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The Satiety Index – How To Stay Satisfied On A Caloric Deficit

Not all food is created equal, when someone starts a diet we tell them “eat more of the good stuff”. By “good stuff” we mean whole unprocessed foods like meat, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. Highly processed foods can be very high in calories “energy dense” and at the same time not very satisfying in terms of hunger. This becomes a problem when you are trying to lose weight. While restricting calories the food you eat needs to be satisfying otherwise you’ll be hungry, hangry, unhappy and unlikely to stick to your diet with much consistency. On the other hand choosing the right foods means even if you are in a caloric deficit you won’t have to experience intense hunger and can improve you consistency.

In 1995 a study was done where subjects were given a 240 calorie serving of 38 different foods. Participants were then asked to rate their hunger every 15 minutes for the next 2 hours. After which subjects were led to a buffet style lunch where they could eat as much or as little as they wanted. Researches recorded the number of calories each subject consumed and combined that with their reported hunger levels prior to the meal to create the Satiety Index. What researches found was foods with higher protein, fiber, and water content were the most satisfying to the test subjects, foods higher in fat were the least satisfying. White bread was used as the baseline for satiety and set at 100%. The most satisfying food was boiled potatoes at 323%! This means boiled potatoes are 223% more satisfying than white bread. Where as croissants ranked only 47% this means you’d have to eat twice as many calories worth of croissant to feel as satisfied as you would if you were just eating white bread.

Let’s take this information and put it in the context of a diet. If you are trying to lose weight then eating foods low on the satiety index means you won’t be satisfied with how much you can eat until AFTER you exceed your caloric limit (When trying to lose weight). The flip side of that is if you choose foods high on the satiety index you will be satisfied BEFORE you reach your caloric limit. Below is a chart of all 38 foods listed from the most satisfying to the least.

My conclusion here is not to eat only the foods on this list (they only tested 38 foods) but to include more foods like those on the most satisfying list into your diet. Try filling your plate with whole unprocessed foods that are higher in protein, fiber, and water. These foods will keep you more satisfied between meals especially when trying to lose weight on a caloric deficit.

Here are few links below to the original study and some additional information.

Original Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7498104

There are some great visuals of the satiety index here: https://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/fullness-factor

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