To illustrate, think about the diet bars people often eat for breakfast.
They must be among the best foods for weight loss, right? After all, they’re called diet bars. They’re usually about 250 to 300 calories, which isn’t terrible considering it’s your entire breakfast.
But that, right there, is the problem. In just three or four quick bites, breakfast is over. And sure, that diet bar may help you feel vaguely satisfied at the moment (though you really could have eaten another).
But a bigger problem starts around 10 am, when hunger hits.
By 10:30, feeling light-headed and ravenous, many of us are out the door for a quick walk around the corner to Starbucks or another eatery for a 450-calorie muffin full of white flour, sugar, egg yolks, and fat.
And maybe to wash it down, a Venti Frappuccino (another 450 calories).
Satiety (Feeling Full)
“Many foods and drinks in the typical American diet, including so-called diet bars, are fattening because they provide very little satiety per calorie,” explains Dr. Kenney.
“By contrast, foods that provide more satiety on far fewer calories are ‘thinning’ because they take away hunger with a far lower calorie intake.”
Key To Long-Term Weight Control
“Understanding how to keep hunger at bay and remain in a state of satiety longer while consuming fewer total calories is the key to long-term weight control,” sums up Dr. Kenney.
Best Foods For Weight Loss
For breakfast – and for all meals throughout the day – you want food that gives you the most satiety for every calorie you consume.
When you do that, you may still be fighting temptation (the aromas from bakeries like Cinnabon can be killers), but you aren’t fighting temptation and hunger, which means your weight-loss efforts have a fighting chance.
Losing 104 pounds
Joel Hector, who lost 104 pounds after coming to the Pritikin Longevity Center, may have said it best:
“Before Pritikin, I had tried every diet known to mankind. The end result of every one was failure. No matter what diet I tried, I was always hungry, which means I was always eating. The Pritikin diet worked for me. I was never hungry, and if you’re not hungry, simply put, you’re not eating!”
What Is Satiety?
Satiety is the flip side of hunger. It’s getting out of hunger.
But even more importantly, satiety is how long you stay full. “Staying fuller longer on fewer calories is key,” states Dr. Kenney.
Does your meal fill you up for one hour? Two hours? Three hours? The longer it “sticks to your ribs,” the more satiety that meal provided. (Clearly, the diet bar discussed earlier flunked these criteria.)
“Meals that provide the highest satiety for the fewest calories aid weight loss and also long-term weight control because they do not force you to live with chronic hunger,” explains Dr. Kenney.
Foods With a High Satiety-Per-Calorie Ratio
Generally, foods with a high satiety-per-calorie ratio are:
- Naturally rich in fiber (and require more chewing)
- Naturally rich in water
- Low in fats/oils
- Low in calorie density (which means that your calorie intake, per bite, is low).
A Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit at McDonald’s, for example, has about 100 calories per bite (520 calories in total). It’s called “large” in size, but how large is it, really, if you could easily order a second? Or, if in an hour or two, you’re hungry again? That’s what happens when your food is low in fiber, low in water, and/or high in fat, and so dense with calories.
A Banquet Every Morning at Pritikin
Are you concerned that if you clear your pantry of diet bars, granola bars, boxes of dried cereal, and other foods with little satiety per calorie, you’ll be left with little to eat for breakfast?
“You’ve got to come to Pritikin and see what we serve for breakfast,” smiles Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, Director of Nutrition at Pritikin.
Breakfast at the Pritikin health resort is a veritable banquet. What’s more, guests are encouraged to eat till they’re satisfyingly full (but not stuffed).
Choices include 10+ varieties of locally-grown fresh fruit; egg-white omelets with selections like fresh salsa, grilled asparagus, and nonfat ricotta cheese; a hot cereal bar with several freshly cooked choices like oatmeal supreme, cracked wheat, and 7-grain; and fruit sauces like mango, peach, and kiwi.
Pritikin eating works for weight loss “because you aren’t losing your mind while you’re losing weight,” notes comedian and actress Caroline Rhea, first host of The Biggest Loser. There’s no calorie counting, no deprivation, no hunger. Instead, the focus is simply a lot of good, healthy food.
Best Breakfasts For Weight Loss and Health
Below are breakfast suggestions from the nutritionists and registered dietitians at Pritikin. These foods are best choices for weight loss as well as health, including heart health, prevention of diabetes, and lowering of blood pressure. That’s because they not only have the highest satiety for the fewest calories, they’re also low in saturated fat, sugar, salt, and heavily processed, refined grains.
“Don’t think you’re restricted to just one of the choices below for your morning meal. Feel free to combine foods in whatever way pleases you personally,” encourages Pritikin dietitian Kimberly Gomer.
“For example, if you’re in the mood for oatmeal plus fresh fruit plus an egg-white omelet, go right ahead. That’s the beauty of Pritikin eating. All your choices are good choices. And you’ll never have to count calories again.”
Best Breakfasts For Weight Loss
- Oatmeal with nonfat milk or soy milk. All oats are whole grains, so they’re all good choices, from Irish to old-fashioned to rolled. That said, steel cut oats are less processed than old-fashioned or instant oatmeal. And no longer do you have to stand by the stove for several minutes stirring steel cut varieties. Companies like Quaker now make steel cut oats you can microwave in 3 minutes.Whatever type of oatmeal you buy, always read the Ingredient List to make sure there is no added sugar or sodium. Single-serving packets are often high in added sugars and sodium. Watch out for ingredients that don’t say “sugar” but actually are, such as corn syrup, agave syrup, sorghum, rice syrup, molasses, honey, malted barley, or terms that end in “ose,” such as dextrose and fructose. Sugar alcohols like sorbitol and mannitol are better than sugar because they are not as efficiently absorbed and consequently are lower in calories. But keep your intake of sugar alcohols small. Large amounts often cause bloating and diarrhea.
- Other hot, whole-grain cereals are excellent choices, too, such as barley, cracked wheat, cracked rye, 7 whole grains, bulgar, cream of brown rice, cream of buckwheat, oat bran, spelt, and corn meal.
- Fresh fruit. Top your hot, whole-grain cereal with berries. (Frozen varieties of fruit are perfectly fine, particularly when fresh, in-season fruit choices are scarce. Just make sure they have no added sugar or syrup).
- Egg white omelet with veggies like green onions, mushrooms, and/or vegetables left over from last night’s dinner, such as sautéed spinach and other leafy greens.You can even cook your omelet in the microwave. Just lightly spray the inside of a microwaveable bowl with oil spray like Pam. Scramble your egg whites in the bowl. Add a cup or two of veggies, freshly ground black pepper or no-salt-added seasoning like Pritikin All-Purpose Seasoning. Nuke, covered, for about 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the heat of your microwave.
- Beans (such as no-salt-added canned black beans) with fresh salsa stirred in.
- Tofu scramble. The night before, press 4 to 6 ounces of extra-firm tofu to drain water. In a small bowl, combine a little balsamic vinegar, dry oregano, and minced garlic. Pour over tofu. Marinate overnight. Come morning, sauté sliced onions and red bell pepper in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until softened. Add tofu, crumbling it into bite-sized pieces, and cook till slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Nonfat, plain yogurt, no sugar added. Want some sweetness? That’s what fresh fruit is for. If you need more sweetness, swirl in a packet of sucralose (Splenda) or stevia (many brands available). Want rich, creamy-style thickness? Try any of the many Greek-style yogurts now available nationwide, such as Athenos, Chobani, Dannon, Eros, Fate, Oikos, Siggi’s, as well as store brands. (Trader Joe’s nonfat, plain yogurt is so thick and delish you can even use it in dips like tzatsiki. Your guests will never guess they’re eating fat-free yogurt.)
- If you like your nonfat yogurt flavored, from vanilla to key lime, that’s fine. But read the Ingredient List to make sure it has no added sugar or syrup. Good brands include Cascade and Dannon Light, as well as many store brands.
- Craving a zesty egg wrap? You’ll love this Yucatan Egg Wrap recipe, compliments of the award-winning chefs at the Pritikin health resort.