on Berkeley Wellness, March 2003
things influence how much food you eat at a meal, including
how long it has been since you last ate, the taste, smell, and
amount of food on your plate, and a complex array of physiological,
psychological, and genetic factors that shape appetite. One
important factor is satietythat is, how full you feel
while you eat and afterwards. The sensation of fullness occurs
when your stomach and intestines send signals to the brain.
If youre trying to lose weight, you should know that satiety
is not just a matter of how much you eat, but also which foods
expert on how to feel full on fewer calories is Dr. Barbara
Rolls. Her book The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan is
based on a series of studies she conducted over the last few
years at Penn State University in the Laboratory for the Study
of Human Ingestive Behavior. Much of it is just common sense,
but thats in short supply in this age of supersized fast
foods, hugely popular fad diets, and surging obesity rates.
key to weight control, according to Rolls, is to eat foods with
a low energy densitymeaning relatively few calories per
ounceso that you leave the table feeling full and satisfied
without breaking the calorie bank. Notable among these foods
are fruits and vegetables and dishes that contain them (such
as stews, pasta dishes, or smoothies), as well as soups. What
these have in common are a high water content and usually lots
of fiber. In contrast, foods with a high energy densitythat
is, lots of calories per ouncetypically have a low water
content, and often are high in fat, which is the densest source
easy to follow Rollss plan. For example, to reduce the
energy density of chili, use lean meat and add celery, extra
tomatoes, and mushrooms. To bulk up a pasta salad and cut the
calories in half, add zucchini, carrots, and other veggiesfresh,
canned, or frozen. Add lettuce, tomato, and pepper slices to
a sandwich. Snack on an apple instead of chips or pretzels,
for example, and grapes instead of raisins. A 100-calorie serving
of raisins is only one-quarter cup; but a 100-calorie serving
of grapes is nearly two cups. Its obvious which is going
to make you feel fuller.
usually have a low energy density (except for those containing
lots of butter or cream). In one Penn State study, women who
had soup as a first course ate fewer calories overall during
meals. Salads serve the same purpose, provided you use low-calorie
dressing. If you consume bulky water-rich foods, you dont
have to eat less food when you diet. And such foods tend to
be very nutritious. Rolls also recommends whole-grain pasta,
breads, and cereals; their fiber makes them more filling. Seafood,
skinless poultry, lean meats, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products
are also on the menu. Because of its protein content, milk,
even nonfat, helps people feel full and thus eat less. Whole
fruit is always preferable to juice.
is not the only researcher studying satiety. Australian researcher
Dr. Susanne Holt at the University of Sydney has developed a
Satiety Index based on how full people feel during the two hours
after eating 240 calories worth of various foods, which
are all compared to white bread. Bulky high-fiber foods such
as fruits and vegetables rate high. High-fat foods rank low,
since 240 calories worth is a small portion. For instance, baked
potatoes are more than three times as filling as white bread,
but fatty croissants are only half as filling as the bread.
Whole-grain bread is 50% more filling than white bread. Cakes,
doughnuts, and cookies (high in fat and sugar) are among the
least filling. The more fiber, protein, and water a food contains,
the longer it will satisfy.
the claims made by advocates of high-fat diets, fat seems to
have less of an effect on satiety than protein or carbohydrates.
However, studies on carbohydrates and satiety have had inconsistent
results, in part because foods containing them are so varied.
Clearly, some high-carbohydrate foods, such as fruits and vegetables,
which are high in fiber, are more filling than others, such
as white bread or pasta. Fiber boosts satiety in a number of
ways. And while insoluble fiber (abundant in whole wheat) increases
fullness in the short term, soluble fiber (in oats, for instance)
can produce a feeling of satiety many hours after a meal. A
number of studies have shown that high-fiber foods consumed
at breakfast or lunch can significantly reduce food intake at
the next meal, compared to low-fiber foods.
keep in mind: One way to eat more filling foods is to
find more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that you like.
Most people have a very limited range. Try a new fruit or vegetable
each week. And keep adding them to different dishes. It will
never get boring.
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