Let's face it, hunger can wreak havoc on your diet. Hunger pangs are what cause you to end up in the ice cream isle at your grocery store trying to figure out if you're in the mood for Ben & Jerry's Triple Caramel Chunk or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. After all, it's made from milk so ice cream does have some protein in it...right?
What is Satiety?
There are two types of satiety - physiological satiety and psychological satiety. Physiological satiety has to do with feelings of hunger and fullness. Is your body telling you it is time to eat? What, when and how much you eat affects your physiological level of satiety.
When your stomach and intestine are full, the hormones cholecystokinin (CCK), glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and peptide YY (PYY) are released - all of which are involved in a feedback loop letting our brain know the stomach is satisfied. As adults, we've been taught to override these signals and pay more attention to our psychological hunger or other cues such as being told to "clean your plate" when you were a kid.
Psychological satiety on the other hand, has to do with the desire to eat. Whether you are walking through the airport and the smell of freshly baked Cinnabons fills the air or your watch hits 12pm signaling lunchtime, many factors like these affect psychological satiety. For instance, the sight and smell of food, time of day, food variety (greater variety means we need to try a bit of everything right?), and social events all affect our feeling of psychological satiety.
How Nutrition Bars Can Boost Satiety
Nutrition Bars are Convenient
The best thing about nutrition bars is that they are convenient. When you have the option of sitting through your hunger until you get home (which will make you ravenous and reaching for anything and everything edible in your house) or eating a bar to tide you over, choosing a bar may help decrease your calorie intake at your next meal.
A Little Fat Can Go A Long Way
Several studies suggest that various types of fat can increase satiety and decrease hunger at your next meal. So, don't shy away from incorporating fat into your diet. A bar with some fat in it may tide you over for a longer period of time than one without any fat.
Go Nuts for Bars With Nuts
Nuts add serious nutrition value to any bar because they are rich in several nutrients. And, they have a minimal impact on blood sugar, contain heart healthy monounsaturated fat and may enhance satiety. Studies that incorporate nuts into a person's diet suggest that people gain less weight than predicted based on the calorie content of the nuts. What's going on here? Scientists think that nuts satiate the appetite so the people ate less later and
Many Bars Are A Good Source Of Fiber
On average, American's get half of the fiber they need everyday. Yet, fiber plays an important role in satiety by providing bulk in the food you are eating; slowing the movement of food through the stomach and into the small intestine and fiber may also affect the production of satiety-inducing hormones.
Certain types of fiber may boost satiety more than others, but the most important thing to look for is total fiber grams - aim for more if you are using the nutrition bar as a between meal snack.
Many Nutrition Bars Contain Quality Protein
Studies suggest that protein promotes satiety to a greater extent than fat or carbohydrate. In fact, different studies have examined certain kinds of protein such as egg, whey and soy and satiety. All of these types of protein have unique roles in boosting satiety and dose and timing may be very important as well. One study in particular suggests that eating a hefty dose of protein at breakfast (0.6 grams/kg body weight) led to greater satiety in people on a calorie restricted diet.
Additional Tips to Boost Satiety
Get in touch with your hunger. As adults, we often over-ride our hunger cues in favor of environmental factors that affect food intake. Learn to gauge your hunger on a 1-10 scale before every meal and after meals as well. See Bodybuilding.com's Hunger Scale below.
Eat a fruit, vegetables or broth-based soup before every meal. According to research conducted at Penn State University, these volume-rich foods will fill you up so you eat less food later.
Never get hungry. If you eat every few hours, you'll feel more satisfied.
Learn techniques to cope with psychological hunger cues.
You can beat hunger. But that requires ditching traditional diets, curbing emotional and cues to eat, distinguishing between physiological hunger and psychological hunger and eating good quality protein at every main meal and snack. Protein is your satiety macronutrient. Combine it with fiber, in the form of a convenient nutrition bar, and you'll never be more than an arm's reach from a healthy snack that will prevent you from reaching for not-so-healthy foods.
Bodybuilding.com's Hunger Scale
Check out the scale below and rate yourself before every meal and at the end of your meals.
- So hungry you could eat your sweaty lifting gloves. Your energy levels are drained; you are tired and very irritable.
- At this stage you are probably very cranky and spacy. You need food and need it now.
- When you hit a 3 or below, doughnuts, fully loaded nachos, whatever is in front of you and edible starts looking enticing.
- This is the stage when you should eat. You are a little hungry but still able to decipher between a chocolate fudge sundae and chocolate whey protein shake.
- This is the happy spot where you've had enough to eat and you feel satisfied.
- When you hit a 6 you may need to unbutton your pants. At this stage you are left wondering why you ate that second helping.
- You are physiologically full but mentally drawn in by the chips and dip still sitting on the table.
- At this point you are in some pain and wondering why you ate so much knowing you'd feel like this.
- Very uncomfortably stuffed. You can't think about food for days.
- Miserably stuffed. You dream of sitting on your couch and yet wonder how your digestive system could possibly process the amount of food in your body.
Ideally, you should stay between 4 - 6 most of the day. You should never get to a 1 - starving or 10- totally stuffed.