What you eat can determine how full you feel, as foods affect sensations of fullness differently.
For example, you need fewer calories to feel full from boiled potatoes or oatmeal than from ice cream or a croissant.
Foods that are filling can ward off hunger and help you eat less at the next meal.
For this reason, these types of foods should help you manage your weight in the long run.
This article lists 15 incredibly filling foods.
But first, let’s look at the reasons why some foods are more filling than others.
What makes a food filling?
Satiety is a term used to explain the feeling of fullness and loss of appetite that happens after eating.
A scale called the satiety index measures this effect. It was developed in a 1995 study that tested 240-calorie servings of 38 foods.
The foods were ranked according to their ability to satisfy hunger. Foods that scored higher than 100 were considered more filling, while foods that scored under 100 were considered less filling.
In short, eating foods that score higher on the satiety index can help you eat fewer calories overall. However, keep in mind that just because something keeps you fuller for longer doesn’t mean it’s more nutrient-dense.
Filling foods tend to have the following characteristics:
- High in protein. Studies show that protein is the most filling macronutrient. It changes the levels of several satiety hormones, including ghrelin and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1).
- High in fiber. Fiber provides bulk and helps you feel full for longer. It may slow stomach emptying and increase digestion time.
- High in volume. Some foods contain a lot of water or air, which may help promote satiety.
- Low in energy density. This means that a food is low in calories for its weight. Foods with a low energy density are very filling. They typically contain a lot of water and fiber but are low in fat.
Whole, unprocessed foods are also generally more filling than processed foods and offer added health benefits.
Summary: Filling foods may have certain characteristics, such as being high in protein or fiber. These types of foods tend to score high on a scale called the satiety index.
1. Boiled potatoes
Potatoes have been demonized in the past, but they’re actually very healthy and nutritious.
Cooked, unpeeled potatoes are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium.
Potatoes are high in water and carbs and contain moderate amounts of fiber and protein. They also contain almost no fat.
Compared with other high-carb foods, potatoes are very filling.
Boiled potatoes scored a 323 on the satiety index, which is the highest number of all 38 foods tested. They scored nearly 7 times higher than croissants, which scored the lowest.
One study in 14 people found that those who consumed a meal with meat, vegetables, and potatoes felt less hungry and more satisfied than those who ate the same meal with rice or pasta instead.
Some evidence indicates that part of the reason why potatoes are so filling is that they contain a protein called proteinase inhibitor 2 (PI2), which may suppress appetite.
Summary: Boiled potatoes are very filling and scored the highest of all the foods on the satiety index. They can fill you up and help you eat fewer calories in total.
Eggs are incredibly healthy and nutrient-dense.
Most of the nutrients are found in the yolks, including the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may benefit eye health.
Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein. A large egg contains around 6 grams of protein, including all nine essential amino acids.
Eggs are also very filling and score high on the satiety index.
Suggested read: Why eggs might be the ultimate weight management food
One study found that people who consumed eggs and toast for breakfast experienced less hunger and ate fewer calories during their next meal than those who ate cereal with milk and juice.
Another older study found that a protein-rich breakfast consisting of eggs and lean beef increased fullness and helped people make better food choices.
Summary: Eggs are a nutritious, high-protein food with a powerful impact on fullness. They may also help you eat less later in the day.
Oats, eaten as oatmeal (porridge), are a popular breakfast choice. Oatmeal is fairly low in calories and a great source of fiber, particularly a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. It also scores high on the satiety index, ranking third overall.
One recent study found that participants felt more full and less hungry after eating oatmeal compared with ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. They also ate fewer calories during lunch.
Oatmeal’s filling power comes from its high fiber content and ability to soak up water.
Soluble fiber, such as the beta-glucan in oats, can help you feel full. It may also help release satiety hormones and delay stomach emptying.
Summary: Oatmeal is a very filling breakfast choice. It may help you eat fewer calories in the following meal and delay stomach emptying.
Fish is loaded with high-quality protein.
It’s also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats that must be obtained from food.
According to one 2008 study, omega-3 fatty acids could increase the feeling of fullness in people with overweight or obesity.
Additionally, some studies indicate that the protein in fish may have a stronger effect on fullness than other sources of protein.
On the satiety index, fish scores higher than all other protein-rich foods, including eggs and beef. Fish had the second-highest score of all the foods tested.
Suggested read: The 12 best foods to eat in the morning
Another older study compared to fish, chicken, and beef protein. The researchers found that fish protein had the strongest effect on satiety.
Summary: Fish is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which may increase feelings of fullness. The protein in fish may have a stronger effect on fullness than other types of protein.
Liquids are often considered to be less filling than solid foods, although the evidence is mixed.
However, soups are a bit different. Research shows that soups may be more filling than solid meals containing the same ingredients.
In one older study, volunteers consumed either a solid meal, chunky soup, or smooth soup that had been put through a food processor. Feelings of fullness and the rate at which the food left the stomach were then measured.
Interestingly, the smooth soup had the greatest impact on fullness and the slowest rate of stomach emptying, followed by the chunky soup.
Summary: Soups are very filling meals, despite being in liquid form. They may also stay in the stomach longer, thus prolonging feelings of fullness.
High protein foods like lean meats are very filling.
For example, beef can have a powerful effect on satiety. It scores 176 on the satiety index, which is the second-highest of the protein-rich foods, right after fish.
Increasing your intake of protein-rich foods like meat can be an easy way to help regulate your appetite.
One study found that eating a high protein meal had a significantly greater impact on hormones related to hunger and appetite than a high-carb meal.
Summary: Meat is high in protein and very filling. Beef scored the second-highest among the protein-rich foods on the satiety index.
7. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is very thick compared with regular yogurt and typically higher in protein, too.
Greek yogurt is a great breakfast option. It’s also a popular afternoon snack that can help fill you up until your next meal.
Suggested read: 14 easy ways to increase your protein intake
In one 2013 study, women consumed a 160-calorie yogurt snack that was either low, moderate, or high in protein. Those who ate the high protein Greek yogurt felt full the longest, were less hungry and ate dinner later.
Summary: Greek yogurt is a popular, high-protein breakfast and snack. It may increase the feeling of fullness and help you feel less hungry until your next meal.
Vegetables are incredibly nutritious. They’re loaded with all sorts of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds.
Vegetables are also high volume, low calorie foods. They contain fiber and water, which add bulk to your meals and help fill you up.
Moreover, vegetables take some time to chew and are very satisfying in that way.
One study found that eating a salad before a meal of pasta reduced overall calorie intake compared with eating pasta alone.
Summary: Vegetables are rich in fiber and water, which may keep you full for longer. Eating a salad before a meal can help you eat fewer calories overall.
9. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is usually low in fat and carbs, yet high in protein.
Its high protein content can help you feel full, even while consuming relatively few calories.
One study found that cottage cheese’s filling effect was similar to that of eggs.
Summary: Cottage cheese is high in protein yet low in fat and calories. Its effect on fullness may be comparable to that of eggs.
Legumes like beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts have an impressive nutritional profile.
They’re loaded with fiber and plant-based protein, yet they have a relatively low energy density. This makes them very filling.
One article reviewed nine randomized trials that studied post-meal fullness from pulses, which are a part of the legume family.
They found that participants felt 31% more full from eating pulses compared with eating meals consisting of pasta and bread.
Summary: Legumes are a good source of fiber and protein. They may help you feel full compared with other foods.
Fruit has a low energy density. It also contains lots of fiber, which may slow digestion and help you feel full for longer.
Apples and oranges score very high on the satiety index at around 200.
However, it’s important to note that it’s always better to eat whole fruit instead of fruit juice, which is not particularly filling.
Summary: Fruit is high in fiber and provides bulk that may help you feel full for longer. Whole fruit has a stronger effect on fullness than fruit juice.
Quinoa is a popular grain crop that’s grown for its seeds, and it’s a good source of protein.
It provides all the essential amino acids and is therefore considered a complete protein source.
Quinoa is also higher in fiber than most grains.
The protein and fiber content of quinoa may increase feelings of fullness and help you eat fewer calories overall.
Summary: Quinoa is a good source of both protein and fiber, which may help increase feelings of fullness.
Nuts like almonds and walnuts are energy-dense, nutrient-rich snack options.
They’re high in healthy fats and protein, and studies show that they’re very filling.
Other research has highlighted the importance of chewing nuts properly.
One older study found that chewing almonds 40 times led to a greater reduction in hunger and increased feelings of fullness compared with chewing 10 or 25 times.
Another review of 13 trials concluded that chewing foods more thoroughly could reduce self-reported hunger and food intake by altering levels of certain hormones that regulate appetite.
Summary: Nuts are a popular snack choice. They’re rich in healthy fats and also contain some protein. They’re likewise very filling and may reduce hunger.
14. MCT Oil
Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a type of saturated fat often used as a supplement.
Suggested read: Does oatmeal lead to weight gain? Toppings and more
MCT oil consists of medium-length chains of fatty acids, which enter the liver from the digestive tract and can be turned into ketone bodies.
According to some studies, ketone bodies can have an appetite-reducing effect.
One study found that people who ate breakfasts supplemented with MCT oil in liquid form consumed significantly fewer calories throughout the day compared with a control group.
Another study compared the effects of medium- and long-chain triglycerides and found that those who ate medium-chain triglycerides with breakfast consumed fewer calories at lunch.
Summary: MCT oil can be converted into ketone bodies and may significantly reduce appetite and calorie intake.
Popcorn is a whole grain food that’s very high in fiber, with over 1 gram of fiber in every cup (8 grams).
Studies have found that popcorn is more filling than other popular snacks, such as potato chips.
Several factors may contribute to its filling effects, including its high fiber content and low energy density.
However, note that the popcorn you prepare yourself in a pot or air-popper machine is the healthiest option. Adding a lot of fat to the popcorn can increase the calorie content significantly.
Summary: Popcorn is a popular snack that’s high in fiber and volume but low in energy density. Calorie for calorie, it’s very filling.
Filling foods possess certain qualities, such as the tendency to be high in fiber or protein and have a low energy density.
Additionally, these foods tend to be whole, single-ingredient foods — not highly processed foods.
Focusing on whole foods that fill you up with fewer calories may help you lose weight in the long run.