Many people who diet seek healthy ways to prevent cravings and reduce hunger throughout the day to consume fewer calories. Ultimately, their goal is to feel fuller for longer on fewer calories. When experts discuss weight loss and proper nutrition, they mainly discuss how protein can help keep you satisfied by helping you stay full.
However, protein isn’t the only nutrient that can help you reach your weight loss goals. When you start a diet, you try to eat healthier foods like fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, these foods are not packed with protein, like lean meats, but they can help you stay full throughout the day. This article will discuss the benefits of fruits and vegetables and how they can help you stay fuller for longer.
Believe it or not, you can lose weight by eating more food. However, that food must be healthy and low in calories like vegetables. The more food you put in your body, the fuller you’ll feel, with or without protein. While protein can help you consume less food and support muscle growth, vegetables can also help you achieve your weight loss goals by helping you stay fuller based on density.
Energy density is the number of calories in food. You can figure out the energy density of any food by looking at the nutrition label on the packaging. High energy density means there are more calories in a small amount of food, while low energy density means fewer calories in a large amount of food. For example, vegetables are low energy density foods that allow you to eat more of them with fewer calories, helping you feel fuller without consuming more calories.
Calories and Weight Loss
Consuming more calories than you need will contribute to weight gain while consuming less than you need will contribute to weight loss. A few factors play a role in what makes a particular food’s energy density, including:
- Water: Foods with higher water content provide more volume and weight with fewer calories. For example, cucumbers are 96% water and only about 30 calories.
- Fiber: Fiber is similar to protein because it can help you feel fuller for longer. Fiber takes longer for your body to digest, making you feel fuller with fewer calories. Fiber is found in plants and whole grains. If you have digestion issues, you can also take supplements to help.
- Fat: Fat has high energy density, so the more fat something has, the more calories it will contain. Some foods are higher in fat, such as red meat, which is why they’re higher in calories.
Since vegetables are high in water and fiber, they can help you stay fuller for longer with fewer calories, allowing you to eat virtually as much as you want without gaining weight. Of course, be careful with fruits, though. Fruit contains sugar and is naturally higher in calories than vegetables. That being said, because they contain fiber and water, both fruits and vegetables will keep you fuller for longer and on fewer calories.
How Can Fruits and Vegetables Help You Manage Your Weight?
Fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories than unhealthy snacks and processed foods. Since you must eat fewer calories than your body uses throughout the day to lose weight, you must focus on eating low energy density foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.
Luckily, when on a weight loss journey, you don’t have to eat less food; it’s the type of food that matters most. For example, you can eat cucumber all day long and lose weight, but you can’t do the same thing with chips.
What Fruits and Vegetables Are Most Filling?
While all fruits and vegetables are considered healthy because they’re packed with vitamins and minerals, some are more filling than others based on water and fiber content. Here are the top most filling fruits and vegetables to add to your meals and snacks:
- Pears: One pear contains around 4 grams of fiber and high water content that takes up more space in your stomach to keep you full.
- Apples: Apples are another great source of fiber and water. Swap out your mid-day snack with an apple to help you feel full until dinnertime.
- Oranges: Oranges are filling because they contain fiber and high water content. Additionally, since you have to peel oranges, they give your brain enough time to communicate with your stomach to let you know you’re full before you accidentally over-indulge.
- Carrots: Carrots are another excellent source of fiber, and one serving contains only 50 calories. They’re also relatively sweet, and since you have to chew them to make them small enough to swallow, you give your stomach and brain enough time to communicate that you’re full.
- Avocados: Avocados are filled with healthy fats and a significant amount of fiber. They contain around 7 grams of fiber per half, making them one of the most filling fruits to eat throughout the day.
- Celery: Celery is another vegetable that can help you stay fuller for longer because it’s packed with nutrients with very few calories. It also prolongs the eating experience.
- Broccoli: Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains 4 grams of fiber in every cup. It’s also satiating because it contains protein, unlike many other fruits and vegetables.
While consuming more fruits and vegetables can help you stay full longer, you must focus on a balanced diet. If you’re not vegan or vegetarian, a balanced diet will consist of the proper balance of meat, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, protein is an important nutrient, so even though fruits and vegetables will give you tons of fiber and can help you stay fuller, you still need to consume high-protein foods to maximize your results.
Remember, the key to losing weight isn’t just feeling full longer– eating enough of anything can make you feel full for hours. So instead, focus on consuming fewer calories and finding foods that can help keep you satiated and away from junk food.
Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends.