Isn’t it NEAT to eat a lot without gaining weight?

If you are looking for one word answer to the question above, then YES! Sounds like a dream right?

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What we eat and how much we eat are closely connected with how much we weigh. And if you overdo it at your snacks and meals, you will eventually gain weight. But we always wonder about that one friend who defies all laws of weight gain and calories. That person can put down jelly-filled donuts, jumbo size fries and huge burgers without gaining a single ounce. Doesn’t it sound NEAT on her part?
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), people who eat all day and do not gain weight are engaged in a practice that is called Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Such people are most active than the rest of the population and thus burn much more calories than the others. However, an interesting fact is that they don’t necessarily spend much time at the gym.
It might sound as a superior concept but NEAT is actually quite simple. Apart from your regimented workouts, all physical activities count. From standing up and pacing while talking on the phone to chopping cabbage for dinner, or even twiddling your thumbs on your desk, you are getting involved in NEAT.

How to engage in NEAT?
NEAT do not come naturally to some people. So they might be able to train themselves consciously by including more movements in their day. Taping your fingers at the work desk or wiggle your legs, choose standing over sitting whenever it is possible, and other small movements can really help you. You can also purchase a pedometer and burn more calories by setting goals like 12,000 steps a day. You will eventually experience a positive change in your energy levels and it will increase your metabolism by almost 50 percent. So if on an average you were burning 2,000 calories per day, NEAT can help you to burn about 3,000 calories per day.

Lean muscle tissue
Another reason why that person stays thin regardless of gobbling up all that spaghetti is a high percentage of lean muscle tissue. Comparatively, muscle takes more calories than fat. So you will eventually burn more calories if you have more muscle. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one can increase ones metabolism by almost 15 percent just by building more muscle. To build muscle mass, take a yoga class, lift weights or simply indulge in calisthenic exercises like squats, push-ups and sit-ups. Not only this will help with your weight loss, but you will be capable of performing everyday activities more efficiently.

Now let us talk about our food choices as it is one of the major factors for weight gain. Eat food until you reach satiety (feel full) is one important advice given to all dieters. But different foods have extremely different effects on satiety and hunger. Therefore weight loss is about choosing the right foods and not just feeling full.
Filling foods make you feel full reducing your hunger and thereby lowering your calorie intake over the day. Filling foods have following four qualities:
High volume: Consumption of foods higher in volume increases satiety without adding calories.
High protein: As protein is more filling than carbohydrates and fat, it increases satiety and leads to lower calorie intake.
High fiber: Fiber provides bulk and thus makes us feel full. It also keeps us feeling fuller for long by slowing down the movement of food in our digestive tract.
Low energy density: These foods are low in calories for their weight. Such foods can help us feeling full for fewer calories.

 

Here are 10 filling foods you can eat a lot without gaining weight

1. Boiled potatoes
There is a misconception of avoiding potatoes to lose weight due to their higher carbohydrate content. Whole potatoes contain fiber, vitamin and other essential nutrients with a certain type of starch known as resistant starch. This starch contains half the amount of calories in your regular starch, thus acting like a soluble fiber in your body making you feel full. So it will eventually satisfy your hunger and you will eat fewer calories. It is interesting to know that boiled potatoes makes you satisfy for fewer calories, but the same is not true for the fried potato chips.

2. Whole eggs
Eggs can be very filling in your diet. Eggs are quite healthy and have high content of several important nutrients. Most of its proteins are found in yolk. Having all nine essential amino acids, eggs are considered as a complete protein. According to a study, people who eat eggs for breakfast are more satisfied and consume fewer calories during the day.

3. Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a type of hot cereal or porridge which is often consumed as breakfast. It is high in fiber, soaks up water which is why it is incredibly filling. Oats contain a soluble fiber known as beta-glucan. Beta-glucan slows down digestion of carbohydrates and also it absorption. Oatmeal is better at increasing satiety leading to fewer calorie intakes during the day.

4. Broth based soups
Soups are quite filling foods. Research shows that those who eat soup at the start of the meal have higher chances of increased satiety. Several studies have found that people who routinely consume soup reduce their calorie intake and enhance satiety which promotes weight loss. Subjects of that study consumed 20% less calories at a particular meal.

 5. Legumes
Being high in protein and fiber, legumes are very filling. They also have fewer calories making them a food perfect for weight loss. Several studies have indicated that peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas increase 31% more satiety than bread and pasta.

 

6. Vegetables
Vegetables contain high fiber content and water and lower calories, making you feel full for long. They also have beneficial nutrients and plant components making them an essential part of a healthy diet. According to a research, salads help satisfy hunger, especially if consumed right before a meal.

 

7. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits have high pectin content which slows down digestion increasing satiety. Due to their high water content, fruits are capable of making you feel full for very few calories. Obese people eating fruits significantly lost more weight than those getting a placebo.

 

8. Fish
Fish has high protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Protein makes the food more filling while omega-3 fatty acid increases satiety. In one study it was found that satiety effect of fish was greater than that of chicken. Fish is considered more filling than beef and chicken

9. Lean meats
Meat has high protein content and thus very filling. One study found that people, who eat high-protein meat at one meal, consume 12% less calories than those who eat high-carbohydrate meal.

 

 

10. Cottage cheese
Many people avoid cottage cheese while trying to lose weight, but really they should not. Cottage cheese has low calorie content and high protein content making it filling. It also includes B vitamins, calcium, selenium and phosphorus which are healthy nutrients. In fact cottage cheese has satiety effect as efficient as eggs.

 

The dream of eating a lot and still stay thin can be made into a reality with a little hard work and dedication. Indulging in NEAT can eventually help you burn 50% more calories than your previous daily regime. In addition to NEAT, include more filling foods in your diet. they are high in proteins, volume, fiber and low in energy density leading to you feeling more satisfied in fewer calories.

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ISHITA LOHANI has been active in the health and nutrition field from the past five years. She has a freelance career in Food, Nutrition and Lifestyle writing. She has authored two books: “Eating healthy for life” and “Weight loss tricks: Top 10 weight loss hacks”. Having a graduate degree in food science and technology, her opinion of the lifestyle front is simple yet connectable.

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