Imagine this: hefty day at work….. stomach rumbling….. looks at watch……. damn it’s only 11am…..
HOW DO I CONCENTRATE FOR 2 HOURS ON NO FOOD?
We’ve all been there, either too hungry before lunch or before tea, and it is NOT a pleasant feeling.
the science – satiety levels tend to improve when food stays in the digestive system longer. For carbohydrates, this can be explained via Glycaemic index* – which is a number expressing how the carbohydrate affects blood glucose levels. Foods with lower glycaemic indexes tend to keep a person fuller for longer as they are slowly digested and contain more fibre/ resistant starch – for example wholemeal foods and pulses. These foods therefore cause a slow and gradual rise in blood glucose levels. Foods with high glycaemic indexes are rapidly digested as they contain sugars and cause quick spikes in blood glucose levels – for example white bread and cereals like cornflakes. Foods may also stay longer in the digestive system, and therefore improve mid-morning/afternoon hunger, if paired with fat or protein as these nutrients tend to have effects on gut emptying.
*Note that there can be some issues with using this method to predict satiety levels as it can be affected by the amount of carbohydrate consumed and the other components of the meal.
Hopefully I can give you a few handy tips on stopping this from happening so you can power on through your day!
HUNGRY AT 11AM
Just think about what you have had for breakfast…. Cereal? Toast? Eggs? Nothing?
I mean, to point out the obvious, if you’re hungry at 11am and you haven’t had breakfast I think I’ve just solved the issue.
BUT, for the majority of us, the hunger pangs are down to WHAT we are eating at breakfast.
BREAKFAST FOODS THAT CAN KEEP US FULLER FOR LONGER:
Eggs are high in protein which stays in the digestive system for long periods of time, therefore a mixture of eggs with other carbohydrate or fat-based foods will keep you powering on through until lunchtime.
- Cheese and spinach omelette
- Poached eggs and avocado on wholemeal toast
- Scrambled eggs and lean bacon on wholemeal toast
- Boiled dippy eggs with wholemeal toast and grilled tomatoes
Porridge stays in the digestive system longer as it is high in fibre, so when cooked with semi-skimmed milk (which provides proteins and fats), and topped with some yummy but nutritious toppings, it is the perfect breakfast to start the day with. Here are some topping ideas:
- Honey, dried fruit, nut and seeds
- Peanut butter and banana
- Dates, raisens, banana and cinnamon
- Nutella and strawberries
- Coconut flakes, mango, papaya and pineapple
- Chopped pears and maple syrup
- Wholemeal/rye bread – jam on toast, bacon butty, dippy eggs, you name it – should increase satiety levels when eaten compared its white bread counterpart.
- Wholemeal cereals – there is truth behind the saying ‘he must have had his Weetabix this morning’, so stock up on those flaked rectangles of goodness as well as cereals like fruit and fibre, and avoid cereals like Cornflakes and Rice Krispies which contain sugars rather than slowly digesting carbohydrates.
- Wholemeal rice/pasta – okay, okay, I know this isn’t a conventional breakfast food. As a student, when it is coming up to shopping week, I admittedly have has pasta and pesto for breakfast a few times, and it has kept me full until lunchtime!
HUNGRY AT 4PM
Please refer to ‘HUNGRY AT 11AM’. One of the main reasons that you could be getting hungry at 4 is that your breakfast is not big or nutritious enough to sustain you throughout the day.
Despite this, most people (including me) reach for a mid-afternoon snack to keep me going through to teatime and there has been some pretty extensive research on what snacks we should be eating to keep us going, and stop us from over-snacking or over-eating at the next meal.
SNACK FOODS THAT CAN KEEP US FULLER FOR LONGER:
There has been some interesting research conducted that found that eating yoghurt over other high-fat snacks increases the satiety of the consumer, and yoghurt tends to include high amounts of protein which can also aid this. Greek yoghurts tend to be the preferred option, and if you prefer it topped with something to sweeten it, refer to the porridge toppings above.
Again, high in protein and fat, nuts are a great snack alternative to anything high in sugar. Although a handful may not seem like much quantity-wise, they will sure fill you up. Here are some nut options worth about 100 calories:
- 15-19 almonds
- 13-14 cashews
- 28-30 peanuts
- 10 pecan halves
- 28 shelled pistachios
High in fibre so moves through the gut slower, containing lots of vitamins and minerals and counting as one of your 5-a-day, these are a perfect snacking option. A handful is usually a good portion, and prunes, plums and dates have been found to come out on top when looking at satiety levels.
I hope this helps stave those cravings and gives some good options for breakfast and snacks for those on-the-go days!
Cummings, J. and Mann, J. (2012) ‘Carbohydrates’, in Mann, J. and Truswell, A. (eds.) essentials of human nutrition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 21-49.
Isakksson, H., Rakha, A., Andersson, R., Fredriksson, H., Olsson, J. and Aman, P. (2011) ‘Rye kernel breakfast increases satiety in the afternoon – an effect of food structure’, Nutrition Journal, 10(1).
Kuznesof, S., Brownlee, I., Moore, C., Richardson, D., Jebb, S. and Seal, C. (2012). ‘WHOLEheart study participant acceptance of wholegrain foods’, Appetite, 59(1). pp 187 – 193.
NHS Choices (2015) What is the glycemic index (GI)?. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/1862.aspx?categoryid=51 (Accessed: 17 November 2017).
Njike, V., Smith, T., Shuval, O., Shuval, K., Edshteyn, I., Kalantari, V. and Yaroch, A. (2016) ‘Snack food, Satiety and Weight’, Advances in Nutrition, 7(5). pp 866-878.