Is it one of those days when your stomach feels like a bottomless pit?  Are you looking for ways to fill up without filling out? Sure, that bag of trail mix appears ‘healthy’ – especially the one without M&M’s… But did you know that there are 86 calories in just 1/8 of a cup?  And let’s face facts – no one eats a “an 1/8 cup” of trail mix.  No one.  That’s like one nut.  The good thing is there are countless combinations of healthy foods that will help you feel sated without the hidden calories.

As a general guideline look for foods with these three things:

  • low-calorie protein
  • fiber
  • water

(And always start your snack or meal with a tall glass of water and give it 15 minutes.  It’s a common to mistake thirst for hunger, and sometimes some simple H2O is really what your body needs!)

Another tip is to prepare snacks or meals ahead of time.  We all know how stressful it is to face the fridge at the end of a long day.  It’s work to create healthy, tasty food.  When you do have the time, plan or cook for the week.  Prep veggies, stock up on healthy options for fast and easy meals, and do some experimenting with snack ideas.  Whether you’re reaching for just a nibble or for ‘second breakfast’ – get inspired by this list of low-calorie, yet filing foods!

1.  Pork Tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin

All Pork is Not Created Equal!  A serving of pork tenderloin is only 93 calories, with a mere 1.8 g of fat.  Even though lean meats do contain more calories than, say, carrot sticks – the high protein content will keep you feeling full longer and less likely to snack in between meals.   Pork tenderloin also contains a significant amount of selenium and phosphorous.  Selenium helps regulate your metabolism by controlling the activity of thyroid hormones, and it also protects the cells that line your blood vessels from damage.

2.  Reduced-Fat Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese in Heart-Shaped Bowl

Cottage cheese has long been a staple in health-conscious diets.   A 1/2 cup is only 110 calories and boasts 14 g of protein! The same half cup of ice cream contains around 250 calories, and a half of a cup of potato chips can contain nearly 300 calories! A cottage cheese habit is also good for the bones – a single serving contains 8% of your total recommended  daily calcium!

3.  Energy Burning Greens

Veggies with a higher water to calorie ratio actually require the body to burn calories while eating them! Check it: a serving of broccoli is only 30 calories  – but it requires 80 c calories to digest!   Another reason to eat your broccoli is the fiber content – it is equal to that found in rice – and will help you feel full and satisfied longer. Not a broccoli fan? Asparagus, cauliflower, celery, and zucchini all fall into this category!

4. Eggs

Sunny Side Up Eggs

“Eggs are one of the few foods that are a complete protein, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids that your body can’t make itself,” says Joy Dubost, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Once digested, those amino acids trigger the release of hormones in your gut that suppress appetite.”  And don’t be afraid of the yolk!  About half of the protein lives in the yellow.  

5.  Oatmeal

Bowl of Homemade Oatmeal

Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast or mid-day snack to warm the belly.  Rich in fiber, versatile in flavor, and relatively low in calories (1/2 cup contains 150 calories) make oatmeal a pretty good deal.  And it soaks up liquid like a sponge, therefore a little goes a long way to keep the hunger pangs at bay!    For some added protein crush a handful of your favorite nuts on top.  Get creative with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, or go antioxidant with a handful of blueberries!

Happy Eating!