If you’re planning to cut calories to improve your overall health and wellness, you might be worried about feeling hungry in the process. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to keep your body feeling nourished, satisfied and energized while still maintaining a low-calorie diet.
Eat Plenty of Protein
Protein is an important factor in helping you feel full with fewer calories because high-protein foods take longer to digest and the body has to use more energy to break them down. Some high-protein foods to include in a healthy diet are chicken breast, lean beef, lentils, black beans and chickpeas. Yogurt is also low in calories and high in protein -- just watch for added sugars.
To feel full and energized all day long, you’ll want to incorporate protein into your balanced diet, not just at one meal each day. You may be surprised how easy it can be to add some protein into your daily meals. For example, if you usually have coffee and toast for breakfast, simply add an egg to boost the protein count and help keep the urge to snack at bay. For snacks, substitute low-nutrient items like potato chips for high-protein alternatives, like veggie sticks with hummus or peanut butter and pretzels. If you’re allergic to peanuts, use almond butter instead.
Here’s a high-protein breakfast casserole recipe that we love! The eggs will help you feel full, while the vegetables provide vital nutrients:
Opt for Whole Grains
Many assume that restricting your carbohydrate intake entirely is the only option, but making the switch from refined sources, like white bread, to unrefined ones, like whole grains, can make a huge difference. The refining process strips out many of the nutrients from grains, but eating them whole allows you to get all the nutritional benefits, including fiber. Fiber takes up space in your stomach without adding calories and can be an important weapon in the battle against hunger when you’re sticking to low-calorie meals.
It’s The Little Things
It may seem like common sense, but eating a balanced diet on a regular basis will help you avoid hunger pangs. Rather than limiting your meals throughout the day to keep calories low and then consuming a large dinner, split your calories into three nutrient-dense meals and snacks between each meal. Be sure to choose snacks with a protein component and avoid reaching for sugary options.
Staying hydrated is also important, as it’s very common to mistake thirst for hunger. In fact, if you’re thirsty, your body is already in the early stages of dehydration. Drink water regularly to stay hydrated, energized and to avoid consuming unnecessary calories because of thirst.
With these tips in mind, remember that if you have a day when you consume more calories than you planned to, don’t beat yourself up about it. Get back to your healthy diet plan the next day and keep in mind that it takes time to make a substantial change to your lifestyle. These subtle changes will add up over time and make significant differences in your overall health and wellness.
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