Some foods are naturally superior when it comes to helping you eat less because of the specific nutrients they contain, the form you eat them in, or for their satisfying taste.
When your stomach tells you it’s time for a snack, check out these seven go-to bites that help you get a hold on your hunger.
AVOCADO SLICES ON FIBER CRACKERS
This snack packs a one-two punch. First, one 2013 study in Nutrition Journal reports that overweight adults who ate half of an avocado reduced afternoon hunger by about 40 percent.
The fruit contains monounsaturated fats and fibre that fill you up, the researchers suggest. Besides, those MUFAs also exert a favourable effect on your cholesterol, lowering “bad” LDL and increasing “good” HDL levels.
If you’re not into eating your avocado with a spoon, put slices on rye crispbread crackers. Compared to wheat bread, rye crisps reduced next-meal calorie intake by 8 percent, a Swedish study found. Thank their high fibre content (3 grams for 2 crackers) for just 60 calories.
POPCORN SPRINKLED WITH PARMESAN
If you’re more of a flavoured potato chip guy, know this: research published in Nutrition Journal found that people who ate six cups of popcorn (only 100 calories) reported less hunger and were more satisfied compared to those who ate a cup of potato chips (150 calories), 1 cup of popcorn (15 calories), or a water-only control condition.
Popcorn is packed with whole grains—in fact, eating a bag will get you more than halfway toward your daily quota for the stuff—plus you can eat a LOT of it for few calories.
That said, there is a lot of junky trans-fat-laden popcorn on shelves. Pop it yourself or buy plain unsalted air-popped microwave popcorn. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top as your flavouring instead of butter or salt. The cheese is a source of umami—the “fifth” taste we call savory—which new research suggests is another satiety booster.
A simple snack is sometimes the best snack. When pitted against applesauce and apple juice, eating a whole apple was best for controlling post-lunch hunger, according to Pennsylvania State University research.
The researchers note that apples are a good source of fibre, solid food is more filling than liquids, and the whole fruit requires chewing, another important factor to making you full.
GREEK YOGURT WITH FLAXSEED
You know that Greek yogurt is known for its stomach-satisfying properties because it’s rich in protein that tames hunger, but it’s also a great source of calcium.
One study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published put one group of people on a high-dairy diet (they got about 1,400 mg of calcium a day) and another on a low-dairy one (who got about 700 mg of calcium a day).
Both groups lost similar amounts of weight, but the high-dairy group reported feeling more satisfied while dieting. The dairy-filled plan may have helped increase levels of gut hormones like peptide YY that dial down appetite.
Stir in one to two tablespoons of ground flaxseed while you’re at it. A good source of ALA omega-3, it can also influence appetite hormones like ghrelin that tell you to stop eating, one 2013 Danish study suggests.
WHEY PROTEIN SHAKE
If you’re heading to the gym in an hour or two, grab a whey protein shake. It’s superior to casein protein in terms of keeping hunger at bay.
In a 2014 Australian study, overweight and obese adults supplemented with either whey, casein, or a glucose control drink. After six and 12 weeks, the whey group benefitted from a lower appetite before meals.
People who added less than a half-cup of chickpeas to their diet for three months felt more satiated, and the legumes helped reduce intake of processed snack foods like cereals versus when they ate their regular diet, one study in the journal Appetite found.
Try roasting chickpeas in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
You can buy spiced flavours or shake red pepper on before popping in the oven—the kick-in-the-mouth spice will help you stop eating sooner, suggests Purdue University research.
DARK CHOCOLATE COVERED PEANUTS
This is for the times when all you want is a candy bar. A small study in Nutrition and Diabetes revealed that when men ate 3.5 ounces of 70 percent dark chocolate they were less hungry for sweet, fatty, or savoury foods and ate 17 percent fewer calories two hours later than the guys who ate milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has bigger flavour and is digested slower, say researchers.
Admittedly, that’s a lot of chocolate—and a lot of calories. That’s why combining cocoa with nuts is smart.
Research in 2013 found that peanuts in particular helped lower appetite for 8 to 12 hours because of their ideal ratio of protein and fat. Stick with an ounce-and-a-half serving of the snack, which is about 200 calories.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health