Its 9 p.m. and you know just where that bag of peanut M&Ms isits stashed in the pantry behind the ultravirtuous oatmeal and seriously fortified cereal. Out of sight, but not out of mind. How can you be hungry, you wonder, when you ate a mere hour-and-a-half ago? The answer isnt so simple. Everything from stress to hormones to people, places, and situations can kick your appetite into overdrive. The good news: Whatever the cause, you can beat your hunger pangs. Here, the latest stay-full strategies from the experts.
Whip up a side of potato salad
Surprise! White potatoes arent the dietary demons Atkins devotees led us to believe. Potatoes contain a type of starch known as natural resistant starch that acts a lot like fiber once its in your digestive system, according to Katherine Beals, PhD, RD, a nutrition professor at the University of Utah. That means they make you feel full longer, keep your blood sugar level after a meal, and may even reduce body fat.
But theres a trick to maximizing this benefit: Chilling cooked potatoes nearly doubles the amount of natural resistant starch in a serving. Try an Italian-style potato salad. Boil peeled, sliced potatoes until theyre fork-tender; drain, and toss them with salt, pepper, and your favorite red wine vinaigrette. Cool the salad in the fridge and garnish it with chopped parsley before you dig in. Not a spud fan? Try black beans (or any other bean) or split peas, warm or cold, for the same benefit.
Front-load your days calories
We all know that breakfast helps keep your waistline trim, but heres more solid proof: In a recent study, University of Texas at El Paso researchers found that people who ate breakfast took in 5% fewer calories over the course of the day. Thats only about 100 calories (if you typically eat the 2,000 calories per day recommended for adult women), but, over time, it adds up. Saving 100 calories a day for one year equals a loss of more than 10 pounds. Experts estimate most of us eat 20% of our daily calories at breakfast, 30 percent at lunch, and 50 percent at dinner. “You would probably be better off shifting more of your total daily calories to the morning,” says lead author John de Castro, PhD. If you cant stomach a bigger breakfast (keep it healthy with a combo of low-fat protein, whole grains, and fruit or veggies), add a midmorning snack (a container of yogurt, some fruit with a few whole-grain crackers, or half a sandwich).
Pull out the blender
Froth beats fat. This is one of the best and least-known discoveries of professor Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. Rolls found that study subjects who drank smoothies and other drinks blended for at least twice as long as necessary ate 12% lessand felt fullerthan those who drank beverages blended for a shorter period. Why? Blending is a no-calorie way to increase serving size by adding air. Adding low- or no-cal ingredients to entrees (such as lettuce and tomato on top of turkey burgers or alongside broiled fish) has a similar effect: They work by increasing the amount of water instead of air.