What should I do if I want to eat until full and still lose weight?

Scientists who study the body's feeling of fullness (satiety) have shown that foods with high concentrations of calories in each portion increase our body weight and the overall amount of food we eat. The high energy density of foods such as fried onion rings or homemade chocolate chip cookies makes them taste appealing, but they don't create feelings of fullness until you've overeaten.

By contrast, foods with low energy density (vegetables and fruits, nonfat milk, cooked grains, soups, stews and lean protein) have fewer calories, but make us feel more full. They also promote weight loss.

Since most of us eat about the same weight of food every day, it makes a difference whether that food has a high or low energy density. If you combine big portions with high energy density -- such as happens in many fast-food selections -- you're cramming your daily food intake with too many calories.
Incorporate lean proteins such as fish, chicken, turkey, & eggwhites as well as greek yogurt and cottage cheese. These foods should also be eaten with some complex carbohydrates that are low-glycemic and take longer to digest, such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa. Adding some fiber to your diet in the form of fruits and vegetables will help also satiate you. Finally, having healthy fats such as olive oil, natural almond butter or peanut butter, nuts & seeds will keep you full. Eating smaller meals more frequently and ingesting a lean protein, healthy carbohydrate, and a healthy fat in each meal will help keep you satisfied and also keep your blood sugar stable. 

If you want to feel full after eating, retain that feeling between meals, and still lose weight, then you need to focus on the foods that give you the most bang for your buck. Filling your plate full of high fiber low calorie foods like fruits and vegetables, adding small portions of proteins consisting of lean meats or legumes, and garnishing your plate with foods rich in healthy fats, like nuts, olives or avocados, will allow you to eat until you're full, give you proper nutrition to maintain sustainable energy levels and will satiate your hunger until your next meal.

 Stay away from highly processed foods which are high in calories, sweeteners and fats, and low in nutritional value. While they may satisfy your initial cravings, you will use up and exceed your daily caloric intake faster and be hungry again sooner.

 Avoid snacking between meals, or reach for fruits and vegetables and a handful of nuts, which will give you an energy boost and fill you up, rather than "snack foods" like chips or crackers, cookies or cakes, which are high in calories and will leave you hungrier than you were to start. 

 Last but not least, be aware of empty calories in drinks and dressings. Alcoholic drinks, sodas and even juice, are high in calories and offer no nutritional value, so view them as treats.

Note: Always read the calories on dips and dressings remembering that vinaigrettes are lower in calories than cream based dressings, and measure out salad dressings rather than pouring from the bottle so that you can avoid accidental calories through over dressing. 

The bottom line to this question is at what point do you feel full? People feel full at different levels and experience the sensation differently. It is quite possible that if you eat a very high fiber, vegetable based diet you will feel full and lose weight. However to effectively lose weight we all need to have some awareness of the total amount of energy we are bringing into our body and the total amount of energy our body needs. I would try to eat a diet that is primarily vegetable based, with fruit being used more sparingly and small amounts of dairy and lean protein. If you can eat a diet like this, and this allows you to eat until full and still lose weight then fantastic. If however you are trying to eat based on how you feel and you are unable to lose weight then I would encourage you to take a good hard look at the amount of total calories you are taking in and start making modifications to that number.

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
You can eat until full and still lose weight. The goal is not to eat until you are stuffed but stop when full. Fiber rich foods help you feel fulland satisfied. Healthy fats like natural nut butters, seeds and nuts, olives and olive oils also help you feel full.Processed low fiber, refined foods do not fill you up and can lead to cycles of over eating.

Continue Learning about Weight Loss Strategies

5 Tricks to Fight Food Cravings
5 Tricks to Fight Food Cravings
We know weight loss isn't as simple as "eat less and exercise more." (If it were, you wouldn't be reading this, and we wouldn't have written YOU: On a...
Read More
What are the keys to hunger-free weight loss?
Weight Watchers®Weight Watchers®
There really is no such thing as hunger-free weight loss, as feeling hunger is an important physiolo...
More Answers
What are some simple rules for losing weight?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
No one pretends that achieving and maintaining an ideal weight is an easy thing to do, but the l...
More Answers
Secrets to Successfully Lose Weight
Secrets to Successfully Lose Weight

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.