There are many reasons why you may feel hungry even when eating an adequate amount of calories to maintain body weight or while eating at a calorie deficit. Hunger could be due to lack of hydration, eating too few calories for your activity level or not consuming enough protein. But today, I’m going to focus on food volume. I think it is easiest to explain using a handy dandy graphic like this one from @soheefit:
Remember: Food choice is personal preference!
There is no right or wrong way to eat, it’s all about personal preference. I typically opt to eat higher-volume food versus more calorie-dense food or liquid calories. This is because I like food. A lot. As you can see in the above graphic, you could choose to eat two or three large, calorie-dense meals to reach your calorie target or eat higher-volume meals that will help you feel fuller longer.
Here is another example: If you’re in the mood for spaghetti, you could choose between traditional spaghetti noodles, spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles, also known as “zoodles.” All of the options below contain about 215 calories:
- 2 ounces of traditional spaghetti noodles
- 33 ounces of steamed spaghetti squash
- 43 ounces of zoodles
Lower calorie, higher volume foods enable you to eat more if you’re tracking calories
Most people probably wouldn’t eat 33 ounces of spaghetti squash or 43 ounces of zoodles in one sitting. Because both of these items contain a lot of water, one serving of each of these options may be more 10 ounces, which means if you chose spaghetti squash, you would consume 65 calories and if you chose zucchini noodles, you would consume only 50 calories. So if you choose either of these options over the traditional spaghetti noodles, you get to eat MORE food at about a quarter of the calories! Don’t get me wrong, traditional pasta is delicious and if you want to eat it, don’t deprive yourself! I’m simply giving you some alternative options.
Here are some of my other favorite high-volume, low calorie foods:
- Riced cauliflower
- Yellow squash
- Bell peppers
- Spinach/kale/other salad greens
- Brussels sprouts
- Greens beans
- Sugar snap peas