Feeling Hungry? Can food selection keep hunger away?

When you’re dieting and the hunger starts to set in it is natural to become inventive with the foods you eat, trying to curb that sweet tooth and trying to increase the amount of volume in our food in order to make those annoying hunger pangs disappear.  There are many ways we can add volume to foods; by adding greens or low-calorie foods by being imaginative with things like cauliflower rice and courgette spaghetti, or soaking our oats for an eternity to get them to soak up every last bit of water to make that bowl and our bellies as full as possible.  The capacity for a food to be filling is known as its satiety and making food selections based on how full they make you feel might be make or break when trying to stick to a nutrition plan.

The satiety index was created to identify which foods make us feel the most full. If we consider these foods, their calorie content and macronutrient composition then this can be a good indicator of what foods we should be including in a fat loss diet to make sure we keep those hunger pangs at bay whilst providing us with all our essential nutrients to keep us healthy. On the other side of the coin we might consider avoiding some of these filling foods if you have a small appetitive or a fast metabolism, when you need to make sure you are eating enough calories to support muscle growth.

The satiety index is based on a score out of a hundred, which is the score given to white bread.  Foods were made into portions equating to 240kcal and where fed to participants. Measures of fullness were taken every 15 minute for two hours and the score was calculated by dividing the area under the satiety response curve (the area under the graphs) for the food by the area under the curve for white bread, and multiplying this by 100. So in effect the foods listed below are given as a percentage of white breads effects on hunger, with a bigger number being more filling. Some of these foods are shown in the table below…



French fries






White pasta


Baked beans




Brown Rice






White rice






Grain bread






Wholemeal bread




Ice cream


Brown pasta






Potatoes, boiled




As you can see some of the foods with plenty of sugar and fat have low satiety, as we move away from processed, sugary foods to more wholegrain carbohydrate sources satiety increases with potatoes being the big winner that we should start thinking about including in the diet! This also goes for oats and it is no surprise that these become a staple, along with spuds, in many bodybuilders’ pre-contest diets for that reason and an apple (or orange) a day might not keep the doctor away but it certainly seems to keep hunger at arm’s length!

Beef also fairs well in this index and it is known that high protein when dieting not only helps protect muscle but also helps with feeling of fullness so is encouraged to be included by many weight loss experts. Unsurprisingly the volume of food that would be required to make up a 240kcal portion is often associated with the fullness rating, but there are some exceptions so something else must be playing a part in generating a feeling of fullness.

Some foods that may be surprising as having moderate satiety scores are things like cookies and jelly beans; although for some these might be trigger foods so should be avoided especially when already in a potentially hungry dieting state… Trigger foods are the foods that when you start eating them you just can’t stop (we all have them, mine are biscuits dunked in tea, a packet can easily disappear in an instant!). It might be considered healthy to eat a good source of fats, but if peanut butter is your trigger food, a little taste might turn into you demolishing an entire tub… this obviously isn’t going to be an ideal situation to stick to a nutrition plan to say the least.

If you follow an IIFYM type diet, it might be that you try to fit some of these foods into your diet, it might be that your fine with the odd square of chocolate or bag of crisps… but if that turns into binge it might be worth reconsidering it and saving it for a special occasion no matter how well you can fit it into your daily calorie intake. Remember that foods are more than just nutrients; they have social, cultural and psychological associations that need to be considered if you are going to successfully stick to your nutrition plan.

Take Away Points 

If you are following a controlled calorie diet I highly recommend carefully selecting your food choices to ensure you are keeping full for as long as possible. For example, 300g of boiled potatoes is going to fill you up a hell of a lot more than half bag of microwave rice or pasta. Or 100g of volumised porridge is going to leave you ten times fuller than 100g of your favourite cereal. be clever with your food election and do your best to stay away from trigger foods just in case!