With the increased availability of food (especially high calorie foods) and the increased portion sizes among Americans, it is no wonder that overweight and obesity are so prevalent today.
People are taking in more calories and expending less of them more than ever, favoring weight gain and unfavorable body weights.
Considering portion size plays a huge role in weight gain, aiming to prevent overeating and/or attempting to achieve fullness more quickly would be very helpful in our quest to lose weight and keep it off.
Below are 4 simple actions you can take to achieve that feeling of fullness more quickly in the aim to prevent overeating and hopefully, better achieve your weight loss and/or weight maintenance goals.
4 Strategies to Control Hunger & Prevent Overeating
1. Drink 12-16 oz of water 15-30 minutes prior to your meal
Our stomachs cannot sense or measure the amount of calories we consume but it can detect volume (we feel more full as our stomach stretches). Drinking water before a meal can aid in your feeling of fullness and help prevent overeating once you begin your actual meal. According to a study done by Dennis EA, et al. 2010, “Weight loss was ~2 kg greater in the water group (those consuming 500 ml of water prior to their meals) than in the non water group, and the water group showed a 44% greater decline in weight over the 12 weeks than the non water group”.
And from a systematic review done by Daniels MC, et al. Nutr Rev. 2010, “These findings from clinical trials, along with those from epidemiologic and intervention studies, suggest water has a potentially important role to play in reducing energy intake, and consequently in obesity prevention. A need for randomized-controlled trials to confirm this role exists”. Though there are limitations to both these studies and further study on the subject needs to be done, taking in water pre meal could very well help prevent overeating.
Sufficient water intake is beneficial in so many ways so taking in more water (though not excessive intake) would be beneficial even outside this proposed benefit.
Aim to drink 12-16 oz of water 20-30 minutes prior to your meals as well as sipping water throughout.
2. Eat more low calorie dense foods (foods with high volume relative to the calorie content) such as fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain a high amount of water and therefore are much more filling relative to many other foods. They also contain fiber which can aid in satiety (the feeling of fullness), which we will talk about next.
Aim to eat a serving of vegetables and/or fruit with each meal, preferably eating it/them first.
Another wise strategy is to eat a piece of fruit or small portion of vegetables before snacking on high calorie dense foods (chips, candy, etc).
Aim to eat a small bag of baby carrots, several sticks of celery, or an apple prior to snacking to help prevent overeating high calorie dense snacks like peanuts, chips, etc.
3. Eat more fiber rich foods
Soluble (dissolves in water) fiber can create an extended feeling of fullness by delaying the emptying of the stomach, as well as slowing down the movement of food through the intestines (effectively slowing down digestion as a whole).
Some foods you can add to your diet that contain soluble fiber include oats, beans, apples, berries, carrots, spinach, broccoli, and soybeans.
Insoluble fiber cannot be dissolved in water (such as soluble fiber) however it can absorb water and in doing so create a feeling of fullness.
Insoluble fiber sources: In the skins of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and bran
Adding more whole grains, fruits and vegetables (among the other foods listed above) to your daily diet can help you take in more fiber and therefore help you consume less food at each meal.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics the recommended amount of dietary fiber is about 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women each day (though the exact amounts will vary depending on factors such as age and energy needs) (1)
4. Eat more protein rich foods
Like fiber, protein is known for its high satiety factor (feeling of fullness).
Generally, protein increases satiety to a greater extent than fat or carbs (excluding fiber) and because of this, eating a sufficient amount of protein at each meal may help you to eat less over the course of the day.
As with all weight loss strategies, this one by itself will not be of much help. However, added along side the other 3 strategies, proper protein intake may be found to aid in an increased feeling of fullness and/or help prevent overeating at meals.
Some foods to add into your diet to increase your protein intake are; eggs, lean meats, fish and/or seafood, Greek yogurt and other low-fat dairy products, nuts, beans and peanut butter.
It is hard to dispute the fact that overeating is one of the key factors leading to weight gain over the past 50 or so years.
This decrease in energy expenditure and increase in energy intake has played a huge role in the continually growing problem of overweight and obesity.
Controlling how much food we take in at each meal, by eating to achieve fullness more quickly can play a huge part in our efforts to lose weight and keep it off.
I hope these 4 tips are found to be helpful and can aid you in achieving your weight loss goals more effectively and successfully.
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Thanks for reading!