more fibre than white pasta. Some gluten free whole grain pastas, such as buckwheat, also contain good protein levels to further satiety.
Note that many commercially available whole meal and multigrain breads contains mostly refined white flour (up to 95% white flour!!!), so read labels or ask questions. White flour is no more than sugar in disguise.
8. Nuts and seeds – extremely high in fibre, and a great protein source for a plant food source. Longitudinal research has indicated that those who eat nuts and seeds daily live longer than those who do not. However, intake should be kept to moderate levels (1-2 handfuls daily) as, whilst the fats in them are mostly good fats, they are energy dense.
9. Oranges and apples – these are almost twice as filling as bananas for the same amount of calories. They are both high in water and in fibre and low in glycaemic ingex (GI), so you get more food for less calories. The whole fruit is a far lower GI and more filling option than the juice.
10. Salad – Once again, salad is low GI and high in fibre and water, so you it keeps you more full for less calories. Research from the US has found that those who eat salad at the start of a meal eat less calories for the day than those who skip the salad.
However don’t overdo it with oily or sugary dressing or mayonnaise. Simple dressings such as apple cider vinegar or olive oil and balsamic vinegar are perfect and healthy options.