But, with more than 72%* of us struggling to maintain a healthy weight what’s the alternative?
Diet expert Terri-Ann Nunns suggests we should aim to eat the right foods to keep us full and satisfied, rather than focussing on what we’re cutting out.
“People often think eating less is the best way to lose weight, but this isn’t always the case,” she tells Yahoo UK. “When people follow these diets, they often find themselves hungry and lacking in the ‘satisfaction’ that feeling full provides.
“When we eat a balanced, healthy diet that keeps us full and not hungry just after we’ve eaten, this is much more sustainable and much more likely to be more beneficial in the long run.”
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Eating larger, more filling meals also prevents us from falling victim to snack culture, according to Nunns. According to a OnePoll survey, 68% of office workers admit they snack twice a day.
“When we’re hungry, we snack and this is often where additional calories come in. We often mistakenly think that a ‘little snack’ won’t impact our diet, but extra 100 or 200 calories here and there can bump you over your daily limit.”
So – eat more, but still lose weight? We’re sold.
When it comes to what foods you should be eating in order to stay full, Nunns said as a general rule you should focus on a combination of fibre and protein.
However, other factors – such as the amount of water in foods – can also add to a food’s “filling factor”.
Here are the foods you should be stocking up on in order to keep you full throughout the day.
Whether they’re cooked in a hearty porridge or eaten as part of a Bircher muesli as the weather gets warmer, oats are great at filling you up.
“As well as being low in calories, oats are also a great source of fibre – which is what helps you feel full, as well as its ability to soak up water,” says Nunns. “If you start your morning with a good bowl of oats, you’re likely to feel satisfied until lunch and won’t be tempted to reach for snacks.”
This is all thanks to a component in spinach called thylakoids, which encourage our bodies to release satiety hormones which keep us fuller for longer by slowing down the rate at which we digest fat.
Aside from spinach, other leafy veg such as Brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli are full of fibre to keep you fuller longer – while ensuring you get essential vitamins in your diet.
Homemade soup is a dieter’s dream: low in calories but high in nutrients – especially if you include the fibre-packed veggies mentioned above. Soup’s filling because it’s basically a blended meal, after all. Plus, making soup yourself can help you avoid the added salt and preservatives sometimes associated with shop-bought varieties.
While drinking water before or after a meal isn’t enough to keep you full, one study has shown eating water-rich foods can help to keep you full – whether this is smoothies, water-rich fruits and vegetables like melon and cucumber, or, in this case, soups.
“It’s also been found that smooth soups actually leave the stomach at a much slower rate than solids, explaining why they help you stay feeling full,” she adds.
Whether scrambled, boiled or fried, eggs are a brilliant food for those looking to lose weight.
Not only are eggs high in protein, they also stimulate the production of a hormone called PYY in our bodies which is associated with suppressing your appetite, according to research.
Another study found egg consumption is linked to a decrease in in ghrelin – also known as the “hunger hormone” – which stimulates appetite, increases food storage and encourages our bodies to store fat.
While ideally you should focus on filling up at meal times, almonds are a good bet for a healthy, filling snack for those days we you need extra energy, suggests Nunns.
“Nuts are a great snack for multiple reasons as they all contain heart-healthy fats and are a great source of energy, but almonds in particular also have a high amount of fibre which is an essential part of the diet to help you feel fuller for longer,” she says.
Just watch your serving size, as nuts are high in calories – between 10 and 15 should be enough to keep you full.
One study found eating meals based around protein-rich legumes such as beans and peas keeps you fuller than eating pork or veal based meals.
This in turn means you eat less – the study participants who ate the veggie meals ate 12% less calories in their next meal compared to those who consumed the meat dish.
Interestingly, even when the beans and peas meals did not contain as much protein (which we typically associated with “fullness”) than the veal or pork meals, they still won in the filling stakes – thanks to a higher fibre content.
You may think loading up on low-fat, Greek-style yoghurt is a fool-proof way to keep you slim, but Nunns recommended going for the real deal is a better plan for a filling breakfast.
“Not only is Greek yoghurt rich in calcium and low in sugar, it’s also incredibly high in protein. It has around twice the amount of a normal yoghurt and has roughly the same as a piece of lean meat,” she says.
The method is tried and tested: in a study of overweight teenagers, subjects who ate a high-protein breakfast containing Greek yoghurt (as well as lean meat and eggs) had a reduced daily food intake compared to those who ate a normal-protein breakfast. Time to stock up.
We’ve all been told the “you’re not hungry, you’re thirsty” familiar, and research shows there really is some truth to it. Apparently, our brains are not very good at distinguishing between hunger and thirst – so, if you’re feeling peckish between meals, it’s recommended you drink water and then wait 20 to 30 minutes before reaching for a snack.
*According to stats from LightLife Fast