The Top 10 Most Filling Vegetables To Keep You Satiated All Day Long

The Top 10 Most Filling Vegetables To Keep You Satiated All Day Long Dr. Will Cole

Do you ever find yourself mindlessly snacking throughout the day? If you are constantly hungry, chances are you aren’t eating the most satisfying meals. In my telehealth functional medicine clinic, it’s my job to help people nourish their bodies with delicious superfoods.

By focusing on eating more nutrient-dense foods, particularly vegetables that are filling, you can limit your need to snack while facilitating better overall health. Read on to learn more about the best vegetables to eat so you can stay fuller for longer.

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Do vegetables actually fill you up?

When you think about filling foods, vegetables aren’t necessarily at the top of your list. Healthy fats are typically my go-to when it comes to staying full as long as possible however, that isn’t to say that vegetables aren’t filling - you just have to choose the right ones! To choose vegetables that are filling, I look for ones that follow this criteria:

  • High in protein: Other than fat, protein is one of the most filling macronutrients for longer satiety. 
  • High in fiber: In addition to fueling your good gut bacteria, fiber promotes healthy digestion while providing bulk that keeps you feeling full for longer. 
  • High in volume: The more water content a vegetable has, the more filling it will be.

I have also found that by pairing these vegetables with healthy fats can increase satiety even more. My plant-based keto book, Ketotarian, focuses on the health benefits of a high-fat, plant-based diet for lowered inflammation, increased energy, enhanced metabolism, better brain health, and more.

How diet affects physical and mental health

When choosing what foods to eat, it’s not enough to just look at what will fill you up the quickest. You have to take into account how that food affects your health and how it makes you feel. After all, you can fill up on bread and ice cream but you won’t exactly feel good!

Your body runs on a specific ratio of macro and micronutrients to function optimally. Every system of your body relies on these various nutrients to keep your gut healthy, hormones balanced, inflammation levels stable, and more. Not only does this play a role in how you feel physically, it also impacts how you feel mentally. 

For example, almost 90% of your “happy” neurotransmitter, serotonin, is produced (1) by specific bacteria in your gut. Since certain foods - fiber-rich vegetables in particular - can facilitate the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut, it is important to eat more of these and less processed foods that encourage the growth of pathogenic bacteria. 

This is important to note, as these same processed foods can also contribute to chronic inflammation in the body that ends up being the underlying factor in depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In fact, one study (2) has shown that inflammation has been found to trigger depression, almost like an allergic reaction and that immunotherapy might be a potential way to treat depression.

When it comes to healthy eating, diversity is key because it helps you get a wide range of phytonutrients while providing different types of fiber to keep your gut bacteria diverse and micronutrients that all areas of your body need to thrive. That’s what makes vegetables a perfect choice to load up your plate with since there is a ton of variety to choose from and have some of the highest levels of fiber and micronutrients.

The top most filling vegetables

Considering what vegetables are high in protein, fiber, and volume, these are my top choices for vegetables that are filling. As a bonus, most of these vegetables also contain high levels of micronutrients that will benefit your overall health!

1. Sweet potatoes

Rich in filling fiber and starch (especially with the skins on), sweet potatoes also contain high levels of carotenoids, antioxidants that can decrease your risk of diseases like cancer and eye problems.

2. Artichokes

One medium-sized artichoke contains about 7 grams of inulin fiber. This type of fiber is super beneficial as it acts as a prebiotic to support your gut bacteria.

3. Broccoli

This vegetable is at the top of my list of vegetables that are filling due to its higher protein content at 4 grams per serving. One cup also contains 4 grams of fiber making it a great go-to choice. I always like to keep a few bags of frozen broccoli in the freezer to roast as a quick side dish with my meal.

4. Carrots

Carrots have a lot of health benefits due to their beta carotene content. But when it comes to filling vegetables, these are a perfect choice with only 4 grams of fiber and 50 calories per serving. And since they are crunchy and sweet, you can curb your sweet tooth before filling up on chips and candy.

5. Brussels sprouts

Another protein-rich vegetable, Brussels sprouts contain 4 grams of protein per cup along with 6 grams of fiber. Plus, they have a high water content. Roast them with a little avocado oil for some healthy fats, and you have a snack that will keep you full until your next meal! 

6. Peas

For all the vegetables on this list, peas are some of the highest in protein with 8 grams per cup. That’s usually why a lot of plant-based protein powders are utilizing peas as their main protein source. Not only that, peas also contain higher levels of fiber and water that keep you feeling full for longer.

7. Celery

You might be surprised to find celery on the list of the top vegetables that are filling. However, since it's high in fiber and water while being low in calories, you can fill up without needing a lot of extra. Pairing celery alongside your meal or as a snack with some almond butter between meals will give you the bulk you need to keep going throughout your day.

8. Beets

Beets are another vegetable that are high in fiber and water that will keep you full. You can pickle beets, roast them, or make them into chips for a super versatile snack, meal, or addition to your plate.

9. Zucchini

With approximately 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, this vegetable will help keep you satisfied. I like to make zucchini noodles in the summertime when this vegetable is abundant as a filling base for whatever plant-based pasta my heart desires.

10. Parsnips

While not as high as some on this list, this root vegetable contains almost 2 grams of protein per cup in addition to being abundant in starch and fiber.

The relationship between snacking and meals

Many people ask me if snacking is bad. In general, snacking isn’t bad if you are listening to your body and eating when you are hungry. If you are mindlessly eating chances are you’re filling your body with extra calories from foods that aren’t the best - likely sugar and processed carbs.

Choosing to center your meals around vegetables that are filling as well as clean, whole food sources of healthy fats and protein, you’ll mitigate the need to snack between meals. But if you do find yourself hungry before your next meal, try roasting some of these vegetables that are filling with a little oil, salt, pepper, and garlic to fill your stomach.

Seeking help from a functional medicine doctor

Everyone’s biochemistry is unique, and what foods work for one person won’t always work for the next. If you are struggling with food allergies, sensitivities, cravings, or anything related to that nature, a functional medicine doctor can help you find the right diet for you. Constant cravings and hunger isn’t normal, so if you find that you are still dealing with these even after adding more of these vegetables that are filling into your diet, there might be more going on beneath the surface.

If you are ready to reclaim your health and reassess your dietary needs, schedule a telehealth consultation to learn more about how we can help you using functional medicine.

As one of the first functional medicine telehealth clinics in the world, we provide webcam health consultations for people around the globe.

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References:

  1. Fung, T.C., Vuong, H.E., Luna, C.D.G. et al. Intestinal serotonin and fluoxetine exposure modulate bacterial colonization in the gut. Nat Microbiol 4, 2064–2073 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-019-0540-4
  2. Miller, Andrew H, and Charles L Raison. “The role of inflammation in depression: from evolutionary imperative to modern treatment target.” Nature reviews. Immunology vol. 16,1 (2016): 22-34. doi:10.1038/nri.2015.5

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BY DR. WILL COLE

Evidence-based reviewed article

Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.

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Gut Feelings

Healing The Shame-Fueled Relationship
Between What You Eat And How You Feel