10 Foods That Make You Hungry Faster
When you sit down at certain restaurants or dinner parties, you’re often greeted by a basket of bread, chips, or a cheese plate. Why? Because these types of foods are designed to pique your appetite, priming you for the upcoming delightful meal. While many are concerned about filling up before the main event hits the table, these foods have been found to do little to diminish the desire to eat more. In fact, there’s a surprising variety of foods that make you hungry faster.
Most of the time, though, these foods aren’t eaten at the start of the meal. Instead, they’re consumed for an afternoon snack, quick lunch, or breakfast that’s supposed to fill you up and keep you going for at least a few hours. So, foods that make you hungry can add extra calories to your diet that your waistline and health could really do without.
10 Foods That Make You Hungry Faster
1. Chips and Other Salty Snacks
Whether potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, or crackers, these easy-to-overconsume snack foods provide plenty of salt (an average of 170 mg per serving), which can make you thirsty. Unfortunately, it’s very common to confuse hunger for thirst. What’s more, because salty snacks are low in fiber or nutrition in general, they can lead you to keep going for more yet never really fill you up.
What to eat instead: Skip the non-filling but calorie-loaded chips and choose baked sweet potato fries or fiber- and nutrient-rich kale or parsnip chips instead. When made at home, you can control the amount of sodium too.
Another filling option that provides a great nutrient boost is sliced carrots, cucumber, or zucchini, which pair well with healthy dips like cucumber dill, roasted red pepper, mango guacamole, or creamy Mexican.
2. Snack Bars Made with Artificial Sweeteners
Non-calorie artificial sweeteners provide the sweet taste but not the actual sugar reward. Even though your taste buds may be deceived, your belly often isn’t, and you’re left craving the real thing.
What to eat instead: Instead of choosing artificial anything—whether soda, snack bars, or candies—choose real, whole foods instead. For example, snack bars or protein energy balls made with whole oats, nuts, and fruits can provide a filling snack that really will keep you running until dinner. Choose one that provides at least three grams of fiber and three grams of protein while keeping the calories in check for long-lasting energy.
3. White Pasta
Unlike whole-grain pastas, white pastas are made with bleached-out, nutrient-stripped grains. Without the filling fiber, it’s easier to eat that large calorie-laden plate of pasta followed by seconds or even thirds. You aren’t a bottomless pit, but it can feel that way when you’re staring at a large plate of pasta.
What to eat instead: Choose whole-grain pastas, such as those made with millet, buckwheat, quinoa, or amaranth; vegetable pasta alternatives like spaghetti squash or zoodles; or bean pastas made with chickpeas, black beans, or lentils instead. All come with a good dose of fiber to fill you up. Plus, depending on the variety, they may also increase the protein content of your meal.
4. Boxed Cereals
Combine a grain with the fiber stripped away with a sugar bomb and a dash of thirst-inducing sodium, and what do you get? Foods that make you hungrier! For many, it’s tempting to skip the small bowl altogether and just consume the entire box. Even if you have just one small serving, because boxed cereals are made up of refined grains and sugars, they’re digested and absorbed quickly. That means they spike blood sugar, which is followed quickly by a crash that leaves you feeling ravenously hungry long before lunchtime.
What to eat instead: Skip the boxed cereal and choose unsweetened old-fashioned or steel-cut oats instead. For a more filling option, top with nuts and some cut-up fruit. What if you just really want cereal? Choose options that provide less than 9 grams of sugar per serving and pair them with foods that actually fill you up. For example, sprinkle your cereal over Greek yogurt, perhaps with a scoop of a quality protein powder stirred in. You’ll get the flavor you’ve missed but will also enjoy the longer-lasting energy to power through your day.
5. White Breads
While bread is good for filling you up quickly, it typically doesn’t provide long-lasting energy. This is true of most baked goods made with refined flour, such as donuts, croissants, and bagels. Once again, this is because much of the fiber has been stripped, leaving a food that spikes blood sugar, which raises insulin levels, which leads to a blood sugar crash. In other words, shortly after you just ate, you’re hungry again!
What to eat instead: You don’t need to give up all bread and baked goods. Instead, choose those made with whole grains rather than refined flour as it’s higher in fiber and other energy-promoting nutrients. Better yet, add in a healthy protein such as an egg, sliced chicken breast, or hummus.
6. Low-Fat Yogurt Cups
It’s tempting to believe all the advertising that tries to convince us that low-fat yogurt cups are a super healthy and filling option. Unfortunately, low-fat or fat-free yogurts often use sugar to overcome the change in texture caused by removing the fat. Some brands can have up to 20 grams of sugar per serving. Again, that big dose of sugar can cause a big energy spike followed by a crash and the desire for something to fill the hunger void soon after.
What to eat instead: Ignore the low-fat version and choose those lower in sugar instead. The full-fat versions are creamier and provide longer-lasting energy. Plus, the extra fat allows you to absorb more of the vitamin D naturally found in yogurt. If you want to tone down the tang of plain yogurt, try adding your own fruit, such as berries or a sliced banana. You could also stir in your favorite flavor of protein powder and top with some nuts, oatmeal, or granola for a fulfilling, nutrient-rich snack.
7. Store-Bought Granola Bars
They look so healthy, but many granola bars are as high in sugar as a candy bar. All that sugar acts as an appetizer, making you even hungrier between 30 and 90 minutes after you consume that bar.
What to eat instead: Granola bars can be great grab-and-go snacks. Just choose those that are higher in fiber and low in sugars, especially refined sugars. There are some brands available—just read the labels carefully. Or, better yet, make your own. Just remember it’s a snack, not a meal, so you’ll want to eat a balanced meal within a couple of hours. Or combine the healthier granola bar with a high-protein food such as a protein shake or nut butter.
8. Rice Cakes
Another common “diet food” is rice cakes. They’re crunchy, light, and low-calorie. As such, though, they aren’t going to fill anyone up.
What to eat instead: If rice cakes are a go-to snack, there’s no reason to give them up. Just top them with a high-protein food like hummus, cottage cheese, or nut butter, so they have more staying power. This simple addition can transform them into a much healthier and more satisfying option.
Alternatively, choose air-popped popcorn, which has more volume to fill you up. Plus, this fiber-rich, filling, yet low-calorie snack is easy to personalize by adding your favorite seasonings.
9. High-Sugar Treats
It can be difficult to keep your fingers out of the cookie or candy jar, especially when faced with hunger pangs. But these sugary treats only lead to more cries from the belly to eat. Worse, they can heighten cravings.
What to eat instead: Cookies, candies, and cakes are treats—they aren’t designed to beat hunger. If you’re looking for something sweet that will provide longer-lasting energy, choose a piece of fruit instead.
10. French Fries
Loaded with refined fat and high in sodium, French fries transform a highly satiating food into the opposite. Combine with the high sugar (in the form of high fructose corn syrup) found in most ketchups, and you get a double whammy.
What to eat instead: Enjoy your potatoes, just have them boiled or baked instead. Boiled and cooled potatoes are loaded not only with vitamins but also provide a type of fiber called resistant starch that has been shown to help people eat even fewer calories!
No matter what food you choose, if you only have a small portion, especially right before a meal, it’s likely to stimulate your appetite or crank up your cravings. So, instead of choosing to munch on foods that make you hungry faster, it can help to eat a bit more of something that’s actually going to fill you up and fuel your energy levels for hours.