25 Filling Foods That Will Keep You Satisfied (So You’re Not Reaching for Candy 30 Minutes After Lunch)

Just because you’re trying to lose a few pounds doesn’t mean you have to walk around feeling hungry. With some strategic planning, you can eat until you’re full without having to worry so much about the calorie count. We tapped F45 nutritionist Kim Bowman, M.S., C.N.P., to uncover the best filling foods to keep you satiated (without filling you out).

What makes a food filling?

According to Bowman, the most filling foods are “whole (single ingredient), unprocessed foods in their natural state.” That’s because, as she explains, they’re nutritionally dense, “high in beneficial nutrients yet low in calories.” Here’s what to look for when seeking out filling foods:

  • Protein: Eating foods high in protein curbs your appetite by altering the levels of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone,” says Bowman, and because it requires more energy for your body to burn, has also been shown to boost metabolism.
  • Plant-based fat: Fat is the most energy-dense macronutrient, meaning it contains more calories per gram than carbs or protein. Translation: Small amounts of unsaturated fat from plant sources (like olive oil or avocado) will keep you satiated longer than carbs or protein alone.
  • Fiber: Foods with a lot of fiber slow digestion and make you feel full for longer, and when eaten with protein and healthy fats, provides a steady release of energy throughout the day. (Bye, cravings.)

And, as Bowman explains, if you combine these three factors, you can make a nutrient-dense, satisfying meal. Not sure where to start? Try one of these 25 filling foods.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

1. Wild-caught Salmon

“When it comes to consuming quality protein and fat, wild-caught salmon is one of the most nutritionally dense foods,” Bowman says. “It’s loaded with a number of nutrients, from essential amino acids to omega-3 fatty acids, which may also play a role in increasing satiety to benefit weight loss.” A three-ounce portion contains 121 calories, 17 grams of protein and five grams of fat, along with essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium and folate.

Heidi Swanson/Super Natural Simple

2. Beans

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart and your waistline, thanks to all their fiber and plant-based protein. According to the USDA, a half-cup serving of black beans contains 8 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber; the numbers are similar for other beans, like cannellini, kidney and pinto.

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3. Lentils

Part of the pulse family (aka dry seeds within plant pods), lentils are loaded with fiber and plant protein—ten grams of fiber and 24 grams of protein per half-cup serving, to be exact. Plus, as Bowman explains, they have a relatively low energy density (read: calories) making them an optimal filling food choice.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

4. Chickpeas

Go ahead, have a second scoop of hummus: Its main ingredient, the chickpea, is an excellent source of protein (seven grams per half-cup serving) and fiber (six grams), plus folate, iron and phosphorus.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

5. Kale

Aside from being packed with fiber, (four grams per 100 gram serving), kale is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, potassium and vitamins C, A and K. We’re all about that kale Caesar life, but if chomping on the raw leaves isn’t your style, try wilting it into a big pot of minestrone.

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6. Spinach

Like kale, spinach is a filling food that’s extremely nutritionally dense while being low in calories. In a 100-gram portion, you’ll get three grams of protein, two grams of fiber and just 27 calories, plus tons of potassium and vitamin A. (Popeye was onto something, wasn’t he?)

Eva Kolenko/Bread Toast Crumbs

7. Broccoli

Rounding out the green veggie category, broccoli is a low-cal, high-fiber winner. A 100-gram serving packs three grams each of fiber and protein, plus vitamin C and K for your health. Just think: If you dipped it in hummus, you’d have one mighty filling snack.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

8. Nuts

Per Bowman, nuts like almonds, walnuts and pecans are not only rich in protein and fiber but also high in plant-based fats to boost satiety. A quarter-cup serving (that’s about a handful) contains around seven grams of protein, four grams of fiber and 16 grams of unsaturated fat to keep you from reaching for that bag of potato chips. Plus, according to the National Sleep Foundation, almonds and walnuts contain the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin, so they’re a great midnight snack.

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9. Nut Butters

Speaking of nuts, many nut butters fall into the healthy and filling category, as long as you choose a jar that’s low in added sugar and oil. Almond butter boasts heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals, per Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and a two-tablespoon serving offers seven grams of protein and three grams of fiber.

Maria Siriano/The Probiotic Kitchen

10. Chia Seeds

A one-ounce serving of chia seeds contains nine grams of fat, four grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, and per a chart from a 2005 study from the University of Minnesota, fiber leads to greater satiety, less insulin secretion and more short-chain fatty acids. Basically, all of these things mean less body weight. So yeah, go ahead and add them to your smoothie (or make this chia seed jam for toast).

Katherine Gillen

11. Organic Eggs

“A large egg contains approximately six grams of protein, all nine essential amino acids, vitamins A and B12, minerals including choline and iron, and antioxidants including lutein and zeaxanthin,” Bowman notes. Plus, they’re relatively low in calories (about 140 calories per 100 grams), not to mention a versatile ingredient for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

12. Rolled Oats

Oats are rich in soluble fiber and relatively low in calories, which Bowman says makes them a powerful and highly nutritious filling food for weight loss. Choose the least processed types (rolled and steel cut) instead of pre-packaged instant oats, which can be high in added sugar. With four grams of protein and three grams of fiber per serving, they’re a smart breakfast (or snack) when you want to feel full.

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13. Avocado

Avocado is like the poster child for “healthy fat,” aka unsaturated fat, which studies have shown is more heart healthy than saturated fat. But did you know it’s also rich in fiber? Yep, a 50-gram serving (about a third of a fruit) contains nearly 4 grams.

Amanda Frederickson/Simple Beautiful Food

14. Sweet Potato

All potatoes are pretty filling, but sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, protein and antioxidants. They’re also extremely low in fat and calories. Best of all, they’re high in fiber (about eight grams per cup), so they’ll keep you full and satisfied for hours.

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15. Raspberries

Craving something sweet? Reach for a handful of raspberries. All berries—including strawberries and blueberries—are healthy snacks, but raspberries have the most fiber, with eight grams per cup (and only 65 calories).

Allison Day/Modern Lunch

16. Quinoa

It’s filling like a grain, but it’s actually a seed—1 cup contains eight grams of protein, but will cost you only 200 calories. Take that, rice. Plus, as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health notes, unlike other plant proteins, this ancient grain contains all nine essential amino acids (which makes it a complete protein). Looking for a way to start cooking with it? Try this citrus, shrimp and quinoa salad.

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17. Greek Yogurt

In a whole seven-ounce container of low-fat Greek yogurt you’ll get 20 grams of protein, four grams of fat and about 150 calories, per the USDA. Instead of loading up on sugary sweetener (which can potentially throw your blood sugar off course), top your bowl with fresh fruit and crunchy chia seeds or nuts.

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18. Apples

Apples (and pears) contain a special type of fiber called pectin that studies show is effective at slowing down digestion, keeping you feeling fuller longer and potentially helping your weight-loss goals. Midday munchies? Not anymore. A 100-gram serving of apple contains 2 grams of fiber and just 60 calories.

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19. Popcorn

You’re trying to quell a snack craving, but you don’t want to beeline for the cheese puffs. That’s where popcorn comes into play. The addictively crisp, salty snack is naturally light—a whopping 3-cup serving clocks in at about 100 calories with 4 grams of fiber. Snack on.

Erin McDowell

20. Edamame

Memorize this equation: Protein + fiber = satisfying snack. Edamame contains 13 grams of protein and six grams of fiber in a one-cup serving, along with lots of potassium and folate. For extra flavor, try them roasted with a touch of flaky salt.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

21. Smoothies

If you pack your smoothie with fibrous fruits and vegetables, it’s a totally waistline-friendly food. For example, this green smoothie with avocado and apple gets a boost of fiber from chia seeds and spinach, plus all that healthy fat from the avocado. (Oh, and if you blend them for about 5 minutes, you’ll incorporate more air for a frothier, more filling drink.)

Erin McDowell

22. Cauliflower

Like broccoli, cauliflower is made up of mostly fiber and water, so it’ll fill you up quickly with volume instead of calories. One cup contains about 30 calories, two grams of protein and two grams of fiber, so it’s a smart item to fill your plate with—even better when it’s marinated in spices and roasted whole.

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23. Cottage Cheese

“Cottage cheese is an optimal protein source for boosting satiety,” Bowman explains, since “It’s high in protein yet low in calories.” A ½-cup serving of low-fat cottage cheese clocks in at about 90 calories and has a whopping 12 grams of protein. It got a bad rap for being a boring weight-loss food, but toss in a handful of raspberries and we say it’s delish. (Not to mention, a recent study from Cambridge University indicates that the type of protein, casein, can actually help you hit your weight-loss goals and sleep better.)

Julia Gartland/Dada Eats

24. Bananas

You know they’re packed with potassium, but don’t forget that bananas are also pretty high in fiber at two grams per serving. Psst: Try this morning soft-serve recipe—which contains hemp seeds and almond butter too—for a real breakfast treat.

Photo: Nico Schinco/Styling: Aran Goyoaga

25. Broth

Gorgeous, gorgeous girls love soup…and so should you. Broth-based soups packed with vegetables and lean protein (like chicken) are a delicious way to feel satiated without a ton of calories and can aide in weight loss if you swap them in for their cream-based counterparts. For example, one serving of this spicy lemon-ginger chicken soup contains 215 calories, 7 grams of fat, 23 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

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