I worked as a junior engineer in a shaft mining operation once (no joke).
One of the superintendents never seemed to eat (I say ‘one of’ because the company went through a bunch of supers on account of them being crazy motherf###ers).
I asked him about it once, and he told me with no small amount of pride that he got by on coffee and cigarettes. I just nodded thoughtfully and went back to work.
The thing is, both cigarettes and coffee have appetite suppressing effects. So do booze and drugs (maybe not weed) if you start developing a taste for those things.
It’s why winos and junkies tend to look like Ghandi after a bout of dysentery. That and the fact that they spend all their money on product.
Point being, when you’re trying to lose a few pounds in body weight there’s many ways to do it, and many paths to go down, including the extreme ends of the spectrum, one of which leads to self-destruction.
Obviously, if you’re reading this, I don’t think you’re pounding cigarettes and coffee in order to cut down on your calorie intake.
…but all too often, people try to hit the calorie deficit to hard, too fast. If you do that, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Appetite Suppression and Food That Fill You Up
A much better approach is to adopt a rhythm of sustainable, consistent behaviour with respect to your food choices and diet as a whole.
That way, you can gradually and comfortably reach your body goals without punishing yourself. Also, when you reach that main goal, you can apply small adjustments to your approach to sit back into a maintenance protocol and keep the physique you have achieved.
When people crash diet or rush into elimination-style diets, they tend to be unsuccessful. And the ones that do drop weight often pile it back on when they have either reached their goal weight or finished the diet.
That yo-yo pattern can actually do more harm than good because it’s been shown to reduce the body’s ability to lose the weight again each time it is regained.
In truth, there should be no “end” to a diet because the behaviour shouldn’t be that dramatic in the first place. By definition it ought to be sustainable and adherence to it should be indefinite.
What is Appetite Suppression?
Appetite Suppression is often seen as a negative thing. Many people wonder how they can squash their cravings, rather than ask of themselves: How can I satisfy my needs to a degree where my appetite level is not distracting for an extended period of time.
I discussed in a previous article that genuine hunger is a sensation based on nutritional need, while appetite can just be the desire to eat food, and might be triggered by all sorts of things, including the sight or taste of food itself.
When we’re trying to live with a calorie deficit for a while, in order to lose weight, by far the most successful way of doing it is to reduce our appetite through the very food we eat.
A filling meal which does not break the calorie allotment is going to be much more conducive to long-term success than, say, skipping the meal entirely.
People find success all sorts of ways, and the intermittent fasters amongst you might be chomping at the bit to explain how useful it is as a strategy.
I agree, by the way. Intermittent Fasting is a useful method, but it’s only because it causes that calorie deficit, which is the reason we lose weight.
Many people don’t enjoy IF because they get uncomfortably hungry in the the fasting window. Also, if you’re an active person it might not fit your agenda to go long periods of time without food.
Making strategic food choices is one of the best methods of suppressing our appetite or satisfying our hunger.
So what are some of the best foods we can eat to keep our appetite in check and our body goals on track?
Appetite Suppressing Foods
Here are some everyday foods that’ll help you stay full for longer.
They are simple too. I absolutely hate websites that list their “50 Healthy Breakfast Alternatives” that only require 18 hours of preparation the day before, and a round-the-world flight in order to locate speciality stores from which you might find half the ingredients…for the small price of your weight in gold!
Oatmeal / Porridge Oats
Oatmeal is excellent for breakfast or a filling snack throughout the day. About 1/3 to 1/2 cup dry oats will give you around a cup of cooked oat to use as your base. Calories of this can vary for different types of oats but won’t get much more than 150 calories.
Of course when you add other stuff the calories will rise, but it’s okay because this is meant to be filling remember. If it can get you through to lunch then you can dump a third of your daily total calories into a decent breakfast like this.
You can make oatmeal to taste as well, whether that be salty or sweet, and you can tailor the calories that go along with it by adding as much or as little extra stuff as you want.
Here are some tips to make your oatmeal experience a tasty one, no matter how basic it is:
- add a pinch of salt before you start cooking it whether you are going for sweet or savoury oats. This will bring the flavour of the oats out. Don’t add the salt at the end because it won’t have the same effect.
- use milk or a combo of milk and water to cook the oats in. Plain water makes them taste thin and boring. Milk gives it a thicker, creamier taste and will add some additional protein to the mix which makes it (a) more filling, and (b) more muscle friendly.
- add a cinnamon stick when you first serve the oatmeal into a bowl. If you like the taste of cinnamon of course. This will flavour it and add a decent kick to the thermogenic effect of the meal.
PRO TIP: I sometimes mix whey protein with some milk into a thick liquid and add that half way through the cooking time. If you use flavoured protein it can make a whole load of difference to the taste factor, and it’s another bulletproof muscle building addition.
Eggs – Omelette or Scrambled
Eggs are cracking (heh, heh, he…whatever!)
When you fry them on the grill, however, they aren’t going to fill you as much as they can. Making them big and fluffy is better for this as they will take up more space in your gut and slowly release their protein and other nutrients over the next few hours.
Also, when you make them in omelette or scrambled form you can go to town on the additional ingredients. Go nuts on the vegetables, especially the leafy stuff like spinach because the leaves will reduce in size and be bound up within the egg mixture.
Onions, spring onions, garlic, peppers and all manner of herbs and spices can be added to boost flavour and nutritional density. Also anything spicy will add a thermogenic kick to the equation – cayenne and capsaicin being the kings in that department.
If you’ve got calorie room left over then slice up some avocado and eat that along with it. It’s a perfect start, middle or end to the day in my opinion.
If you’re anti-bread then you’re not going to like me much here, because when it’s part of a good piece of french toast, it can help form a nice ball of stodge in your stomach to keep you going for a few hours.
For me, toast with something spread on the top doesn’t do much to satiate my hunger, but when the toast is drenched in beaten egg and cooked on the pan, it’s a whole different ball game.
You can add all manner of things to your french toast plate as well. Things that can bolster your protein and fat intake to give you a real appetite smasher.
Again, sliced up avocado can be your friend here. You can even have a small bowl of oatmeal on the side and you can cook it while you’re making the french toast. The preparation is minimal for what you get out of it in the form of a filling breakfast.
Stick some berries, a banana, apple slices, whatever on the side if you fancy a sweeter edge. If you want savoury, make a little english breakfast with a couple slices of bacon and some mushrooms (I’m not the food police, this is about total calories in and out, remember?!).
I’m from England originally, so I have some kind of involuntary congenital response to the sight of them: I start salivating.
Baked beans make you fart, at least that’s what we learn growing up in the UK. Aside from that, they are sort of taken for granted. It’s only when I moved to a country that didn’t have an aisle in the supermarket dedicated to the things that I became more aware of my subtle addiction.
Baked beans might trigger a fart response (or eight) but they are amazing little capsules of energy and they fill you up.
They are high in fiber, iron and even protein. And if you eat them with your spinach and french toast, you’re basically going to turn into Superman/Wonder Woman.
That, and clear out the office with a weapons-grade bottom burp.
Peanut Butter and Banana
This combo has often saved my life on many occasions. It isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done when you’re running around the house tying to get everybody ready and out the door so you don’t get fired.
It’s what it sounds like. Sometimes I mash it all up into one kind of baby-food looking lump. Sometimes I get fancy and cut the banana into slices and spread the PB on.
This is also a great add-on to other, larger breakfasts or snacks – a bit like bolting a turbo on to your engine.
It’s not random either. Peanut butter – any nut butter – is a good source of protein, and is pretty high in fat which keeps your belly from growling ten minutes later.
Bananas release their energy/sugars slowly and don’t spike your blood counts so you won’t get any crash with it. They’re also fairly bulky and should keep you going for a while, especially compared with thin air, which is alternative when you’re in rush mode.
Sweet Potato Bean Chilli
Bake the sweet potato in foil if you have time, or microwave the bejesus out of it if you haven’t. Either way is fine.
Stuff it with mixed beans – spiced to taste – and add a dollop of sour cream.
If your colleagues were offended by the baked beans incident then you’re going to be the office pariah after this one.
If you really want to fill up and you’ve got calories in the bank then add some cheese to help bind it all together and fill you up even more.
This meal is perfect for lunch if you go to the gym after work because it contains a lot of energy and won’t be sitting on you by the time your hit the weights/cardio.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t have at least one post-millennial hipster food on my list. Quinoa puts most other grain-type foods to shame.
If you want to be fancy, you can call quinoa a pseudo-cereal. You have to have a man-bun and wear thigh-hugging peach coloured shorts if you do though.
A hundred grams of uncooked quinoa contains about 14 grams of protein. It’s also high in fiber, and contains solid amounts of iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, zinc B vitamins.
Also a cup of cooked quinoa, which weighs about 185 grams contains about 230 calories (and about 9 grams protein). Not bad for such a nutrient laden food.
You absolutely have to add some stuff to it though, otherwise your tastebuds will start seeing other people.
The beauty of quinoa is that it provides an alternative base for sweet or savoury meals, a bit like oatmeal does.
You can eat it warm, with a couple squares of dark chocolate melted into it, with berries and few nuts added (okay I’m going to make that right now).
Or you can have it cold with a bunch of vegetables and olives and stuff chopped up into it. So you basically have a versatile macro that you can have at any time of the day.
Oh yeah, it’s also got loads of antioxidants, protects you from cancer, and all that good stuff.
Lentils, Chickpeas and Legumes in General
If you don’t get much of this food group in your diet, now is the time to change that. You need legumes in your life.
Lentils are quick and easy to prepare, and they take on the flavour of whatever herbs and spices you cook them with really well.
I use lentils as a meat substitute a lot of the time when I don’t fancy minced beef in a chili or spaghetti bolognese.
Fiber, protein, iron, folate, and a bunch of other micronutrients are present in good dosages in lentils. The quantities vary between different legumes but there are loads of excellent choices.
They are filling, low in calorie density and meet some great nutritional requirements. Get them in.
So, there’s some easy, simple to prepare, everyday foods that won’t break the bank money-wise or calorie-wise.
When people try to shift body fat, they often don’t eat enough at the beginning and end up “burning out” because they are too hungry and really aren’t fulfilling their nutritional needs, let alone their appetite.
This usually results in failure before the weight loss goal is met. The aggressive calorie deficit also makes the body that much less inclined to lose the weight the next time round.
Eating foods which are filling and yet staying in calorie deficit is by far the best way to lose fat consistently and meet your targets and goals.
It also sets you up for the future when you have reached your goal and want to maintain it.
Viewing a diet as though it is a short term period is a sure fire way of ensuring you will let loose once you have met your goal.
Think of this as your new, mindful approach to eating and making food choices and you won’t go wrong.