Put protein first
Protein is “thermogenic”, which means it requires the body to expend more energy digesting it than it would with other, more processed foods. That makes you less likely to feel hungry after a protein-based meal. But eating it before the other food on your plate might also help keep you full too.
“Protein is a key factor in keeping us feeling fuller for longer, as well as being vital for energy, hormone regulation, and the repair of tissues,” says Dr Claudia Ashton, a London GP, nutritionist and head of clinical services at the Roczen weight and diabetes management app.
“Ideally, protein should be consumed at every meal. Research has also shown that the order in which you eat the different foods on your plate can be significant. For example, having protein and vegetables before carbohydrates in a meal can lead to lower post-meal blood glucose and insulin levels,” she explains.
“Our bodies are not designed to constantly graze,” says Prof Spector. “It can mean that we never give our gut microbes and digestion a well-earned rest, and it can also be more difficult to monitor how much you’re eating in a day.”
Plus, the constant intake of food leads to repeated blood sugar spikes, which can make you hungrier and also lead to insulin resistance, where your body becomes less adept at using insulin to process glucose and lead over time to Type-2 diabetes, Dr Ashton says.
“It could take 3-4 hours to digest a balanced meal of, for example, oily fish with wholegrain rice and avocado, which contains good fats, protein and fibre,” says Rob Hobson. People differ of course, but expect to be hungry about three hours after eating a balanced meal, he advises.
Choose your fruit wisely
It’s easy to think of fruit as a virtuous option, but it is not always the perfect snack food.
“Not all fruit is created equal when it comes to snacking,” says Dr Ashton. “In fact, some fruit has a relatively high amount of carbohydrates, which are broken down by the body into sugar.
“Fruits like satsumas have more fast acting sugars, which can spike blood sugar levels, leaving us feeling hungrier when they come back down.