Optimizing Nutrition with Low-Calorie Vegetables

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In this installment from my ‘Ask Me Anything’ series, which you can find on my social media channels, I delve into the topic of optimizing nutrition with low calorie vegetables…

“For fat loss purposes: I’ve found lean protein to be very satiating, but veggies not so much at all. I can’t afford lean protein to last that long through the month. Are there any particular veggies or strategies you know of that make veggies more satiating and stop cravings until the next meal?”

This is such an excellent example of individuality. I have the exact opposite problem that you describe. I can eat absurd amounts of lean protein before satiation kicks in, so I need to base my diet around high-volume, low-calorie fibrous vegetables to curb my appetite.

Three things come to mind for your situation.

First, I’m wondering if your fat is too low. In my experience with myself and my clients, pushing fat too low can disrupt appetite and cause hunger to persist after eating. I tend to never go below 40 grams of fat when dieting and typically keep it around 60-70 grams to feel my best. If you eat 3-4 meals per day, that ends up being 10-20 grams per meal.

Second, what does your carbohydrate intake look like, and from what foods? While we do want to ensure relatively stable blood sugars throughout the day, maximizing satiety also mandates some level of insulin signaling because it acts as a powerful satiety hormone within the brain (similar to leptin).

Third, how many veggies are you eating and what kind? Most people, in my experience, think they are eating a lot of veggies when they really aren’t. They might have a cup of vegetables with a meal, which is a good starting point, but definitely not ideal for satiation purposes. Rather, the focus should be on basing entire meals around veggies (and protein). I personally eat at least 3 pounds of vegetables and fruits per day.

As an aside, I’ve looked at enough micronutrient tests to know that most people aren’t optimizing their cellular health without ample veggies, even if they think they are eating a healthy diet. These are the richest sources of most micronutrients, and my labs always come back phenomenal in regards to micronutrient testing, so I have to believe that this way of eating is ideal.

For those interested, smart vegetable choices where calories are 20-30 per 100 grams are as follows: Asian greens, cucumber, celery, radish, lettuce, summer squash, chard, zucchini , bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, mustard greens, mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes.⁣

I point to spinach and cabbage in the video because their micronutrient profiles are fantastic, and nutrient density is a big help for satiation too.⁣

Hope that helps!

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