You’re starving. Your stomach is screaming with hunger, demanding that you fill its emptiness with food. Unable to ignore the strengthening pangs, you examine the contents of your kitchen and to your horror, find that there’s not much. Your options are limited to pretzels, last night’s onion rings or some leftover chicken – carbs, fat or protein. You opt for the pretzels, deeming the onion rings too nutritiously devoid and the chicken too meal-like. Did you make the right decision?
At first glance and for the first few moments after your snack, it may seem like you did. But in the minutes that follow, as the hunger once again rears its ugly head, you’ll realize otherwise. Carbohydrates, according to a recent study, are the least effective nutrient at curbing hunger. Initially, they convince you that you are full by suppressing ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, but that quickly changes as the ghrelin rebounds, rising to even higher levels. You are left more unsatisfied than you had been. What, then, should you have eaten?
Sorry, the answer is not onion rings. It’s protein. Protein, when compared to carbohydrates and fat, is the best appetite suppressor. It creates in you a true fullness that will last for an appropriate amount of time. It is the best way to ward off hunger and is a nutrient that you should make sure is regularly present in your diet . . . but in a healthy way.
You should not start walking around with a side of beef in your pocket, gnawing off a hunk every time your stomach starts to rumble. You should instead discover the many nutritious sources of protein ranging from fish to eggs to soy. Beans, for example, have as much protein in one-half cup as a 3-oz. serving of broiled steak. Milk, cheese and yogurt (in low-fat form) are also healthy alternatives. You don’t have to devote yourself to a life of red meat to remain happily full. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.
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