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The Satiety Index: Eat more and sacrifice less

Woman holding an apple and a donut

When it comes to losing weight, the process isn't rocket science: Ensure you're in a daily calorie deficit of 200–300 for consistent and sustainable weight loss.

However, that process is influenced and made more difficult by numerous psychological (hormones), environmental (availability and accessibility), and physiological (stress or depression) factors. Perhaps one of the toughest physiological factors of losing weight is controlling your hunger. Simply put, sticking to a healthy diet most of the time can be hard if you're always hungry.

And that's where the Satiety Index comes in.

What is the Satiety Index?

The Satiety Index is a way of measuring how satisfying different foods are. It's based on research at the University of Sydney, Australia, which discovered which foods help keep you fuller for longer. Researchers did this by having people rate how full they were after each a range of different foods. Those foods were then given a Satiety Index score, which ranks foods from 0 (least satisfying) to 100 (most satisfying).

While that's the general gist of the Satiety Index, it also takes into account a host of different factors that impact how full you feel, such as how quickly your body digests the food and how nutrient-dense it is. More nutrient-dense foods contain a higher amount of essential nutrients per calorie and will stave off hunger for a long, reducing the likelihood you'll resort to unhealthy snacks.

Picking healthier and more satisfying foods

Perhaps one of the most useful benefits of the Satiety Index is that it enables you to find healthier alternatives to lose or maintain a healthier weight.

Rather than switching to an overly strict diet, such as a fad diet or extreme calorie deficit, you can make small, gradual changes to your diet that are easier to stick to in the long term. It's always easier to make healthier choices when you don't feel like you're missing out on the foods you most enjoy.

For example, even if you're in a calorie deficit, you might habitually reach for a bowl of sugary cereal for breakfast. While that may taste good now, it won't satisfy you for very long. However, by learning which foods are more satisfying than others, you may choose to switch that sugary cereal for a bowl of oatmeal with healthy toppings. Oatmeal has a high Satiety Index score and is more likely to keep your hunger at bay.

And what if you love eating burgers and fries? Well, you don't need to cut that out entirely either.

Beef steak (sirloin) has a relatively high Satiety Index score, so you can continue to eat that and simply change the way you cook it (grilling it is better than pan-frying it, as it requires no added fat and allows some of the fat in the steak to dip away). Alternatively, you can try swapping out the beef patty for lean white meat, like grilled chicken breast.

Potatoes also have a relatively high Satiety Index score, however, fries are high in calories, fat, and sodium. So, you can try swapping out the fries for a healthier alternative like baked potato wedges, which are not cooked in oil and, therefore, have significantly lower calories and fat.

Over time, these small changes will add up to significant improvements in both your weight and overall health while still providing a similar taste experience and not compromising your enjoyment of food.

One tool among many

The Satiety Index is just one of many tools that can help you lose weight and eat healthier. As I eluded to above, it's important to pay attention to a variety of factors if you want to lose weight, including how you cook food and portion size.

By understanding which foods are more satisfying, you can eat more food with fewer calories without feeling that creeping sensation of hunger between meals. I've said it once, but I'll say it again, the golden rule of weight loss is to stay in a calorie deficit.

So, why not research some high-satiety foods for your meals and snacks? There's a good chance it'll help you naturally eat less without feeling like you're sacrificing more.

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