I received a question earlier this week asking how to satisfied hunger while cutting calories. I thought I would address the major contributors to hunger and follow up with suggestions to slow its return. I want to stress that being hungry is good because it signifies that our metabolism (energy burning system) is working. This post focuses on the role carbohydrates play in satiety.
It is a good idea to focus on carbohydrates (carbs) that are released into the bloodstream slowly. These are called complex carbs.
The DL on Carbohydrates. Carbs are the bodies quickest source of energy. The stomach breaks down complex carbs into glucose, the simplest carb. Glucose is then released into the bloodstream and transported throughout the body. More complex carbs take longer for the stomach to break down because they have to be converted or broken down into glucose. These complex carbs are introduced to the bloodstream in slower increments. This is the reason we feel immediate energy when we consume foods that are processed (highly broken down carbs) like ice cream, white bread, and candy.
Solution: Eat Slow Carbs. This is where common sense comes into play. Generally, the less processed a food, the longer it takes the stomach to break that food down. Try making the switch from white to whole grain bread. A grain of wheat is made up of a germ, an endosperm, and the bran. White bread only contains the endosperm and is lacking in fiber and other nutrients derived from the germ and bran. Below is a list of slow digesting carbohydrates:
Green Vegetables, Brown Bread (the best is whole grain), Oatmeal, Bran Cereal, All Beans and Legumes
Solution: Fill up with Fiber. Fiber does not digest but is very useful to the diet. Eating a slow carb diet and high fiber diet go hand and hand because fiber slows digestion. The average woman should eat around 25 grams of fiber/ day. The average man should consume 38 grams / day. (http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2002/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-for-Energy-Carbohydrate-Fiber-Fat-Fatty-Acids-Cholesterol-Protein-and-Amino-Acids.aspx)
Fiber is contained in the skins of fruits and vegetables. Don’t peel your organic potatoes! Other high fiber foods are bran, vegetables, legumes, and fruits (apples and pears contain a lot of fiber.)
Solution: Portion sizes. When food is digested in large quantities and quickly it leaves the body with an energy overload–too many calories in the system. This causes the body to store the remaining energy as fat. Note that carbs are not the enemy, they are simply the poison of choice for many individuals when food is consumed in excess. Fat and protein are also stored as fat when eaten in quantities too large for the body to burn at one point in time. Consuming carbohydrates in smaller amounts can help stabilize blood sugar levels and combat fat storage.
One portion size of grains is about the size of your clenched fist. Remember, most every food contains carbs with the exception of meat.
Hope this helps,