The salad, arguably the #1 food most associated with dieting. Whenever somebody talks about “being on a diet”, or “going on a diet”, it’s almost inevitable that at some point, the topic of salads is going to come up, and how they are going to start eating more of them.
Now, I’m not saying this to talk bad about salads, I love salads. In fact, they can be a great, nutrient-dense food, which give us a huge portion size relative to the amount of calories they contain. This is especially great when we’re dieting and have a reduced number of calories to work with, because eating a decent sized salad along with our meal gives us more food to eat, and makes us feel like we’re eating a normal sized meal.
Because you are reading this article, I think it’s safe to assume that you have probably dieted before at some point in your life (Maybe you are right now), and have also come across this issue….
“Even when I eat a huge salad, loaded with all kinds of delicious, fresh vegetables, I’m still starving when I’m done, and I don’t know why.”
Unfortunately, when this happens, we either have to suffer through the next few hours of the day until our next meal, or, oftentimes what ends up happening, is we eat something else to help curb our lack of fullness, whether that be a dessert after the meal, grabbing something on the way home, or ripping into the first high-calorie, salty or sweet snack we see when we get home. What’s even worse, is that we sometimes end up eating more calories from this post-meal snack, than what we would have, had we just ordered a normal entrée.
Why is this? Why don’t some salads fill you up?
Spinach leaves, Romaine lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Green Peppers, Broccoli, Cauliflower, etc. A combination of these vegetables is pretty much your typical Garden Fresh Salad, a common favorite amongst many dieters. And while this vegetable medley contains an awesome blend of various vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, etc., you know what else it contains a lot of? Water…
And although water is amazing for us, and essential for life, it moves through our digestive system very quickly. So when we eat a mixture containing just foods similar to those listed above, we essentially just consumed a lot of water, which really doesn't have any substance to it, and combined with the insoluble fiber also present in many of these foods (which also speeds up digestion), they can move through our digestive system at a relatively quick pace (When eaten in reasonable amounts). Not to mention, that the lack of macro-nutrients, and therefore calories present in these foods, don’t “communicate” with our body the same way (via hormonal changes, etc.), and therefore don’t down-regulate our appetite and drive to eat in the same way other, more calorie dense foods do.
So what are you saying then? Don’t eat salads?
No, I’m not saying that at all. I’m just suggesting that if you decide you’d like to start having a large salad for dinner or lunch, think about adding some other foods to it, which have a more satiating effect then what consuming vegetables alone would have.
Try adding some source of protein, such as: eggs or eggwhites, tuna, chicken breast, salmon, shrimp, tofu etc. The food source you choose, and the portion size, will be dependent upon your individual needs and goals (The same can be said about all of the recommendations that follow). Protein itself provides a satiating effect, plus it aids in reducing soreness and helping with recovery from your workouts.
Also, add some source of either fat, and/or carbohydrate. Again, the specific foods you choose, and portion sizes of each, will vary depending on your specific needs. Things such as: nuts or cheese, olive oil, sunflower seeds, quinoa, pasta, beans, dried fruit, etc. (Many of these foods also contain protein as well). The list is virtually endless.
Usually when we talk about dieting, it’s about ways to help reduce our caloric intake, or “cut-calories”, however doing this too much, and in ways which go harshly against our habitual eating patterns, can leave us feeling extremely hungry, moody and food-focused, not to mention drastically increase our likelihood of binging, and knocking ourselves off track from our goals.
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