Trying to lose weight? 20 delicious (and healthy) foods and drinks that fill you up
Greek yogurt has twice the protein of regular yogurt—some brands contain more than 20 grams of protein per serving. “Protein not only keeps you satisfied longer but takes about 18 percent more energy to digest than fat,” says Angela Ginn, a registered dietician in Baltimore. Choose low-fat, plain varieties (to avoid added sugars) and add fresh fruit.
“Eggs are inexpensive, the protein sticks with you, and they can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner,” says Marisa Moore, a registered dietician in Atlanta. Grab a hard-boiled egg for breakfast or a snack for around 100 calories. Or make an omelet or scramble with spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms for dinner. If you’re watching your cholesterol, use half egg whites in the mix.
Whole grain breads
Whole grains stay with you longer than white flour, which loses nutrients and fiber in the refining process. Read the label to make sure the first ingredient listed is a whole grain, such as wheat or oats. You’ll also find whole grains in crackers, pasta and cereal.
Add a smear of peanut, almond or cashew butter to toast, an English muffin, or a few whole grain crackers for an added dose of protein, fiber and healthy fat. The creamy texture is appealing, and nut butters will satisfy you longer than other spreads such as butter or jam, says Joan Salge Blake, a registered dietician in Boston.
The soluble fiber in oatmeal keeps you full, helps lower cholesterol and regulates blood sugar levels. Opt for unsweetened varieties and add your own raisins, dried cranberries, a sprinkle of nuts and a shake of cinnamon or nutmeg. “If you prefer it sweet, drizzle on a little honey, molasses or maple syrup,” says Moore. “Whatever sweetener you add pales in comparison to how much sugar is found in the pre-made packets.”
2 percent milk
Feeling hungry? Try a glass of 2 percent milk, which has about 9 grams of protein—plus 350 mg of the 1,000 to 1,500 mg of daily calcium women need. Many of us are only getting about half of that each day.
With 6 or more grams of protein per 1 ounce serving, cheese is a perfect snack with a few whole grain crackers or an apple. It also contains calcium, which most women need more of. Choose a low-fat cheese such as mozzarella or a more flavorful and pungent type, like sharp cheddar or feta, so you’ll be satisfied with a small piece.
Whole grain cereal
Cereal can be a healthy snack any time if you choose wisely. Look for whole grains as the first ingredient, and choose brands that don’t have added sugars (sugar, corn syrup, fructose) listed in the first few ingredients, says Moore. To keep calories in check, stick to the suggested serving size.
A small apple has just 78 calories and almost 4 grams of fiber. Slice over salads, make them a midmorning snack with a smear of peanut butter or bake them with cinnamon and raisins for sweet-but-healthy dessert.
You may know that strawberries are high in fiber, but did you know raspberries actually have more? Raspberries have about 8 grams of fiber per cup, while strawberries have about 3 grams. Blueberries are another good high-fiber choice. And all berries contain disease-fighting antioxidants such as vitamin C.
“Nuts contain protein, good fat and fiber, which are three dietary components that will keep you satiated,” says Blake. Since nuts are high calories, watch portion size when snacking or buy the 100-calorie packages. Chop them up and sprinkle over yogurt or oatmeal—you'll get nuts in every bite without adding too many extra calories.
Chickpeas are versatile—you can make them into hummus for a dip or sandwich spread, add them to soups and stews or toss them on salads and pasta dishes. For a savory snack, roast chickpeas for 30 or 40 minutes at 425 degrees until crispy and toss with salt, pepper and/or Cajun spices. A half-cup of roasted chickpeas has 100 calories, 5 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber.
Small studies indicate drinking two to four cups of green tea daily can help burn more calories. While the effects are minimal, consider replacing a high-calorie drink with green tea, which contains no calories. “Little changes like this can add up to better health overall,” says Ginn.
A square of dark chocolate is more satisfying than milk chocolate, so you may be tempted to eat less. For a double-duty chocolate snack, dust some cocoa on a handful of almonds, which will curb your sweet tooth and provide a protein punch.
Whole grain pasta
Say "no, thank you" to regular pasta, which contains simple carbs that have no staying power in your stomach. “Whole grain pastas have improved tremendously in recent years in taste and texture,” says Moore. If whole wheat pasta is new to you, try the thinnest noodles, such as angel hair—you may not even notice a difference.
Latte with skim milk
By swapping out whole milk for 2 percent reduced-fat milk in a latte, you’ll get the same amount of calcium and protein but for fewer calories. Need we say more?
Low in calories but high in fiber, this lesser-known root vegetable is a pleasant change of pace from more common veggies. Its crisp texture and slight sweetness is especially refreshing in the summer. Try it cut into sticks, sliced into salads or shred it for tacos.
Like most fruits and vegetables, melon’s high water content keeps you satisfied with few calories. Expand your palate by trying less common varieties, such as spicy-sweet Crenshaw melons or sweet Santa Claus melons.
Turnips or rutabagas
These root veggies can be diced and roasted, added to stews or boiled and mashed as a substitute for white potatoes. They contain about 4 grams of fiber per cup, a smidge of protein and lots of potassium. Tip: Don't discard those vitamin-rich leafy tops—you can saute them as you would spinach and other greens.
Sometimes you just have to have something sweet, but it needn't ruin an otherwise healthy eating plan. Just drizzle a little chocolate syrup into your 2 percent milk and drink it hot or cold. You'll satisfy your sweet craving while filling up on appetite-busting protein.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.