Despite what you may think, it’s not because your stomach is literally a bottomless pit. You’re probably just not eating foods that make you feel full enough to hold you over until your next meal.
With that, protein usually gets all the attention — as it should. The muscle-building nutrient will certainly leave you feeling satisfied. “A food that makes a person feel full is generally a food that takes longer to digest,” says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N. author of The Small Change Diet. That means your body doesn’t convert it into glucose (a type of sugar) to burn as fuel quickly.
Protein-rich foods are usually more slowly digested than carbohydrates, which helps make that full feeling last longer, says Gans. Contrary to popular belief, though, loading up on protein alone isn’t always going to be enough.
“People tend to be so focused on protein when it comes to feeling full, but fullness comes from the fiber and fat as well,” says Alissa Rumsey M.S., R.D., founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness. “If you just have a high protein meal, and are missing fat and fiber, you won’t feel as full or for as long.”
So what do those foods look like? Here are six filling options that aren’t necessarily all about protein. Reach for them if you want to ward off that mid-afternoon snack attack for good.
“Pistachios offer fiber and better-for-you unsaturated fats, in addition to plant-based protein,” says Rumsey, a trifecta that works to keep your stomach happy. Use them to top your soup or oatmeal, mixed into a smoothie, or on their own as a midday snack. (We love these 100-calorie packs from Wonderful Pistachios.)
Roughly 1/4 cup of pistachios will serve you around 3 grams of fiber and 14 grams of healthy fat, in addition to 6 grams of protein.
Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber, says Rumsey. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like material in your GI tract, helping to slow your digestion, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Bonus: some types of soluble fiber may even help slash your risk of heart disease.)
“Boost the fat content by making your oatmeal with 2 percent or whole milk or adding some nuts to it,” she says. Or, go beyond breakfast by bulking up your smoothies, soups, or salads with raw oats. Try these old fashioned oats from Bob’s Red Mill for 5 g of fiber, 7 g of protein, and 3.5 g of fat per 1/2 cup.
Artichokes are a good source of insoluble fiber, which passes quickly through your digestive tract, helping to alleviate constipation. “Toss them with lots of other veggies, a little olive oil, and some whole wheat pasta for a filling meal,” says Gans.
Artichokes offer about 8 g of fiber per cup, in addition of 5 g of protein. Plus, you’ll get an extra dose of fiber from the whole wheat pasta and healthy fat thanks to the olive oil.
Related: 10 Reasons Why You Just Can’t Poop
Both Gans and Rumsey recommend filling up on legumes and pulses, since they are all excellent sources of fiber.
Pulses (like beans, peas, and lentils) in particular are a great source of prebiotic fibers, which “help feed our gut bacteria and improve gut health,” says Rumsey. (Try these chickpeas from Eden Foods for 5 g of fiber and 7 g of protein per 1/2 cup.
Don’t have time to whip up an egg? Your favorite toast topper really is worth the hype, as long as you’re eating it with the right bread, says Gans. The monounsaturated fat from avocado is great for your heart. Paired with the fiber found in 100 percent whole wheat bread, you’ll have a filling no-fuss breakfast, she says.