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The problem with those top 10 lists of "filling snacks to keep at home"

I've been seeing lists of "top 10 filling snacks" and "weight loss meal plans" oozing onto my social media feeds. The problem with this is that without understanding how they fit into your eating strategy, they can just be a false promise for control in this time of uncertainty. As with most scenarios involving food - people are looking for the quick fix when it's all way more personal than that.

It'll be helpful for you to become more aware or two things: 1.) Your hunger and satiety levels throughout the day

2.) Satiety and satisfaction level of at least six foods/meals/snacks that fill you up

Your hunger and satiety levels

I always recommend to my clients to eat about every four hours (average of every 3-5 hours really). This is generally in line with recommendations to support muscle maintenance, muscle recovery, control hunger, as well as blood sugar and energy.

It's important to understand what kinds and how much food will satisfy you to get from one meal to the next without being overly hungry. A coffee and danish in the morning likely won't satisfy the hunger of the average person because it digests rapidly. Along the same lines a non-fat yogurt and a few berries may not either.

Personally, I need to consume 500-700 calories in the morning or I know my performance in the gym, energy for work, overall focus, and hunger control are shot. I've made a routine of quick oats with almonds, PB, honey, and a mix of whole milk and kefir. I eat it like cold cereal. I supplement this with a protein shake, fish oil, vitamin D, multivitamin, creatine, and beta-alanine. Previously, I relied on 3 eggs and fruit, but it never seemed to "hit the spot" as I'd always be overly hungry once lunch time came around - and then the over ordering or binge would happen.

How can you find out what works for you?

Try this:

  • Write down all the food you eat in a day and the times you eat them. No need to calorie count, just write down what you eat on a piece of paper. If you know the calorie totals then go ahead and add them because it can be informative, but again, no need to.

  • Before and after each item or meal, every hour if you can, I want you rate your hunger 1-5. See the image below for a scale you can use. Take additional note of any moments where you binged, felt anxious about binging, tired, energetic, depressed, agitated, or felt very in control.

  • At the end of the day or the next day take look back and see in what meals you could have increased or decreased portion sizes to land closer to "three". If you're eating a small breakfast or skipping it all together - it can be obvious why you binged just before lunch or over ordered take out at dinner. If you were devouring all the ice cream in your fridge just after dinner - maybe snacking on a 100 cal pack of nuts and having only steamed vegetables for dinner wasn't the answer to set up control for the evening.

  • Use the above to help identify times of the day when you're feeling most challenged. Stay aware. Be vigilant. If you found that before and after lunch is easy for you to control hunger cravings then try to maintain those habits. If by mid afternoon you're moody and hangry then add more satiating foods and potion sizes to you afternoon snack and reach out to ask for support with food ideas or strategies to control hunger.

Identify foods/meals/snacks that fill you up

Protein + fiber = hunger control

This is part of the mantra I share with my clients. Foods higher in protein digest slower and provide satiety. Foods high in fiber (especially soluble fiber) digest slow and provide satiety as well. This all goes without saying, together these foods support muscle maintenance, recovery from workouts, blood sugar control, cholesterol reduction, digestive health, and stable energy throughout the day.

As I stated above, just because you have these kind of snacks around is not fool proof. You want to make sure you understand how they affect you. One person may eat hard boiled eggs and an apple for snack and feel very satisfied, while the next person may be ravenous after. A simple solution for the latter person would be to possibly increase the amounts of eggs or apples or both! They may need to choose a new snack all together. You have to find what works for you. See some snack examples below that

Top six protein foods:

  • Dry roasted edamame: Seapoint Farms (also a great fiber source)

  • Hard boiled eggs: Eggland's Best sells already hard boiled eggs

  • Jerky: EPIC bars, Jack Links, Crave

  • Protein bars: Rise Bar, Quest Bar, RXBAR

  • Protein shakes/powders: Thorne, Isopure, BlueBonnet

  • Greek yogurt: Siggis, Icelandic Provisions

Top six fiber foods:

  • Clementines and apples

  • Dried/fresh mango and apricots

  • Tiger Nuts: Organic Gemini

  • Splitz split pea crisps

  • Baby carrots or sugar snap peas

  • Black berries and raspberries

Make sure you do me a favor and don't take this list at face value. I know these have worked for my clients and myself in the past, however they may not for you - and that's ok. Take this list and when you eat these foods rate them on as similar scale like I mentioned earlier. Find the foods that keep you satisfied and rate them 3-4. Prioritize those. When you find a food that you may rate a 1-2 them it'll be important to NOT think they aren't helpful, you can pair them up with other foods on the list to bring the full snack option up to a more satisfying level. I think you get it.

What snacks and meals have you found to be most satisfying you? Comment and let me know.