Always gonna fill you up, never gonna let you down
November 3, 2015 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Tell me about your foods and recipes that give you the maximum fullness bang for your calorie buck.

I'm trying to make some healthy lifestyle changes (read: get off my sedentary ass, and shed some very persistent baby weight).

I'm not interested in yo-yo dieting, and I don't currently have enough self control to even get down that first yo. Plus, when I'm very hungry, I'm irritable and unfocused. So I'm trying to identify foods and meals to incorporate into my diet that will help me feel full, while resulting in a lower calorie intake.

I currently eat three meals a day and try not to snack too much, though my current schedule requires a late dinner and there's a definite 6pm danger zone. I've experimented with more frequent smaller meals, but frankly, after finishing one (or my small snack of fifteen nuts) I find myself in RAVENOUS BEAST mode and wind up overeating anyway.

I don't expect the weight loss to be rapid. If I could lose 15 pounds in the next year that'd be a fine start. I'm more interested in having a repertoire of meals and snacks that make me feel good, are healthy, and don't leave me miserable and hungry.
posted by telepanda to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 108 users marked this as a favorite
Good question, I look forward to reading the answers as well. I'm a fan of protein at every/most meals. Filling, but low calorie options for me include boiled eggs and unsweetened greek yogurt. I also think a snack of cheese helps me feel satisfied. I often pair these with an apple, carrots, or other fruits/veggies. Good luck to you! You can do it.
posted by cabbagesnkings at 11:40 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

- Include lots of salads and cooked vegetables with every meal. They won't fill you up by themselves but they will let eat far more volume and when combined with the rest of the meal it works well.
- Single serving 100 calorie popcorn is my go-to snack. There is so much food there, lots of chewing and it makes me full.
- Fresh Apples are another good snack, sweet, lots of volume and about 100 calories. Combine it with a just a little cheese to get some fat and protein and you have more filling snack.
posted by metahawk at 11:43 AM on November 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

posted by veery at 11:46 AM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

There is a school of thinking that looks at carbohydrate intake instead. Since you're saying that you are irritable when hungry (indicating jo-joing blood sugar levels), it might be something to look into.

The idea would be to drastically reduce sugar intake and other carby things like bread, potatoes and pasta, but keep the calories as they are (or even increase calorie intake).
As an example, a lunch with a piece of grilled salmon, potatoes, a salad with a sweet dressing, and ice cream with your coffee will inevitably make you sleepy after, say, half an hour and quite hungry again at around four o clock.
The salmon alone, on the other hand, perhaps with a nice cream sauce and a well-filled salad at the side with nuts, cheese, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper will instead keep you going all afternoon without any irritability (ymmv, but that's the principle).
So this technique would do at least two things: 1) reduce any possible (irrepressible) hunger before meals and 2) work towards weight loss, as you both will eat less between meals and, conveniently, because fat alone doesn't make fat, while a mix of carbs and fat does (or so is the theory. Metabolisms vary).
posted by Namlit at 11:48 AM on November 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

For supper I usually stir-fry vegetables in olive oil - using a combination of pretty much any vegetables I have on-hand, with some protein (usually meat) tossed in. Add spices and lemon juice/vinegars for flavor, not sauces - spice mixes like Cajun, Italian, Mexican blends are good. If I use fresh tomatoes they break down a bit and make their own sauce. If I really feel like I need rice or pasta or something, I just take a little bit and pile the stir fry on top.

Combinations I have recently done:
Zucchini, kale, leeks, scallops, Cajun seasoning, lemon juice.
Zucchini, fennel, leeks, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, dash of vermouth.
Broccoli, baby bok choi, onion, beef slices, soy sauce, miso, mirin.
Bell peppers, zucchini, onion, pork, taco seasoning

zucchini is the best vegetable ever.
posted by lizbunny at 11:50 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Lots and lots of vegetables and fruit, a bit of meat, plus Greek yogurt and eggs. I make spicy onion soup (onions, broth, and curry spices) or steam copious amounts of vegetables and add salsa or a little bit of milk mixed with curry powder. Breakfast is a cup of frozen berries and 3/4 cup Greek yogurt. I let myself have as much fruit as I want for snacks. Lunch is sometimes a can of tuna with a tblspn of light mayo and a cucumber chopped into rounds to scoop it up. I stay away from salads because lettuce just isn't that satisfying and it's too easy to put too much dressing on, unless you just use balsamic vinegar. Nuts are a lot of calories for little satisfaction, so I don't eat them. Just make most meals about vegetables, and then add a bit of protein.
posted by meringue at 11:54 AM on November 3, 2015

Chickpea cutlets! About 235 calories and 22 grams of protein per cutlet, and you can spritz with spray oil and bake them rather than frying to cut the calories even more. They are intensely delicious and will definitely keep you full. Serve with a nice leafy salad or some steamed green beans tossed in lemon juice and sea salt.

I am also duty-bound to recommend Appetite for Reduction for low-fat, low-calorie, full-flavor recipes.
posted by divined by radio at 12:04 PM on November 3, 2015 [8 favorites]

Protein is where it's at for me, too. I recently, because of anemia reasons, have begun using barley a lot more than I used to, but luckily I think barley is totally delicious. It holds up to tons of different toppings, has a good nutritional profile on its own, and for me at least keeps me feeling fuller much longer than another carb like rice or bread.

I take pearl barley, which you can find for a very reasonable price, and cook it with chicken or vegetable broth, a little salt and butter or oil until it is tender. I've also made a sweet version with milk and a little honey but since I like savory breakfast it didn't hit the spot for me as much. Just simmer your barley, tasting it now and then for doneness, and if you added too much liquid you can strain it, or you can add some water if it's not cooked and looking too dry. It'll take a little less than an hour, (there are lots of slow cooker recipes too, but I prefer stove top) but you can make a big batch and portion it and it freezes well and will last a week in the fridge. You can reheat it in the microwave with other toppings or toss it in last minute to another dish (it's great in stews) or sprinkle it cold onto a salad for chewy texture.

Good accompaniments include: fried eggs, dark greens like arugula or watercress or kale, simmered vegetable stews with root vegetables, any kind of bean, avocado and a little lime, leftover meatballs and tomato sauce, sweet potato chunks with a little extra butter, olives cherry tomatoes and canned tuna (think salad nicoise), peppers and onions, the list goes on.

Also for fullness I like bulky green vegetables. Revisit cabbage and try crunchy cabbage salads as a base for protein and a vehicle for strong flavors like citrus, vinegar, spicy curry sauces, or crispy fruits like apples and pears. Check out cauliflower (I know I know it's not green but it's really good for you and tastes great raw or cooked) and think about roasting it with a good quality olive oil and a dusting of your favorite spices (I like paprika, cumin, tumeric, salt) and roasting it fairly dry - great cold from the fridge as a snack or hot as a side. Broccoli is great for marinating, cut it up into little pieces and keep it tightly sealed in a vegetarian marinade in the fridge and use as-is, or then quickly stir fry at high heat to get some complexity. Brussels sprouts are currently in season in the northern hemisphere and wonderful halved, tossed in olive oil and salt, roasted cut-side-down until a little crispy and tender when poked with a knife; toss them with dried fruit like cranberries or chopped apricots and a little vinegar for an interesting salad, or serve hot with a little parmesan, or slice and use like a cooked slaw as a salad base or with a nice piece of fish on top.
posted by Mizu at 12:04 PM on November 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Creds: I've recently dropped 35 pounds.

High protein foods are extremely important for me at least for breakfast and lunch. Eggs, tuna, tofu (I'm pescatarian). I actually just decided that I could deal with having the same breakfast and lunch every week day--less to think about, quick and easy, I don't care about the repetition. So for breakfast I have one egg mixed with 2-3 tbl of extra egg white (from a carton), and 1/2 oz of sharp shredded cheese, scrambled, and 2 piece of vegetarian bacon, and a cup of sweet, milky tea (this is my morning necessity). For lunch I have a packet of tuna mixed with a little mayo and dijon mustard, on crackers. For snacking where I just want to shove something in my piehole, I'm not actually hungry, I'll have popcorn, or pickles, something like that that is mostly air or water. If I'm legit hungry, nuts, yogurt, or something "bad" in a small quantity mixed with something that will actually satisfy me (like one oz of potato chips dipped in a bowl of full fat greek yogurt).

I'm actually finished losing now and have moved more to maintaining, but I still have that same breakfast and lunch. It's the snacks that are now different as I am free to have a little Halloween candy or a cookie or something.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:06 PM on November 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is a great question and I look forward to others answers, I eat vegan a couple days a week and tend to be ravenous.

I found some really great Tamari roasted almonds at a local specialty grocery store, I'll usually nosh about 10-12 of them instead of going to town on chips if I want a savoury snack. On non-vegan days I like the low-fat version of the little Babybel cheeses. I also occasionally have organic sea salt popcorn.

Eggs or avocado toast for breakfast help me stay full, as does full-fat Greek yogurt (in small amounts with berries)
posted by raw sugar at 12:08 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Soup is very filling. Have a soup that has protein and fiber (like beans) and you'll feel full for a long while. Now that it's getting colder outside, hot soup can be very satisfying as well!
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:11 PM on November 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Egg scramble: I rinse a can of black beans for the week, then put about a quarter/third of a cup in a pan on medium heat to start warming them up. If I'm throwing in tomatoes (regular or sundried) I put 'em in there, too. While doing that, I nuke a good portion of frozen spinach (get the type in a bag). I crack 3 or 4 eggs into the spinach bowl and mix it up and add onion powder (I add a lot of it). By this point, the stuff in the pan is warm enough so I dump it all together and heat it up and add some cheese at the end or if I want carbs, I put a slice of cheese on an english muffin and make myself a sandwhich. This makes me more than enough eggs so the remainder either goes to my toddler - who loves it - or into a tupperware in the fridge for heating up some other day. This entire process takes maybe 10 min max.

I find when I eat eggs at breakfast, I snack way less.
posted by adorap0621 at 12:17 PM on November 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Think whole foods, in moderation, with good fats and you won't crash and fall into the overeating crap cycle (which is a place I've been known to go!). I am less of a greens, meat eater, egg-lover and more of a whole grains/legumes and fruit person but I've lost 25-30 lbs and maintained it with the following diet, and I'm never really hungry unless I can't eat at my usual times:

I do steel cut oats for breakfast, you can soak them in milk overnight in the fridge so they cook faster, add berries apples or nuts, delicious, I also add a tablespoon of coconut oil to help keep me full. I also make oatmeal tahini walnut cookies with maple syrup (no flour!) and use them when I need a fast breakfast.

Soups/stews for lunch - full of veggies and if you add a piece of two of good whole grain bread you'll be satisfied all afternoon. I make one or two soups on the weekend, freeze in bowl-size portions and rotate. My usual rotation is chicken tortilla soup, moroccan chickpea, a root veggie stew with lentils, and a turkey chili. I try to keep avocados on hand to cut up and add to the soups when I heat the soup. You can serve them with quinoa or rice to up the full factor too but if I eat a big bowl of soup and a small avocado I'm fairly stuffed.

More soups/stews for dinner but I try to skip the bread in the evening. I just try to do a light and early dinner and drink herbal tea with honey if I'm not hungry but sort of bored and wanting to eat. Sometimes I'll have a sandwich and an apple, sometimes a little smoothie that's just yogurt, banana, mango juice and cinnamon.

Dried apricots, figs, and dates are all delicious and they won't spike your blood sugar as much as a cookie or chocolate bar. I keep cliff bars on hand for emergencies and learned to make my own protein bars (do-able if you have a food processor). Ohsheglows has a great recipe for them but it's just peanut butter, honey/maple syrup, leftover cereal (I use wheat puffs), protein powder if you have it/want it, and whatever nuts you can find. I like doing just dates and cashews like a larabar.
posted by lafemma at 12:25 PM on November 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

Steel-cut oats are extremely filling for the number of calories. If I eat 1 cup for breakfast, I'm much less snacky for the rest of the day. I make a small pot and eat it over a couple of days.

Miso soup, roasted seaweed snacks, and green/oolong tea all have the effect of making you feel full, and have close to 0 calories.

Apples have around 100 calories, and are extremely filling.
posted by miyabo at 12:30 PM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Make your own salad dressing and carry a little jar in your bag. Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and a little Italian spice in a small, tightly sealed mason jar makes it possible to enjoy a big salad in a restaurant without all the added crap. And it tastes delicious so you don't feel like you're dieting.

A quarter cup of egg whites in a smoothie takes it from a sweet snack to a meal in a glass that will stick with you for a lot longer. You won't even taste it or know it's there.

Roasted veggies, any kind, will add nutrients without piling on the calories. Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, roast until slightly browned, and you have a full plate with not a lot of calories. There are shops springing up that sell flavored olive oil and just a little of it sprinkled on roasted veggies can take them to the next level of taste and satisfaction. Add a good baked protein like chicken breast or fish and that's a great meal.

Sliced pears are sweet and full of fiber if you have trouble shaking your sugar cravings.
posted by raisingsand at 1:10 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Meat slop! Ridiculous name, ridiculously filling, ridiculous amounts of protein and fibre, ridiculously delightful. We make huge batches and freeze them in lunch-size portions. You will have the most magical poops.
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 1:48 PM on November 3, 2015 [9 favorites]

Homemade hummus. (Store-bought is probably ok too.) On low-fat crackers or whole wheat pita bread (I like to toast pita over my gas burner till it's hot and has a few little brown marks). A warm pita filled with hummus and a small drizzle of olive oil makes a great lunch. Or, for fewer calories and more fiber, have it on carrots or cucumber spears. Here's my favorite recipe. If you have a high-powered blender, that's perfect for this.

For dinner: black beans and rice. Here's a foolproof recipe for black beans you can make in the oven. I like to serve these over brown rice, with some store-bought salsa, some grated cheese and sour cream, and slices of avocado if I have any. It is a VERY satisfying dinner, and it tends to keep me full.

Personally, I feel that legumes are great for preventing that high/low blood sugar feeling that so often leads to major snacking.

Also, seconding the person who said to learn to make your own salad dressing. In season, I like to make dinner salads with greens, tomatoes, avocados, cukes, other vegetables. For me the key to making it a meal is to add some items with fat and/or protein: avocados, goat cheese, and/or walnuts. This balsamic vinaigrette changed my life.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 2:07 PM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I am a slave to eating pretty much the same foods over and over and I like to eat a lot.. My list is made of:

* popcorn. I eat a lot of popcorn. I microwave kernels in a paper bag and add lots of garlic powder and black pepper, no oil or butter.
* salads of carrots, cukes, kale and celery which is incredibly filling, especially if I use an avocado (mixed with little salt and pepper) as a creamy dressing.
* baby peppers, sugar snap peas, edamame, kimchee, jicama, picklesc and roasted broccoli.
* apples and asian pears.
* I eat a lot of vegetable soup. Mostly carrots, celery, onions, parsnip, rutabaga (so delicious and it passes as a potato), mushrooms, tomatoes and zucchini. I roast many pans of veggies and throw them into a Dutch oven with veggie broth, whatever beans I have and lots of spices.
* plain fat-free Greek yogurt mixed with chopped up apples, oat bran and truvia.
* cabbage and bean soup.
* shredded cabbage with slivered almonds, rice vinegar, sriracha and a few drops of sesame oil.
posted by kinetic at 2:15 PM on November 3, 2015

I keep some 100-calorie packets of instant oatmeal at my work desk. If I am super hungry I'll cook one in my mug in the microwave. It's only 100 calories, and it sticks to the ribs. It's my go-to emergency snack.
posted by Elly Vortex at 2:27 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cabbage Soup

1/2 head cabbage, chopped
1 pound ground beef (the leaner the better)
6 cups water
1 onion, chopped
3 T sugar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 T salt
bay leaf
2 6-oz cans of tomato paste

Combine all ingredients (except tomato paste) in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer one hour. Add the tomato paste and simmer 15 minutes longer.

This reheats and freezes well.
posted by DrGail at 4:03 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

A typical lunch (recently) for me is a salad consisting of:
a shit ton of baby spinach
1/2 cup of canned beans
tinned sardines, drained
1/2 cup of pico de gallo
2T bolthouse yogurt dressing
hot sauce

That's about 400 calories and will stick with you for a long time.

Breakfast has been:
steel cut oats and 1/2 C of frozen berries --or--
rice chex with a banana --or--
two frozen bananas and 1/2 C of frozen berries run through a blender

Each is about 250-300 calories and the chex is little light so on those days I have about 130 calories of trail mix around 10:30.
posted by plinth at 5:26 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Foods: anything either high protein, high fiber or high water content. Example: very lean beef, carrots, watermelons. A fourth category: flavor dense but nutritionally low: condiments. You can pair condiments with things in the first three categories e.g. Broth with Stuff.

You can take a look at the satiation index to get a feel for things, but seeing as potatoes are ranked very highly there, I would take it with a grain of salt.

Drinks: diet soda, tea with artificial sweeteners, coffee if you can tolerate that.

Snacks: gum, mint.
posted by kinoeye at 5:59 PM on November 3, 2015

Also take a look at what actors/actresses eat (or do not eat haha) when trying to lose weight quickly for a role.
posted by kinoeye at 6:00 PM on November 3, 2015

Goddamn: it's the incredible, edible egg.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:41 PM on November 3, 2015

Nutritional yeast is a great topping to add to anything to make it feel more filling (and taste more umami). I think it has a stupid-high protein to calorie ratio.
posted by goodnight to the rock n roll era at 7:57 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cottage cheese with fruit or with savory seasoning (I like herbs de province) is quite low calorie and very filling. I also like hard boiled eggs with hot sauce.
posted by ellebeejay at 8:37 PM on November 3, 2015

unsweetened peanut butter!
posted by Tenzing_Norgay at 11:21 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Eggs eggs eggs eggs eggs. Can you have a boiled egg or two between meals? I don't know what meal plan you are following, but I know that eggs are low in carbohydrates. The great thing about eggs is you can have them lots of different ways so if you're bored of boiled eggs you can try poaching them, etc.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:41 AM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

My absolute favorite is a salad of greens and a very light dressing with a piece of seared fish on top. Something about that combination is light but filling with a lot of staying power. You can do the same thing with a piece of chicken or other meat, but fish is really satisfying.

When I'm dieting/in a rush I have a fake meat burger (Boca or Gardein) almost every day, again with salad or with steamed spinach or similar.

Lunch staples that are very filling: sliced turkey; lower fat cheese. (Check for fat and protein content on the cheese and remember that if it's expressed in grams, fat content is higher in relation to protein than it might seem. I buy a lot of light cheddar and light feta from Trader Joe's.)

Miso is my favorite condiment for satisfaction and it seems very filling for how much you use. It's wonderful in salad dressing.
posted by BibiRose at 5:08 AM on November 4, 2015

You should try eating based on the clock, kind of like a baby. Feed yourself every 2-3 hours. Baby cries when he got hungry because mum or dad waited >2 hours to feed it.

The snacks and foods you eat need to be focused on high-fiber: apples, avocados, peaches, plums, pears, green/red/orange/yellow bell peppers, hummus, baba ganouj, broccoli and their peeled stems, kohlrabi (tastes faintly like cabbage or broccoli stems), grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mango, kiwi, spinach, cabbage, sugar snap peas, snow peas/pea pods, beans: black, red, and cannellini/white kidney and sweet potatoes/yams.

If you eat cold cereal in the morning, replace half the cereal with berries. The berries can be defrosted frozen ones.
posted by dlwr300 at 9:31 AM on November 4, 2015

I have a small maybe weird thing I do when I want to eat but really don't need any more calories: mix salsa and no-fat greek yogurt, and use as a dip for celery, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and carrots. Depending how much yogurt is involved, you can eat a huge plate for very few calories.

One adjustment in my perspective that helped me when I was losing weight over about 9 months a couple of years ago (not sure if it would be helpful to everyone): to me, it just made sense that if I was deliberately taking in fewer calories than my body was using, I would be hungry at some points. No tricks really changed that for me; it was just part of the work of losing the weight.

Now that I'm just maintaining, I'm not hungry anymore.
posted by palliser at 12:52 PM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

No one mentioned radishes. Can you tolerate radishes? If so you're looking at a food that is relatively filling, strongly flavored (so if, like me, you have that "I just wanna taste something" urge going on, that helps with that), fairly low calorie and probably nutritious too, I imagine.

You can get a variety of radishes. I like to eat the very small ones whole (and I'll eat the larger ones whole too, honestly, like a carrot, but this is higher difficulty level stuff).

You can slice radishes and quick pickle them in rice vinegar with a pinch or too of salt. They taste great in a sweet/sour pickle so if you're willing to "cheat" a bit, you can add a dash of stevia or maybe even a pinch of sugar (I wouldn't risk artificial sweeteners).

You can also get daikon and shred it and serve with grated ginger and a bit of salt or soy sauce.

Finally if you want something a little warmer, you can get some boiling water and pour it over some thinly sliced radishes (and scallions, if you like them). Once it has cooled to eating temperature, the radishes will be just barely cooked (should be fork tender). Add a tablespoon or so of miso to taste. This is a food that is only temporarily filling, as most of the volume is water. So actually it's a good choice if it's 90 minutes until dinnertime and you're feeling hungry in an insistent way. You can eat this and it will satisfy your hunger, not pack on many calories, and will still leave you enough appetite for dinner.

Yep. Radishes.

By the way, if you are a bit heavier and do lose some pounds over the winter, do not be surprised if you suddenly feel much, much colder. Nearly my entire youth and adult life I have been chilled to the bone during the winter. A couple of years ago I finally tipped the scales above 170 (putting me technically in the "overweight" BMI, egads) but for the first time in ever I was not cold.

So I absolutely commend you on trying to lose some weight, but if you are usually toasty during the winter and find yourself suddenly freezing this time, this may be why, and you may consider my strategy which is to bulk up slightly (no more than 4-5 lbs, ideally) during the winter and trimming down once March or April comes by (depending on when it gets warm in your area).
posted by Deathalicious at 7:12 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also: you mention nothing about your overall health, but be very aware when starting on a new diet. If you switch the majority of your food intake to new kinds of foods, it is possible that your body may react negatively.

For example, if you have mostly been eating simple carbs, junk food, and not very many fruits and vegetables, moving to a fruit/vegetable heavy diet may alert you to some food sensitivities you have.

Also I see people badmouthing potatoes above but although they are absolutely high in calories relative to other foods, they will make you feel full like almost no other vegetable. Eat them baked, with no sour cream, cheese, etc. added. Eat the skins, too — the skin of a potato is extremely rich in nutrients and will make you feel fuller.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:17 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

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