Do you usually still feel hungry after eating your last meal of the day? That may be because you’re not eating the right foods that keep you full! Yes, there are particular dinner foods that keep you full for the rest of the evening—all it takes is making sure those foods are on your plate.
In order to determine what those are, we spoke with registered dietitians and other nutrition experts regarding the best dinner foods that keep you full. The key thing to remember? Eat a good amount of whole foods, and make sure to add the most important three elements to your meal: protein, fiber, and healthy fat.
“I think it’s important to note that if you’re getting to dinner feeling ravenous and relying on your dinner to ‘extra-fill’ you, then you may want to consider eating more during the day,” Lexy Penney, MS, RD, LDN, RYT, and owner of Lexy Penney Nutrition and Wellness. “If you’re going long periods of time without eating, you may feel a lot of pressure to have a super filling dinner which makes complete sense! If we under-eat during the day, we may overeat at night.”
“Dinner should consist of whole foods,” says Talia Segal Fidler, MS, HHC, AADP from The Lodge at Woodloch. “Whole foods are unprocessed real foods in their natural state. Whole foods were designed by nature to keep you at a healthy weight and nourish you with all the vitamins and minerals you need. You will feel satisfied and well-nourished and will not tend to over consume these types of foods. A good combination of protein, healthy fats, and a small amount of carbohydrates are the perfect way to design a balanced meal.”
Here’s a full list of the dinner foods that keep you full, according to dietitians. And for more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
“Because it is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon—and other fish—is a yes-yes food when it comes to increasing satiety and nutrient intake,” says Rima Kleiner, MS, RD, and blogger at Dish on Fish. “Recent research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids may help people who are overweight or obese feel fuller. And, fish in general just may help you feel satisfied and fuller longer than other proteins, like eggs and beef, according to another study.”
For more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, check out our list of 26 Best Omega-3 Foods to Fight Inflammation and Support Heart Health.
“Shrimp may also promote increased feelings so satiety,” says Kleiner. “Eating shrimp appears to decrease appetite by stimulating the production of CCK—a hormone that signals your stomach that you’re satisfied. Plus, shrimp and other shellfish contain zinc and selenium, two important minerals for immune health and increased energy. As with other healthful foods, opt for baked, sautéed, steamed, grilled, or boiled shrimp with sauces and dips on the side for the biggest nutrient bang.”
Or try one of these 25 Healthy, Protein-Packed Shrimp Recipes.
“When we think about ‘fullness’ we should consider protein and fat,” says Penney. “These are the macronutrients that have real filling power because they are digested the slowest, whereas carbohydrates are digested the fastest. So you may find yourself still super hungry and unsatisfied if your meal doesn’t also have some protein and fat to keep you feeling full. In order to feel more satisfied and full with your dinner, consider adding a source of protein and/or fat. For example, add some chicken sausage (protein) to your pasta or avocado (fat) to your salad.”
“Cooked, skinned potatoes are a good foundation of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium,” says Shannon Henry, RD from EZCare Clinic. “Compared to other high-carb foods, potatoes are very filling.”
“Dinner foods that will help you feel full contain a combination of protein, healthy fat, and fiber,” says Lisa R Young, PhD, RDN and author of the book Finally Full, Finally Slim. “A perfect example is grilled salmon (which contains heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids), a baked sweet potato or roasted sweet potato (which contains healthy carbs and is full of fiber and nutrients) and a side of sautéed veggies like bok Choy or broccoli (rich in fiber and antioxidants.)”
No wonder eating potatoes is considered The #1 Dinner Hack That Will Change Your Life!
“Sautéed veggies are super healthy but if you use a cup of olive oil, it’s too much,” says Young. “Best to stick with 1 to 2 tablespoons for 1 to 2 people.”
“Full of fiber and water, vegetables can help fill your belly for [fewer] calories,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook. “Get in as many colors as you can as each color packs a different nutrient group. The goal is to make half your plate veggies at mealtime. Then if you are hungry, go back for more veggies!”
Here are the 18 Healthiest Vegetable Side Dishes.
“Chicken, turkey, fish, beef, pork, and tofu for plant-based foods are all high-quality proteins,” says Goodson. “Protein helps you get full faster and stay full longer after a meal. The goal is to make about 1/4 of your plate protein at dinner time.
Here are the Best Forms of Lean Protein You Can Eat.
“Fill half your plate with vegetables to get a big fiber boost with the least amount of calories. Fiber keeps you satisfied longer after meals,” says MyNetDiary’s Registered Dietitian and MS, Brenda Braslow. “I would propose including whole grains like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, or barley so the fiber can help you stay satisfied longer. Quinoa is both high in fiber and protein so is especially great to keep you full longer. These whole-grains will keep you satisfied longer than refined carbs, such as white rice and pasta.”
“The best foods you can add to your dinner plate to help keep you full are the ones full of fiber and protein,” says Megan Byrd, RD from The Oregon Dietitian. “If making pasta, try to find a pasta noodle that has 4 to 5 grams of fiber and more protein than traditional pasta. Normally, these noodles are made from lentils or chickpeas, but you can hardly taste the difference!”
“If you’re making a salad, make sure to add a protein like grilled chicken or fish, and lots of fiber,” says Byrd. “Salad toppings like ground flaxseed, avocado, beans, and most veggies all have a ton of fiber in them, and help to keep you full in the evenings. By focusing on protein and fiber in the evenings, you set yourself up for feeling full and not snacking as much at night.”
You could even try mixing up one of these 35+ Healthy Salad Recipes!
“One of my favorite foods to add to dinners for satiety are sweet potatoes,” says Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN of Bucket List Tummy. “Firstly, they are a great fiber source. A medium sweet potato baked in the skin provides 4 grams of fiber, which helps with satiety and the feeding of fullness. Sweet potatoes can also provide a savory or sweet flavor, based on personal preference, which can enhance satisfaction at a meal. Lastly, they provide several antioxidants and other nutrients for overall health, such as potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E.”
Did you know that potatoes are considered one of the best Expert-Approved Appetite Suppressants?
“An often-overlooked food that can keep you feeling full at dinner is beans,” says Theresa Gentile, MS, RDN, Owner of Full Plate Nutrition. “Beans are a great combination of protein and fiber, which keeps you feeling fuller longer. Beans are also a great source of resistant starch (it passes through the digestive tract mostly unchanged), so the good bacteria in the intestines feed off it. This keeps you feeling full and keeps blood sugar levels stable, preventing those sugar-cravings swings.”
“Foods that contain lots of fiber are also great foods to incorporate to help you feel full,” says Fidler. “Fibrous foods tend to provide volume and take longer to digest. Legumes are a great way to incorporate a whole food with loads of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals that really sticks with you.”
“High-protein, such as lean meats, are very filling,” says Henry. “For example, beef can have a powerful effect on satiety index food. It scores 176 on the satiety index, which is the second-highest of the protein-rich foods, right after fish.”
“Studies have shown grass-fed beef has lower levels of saturated fat compared to traditional grain-fed beef,” says Mackenzie Burgess, RDN and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices. “The current dietary guidelines recommend limiting saturated fat ‘to less than 10% of calories per day’ to promote heart health. Grass-fed beef also provides substantial protein, which helps us feel fuller longer. I like to use Teton Waters Ranch products because they are 100% grass-fed and certified humane. Try making the easiest sheet pan jambalaya by combining protein-packed beef sausage, colorful veggies, and rice for a satisfying dinner.”
You can even try cooking up one of these 37+ Best Healthy Ground Beef Recipes!
“Liquids have often been considered to be less filling than solid foods, although the evidence is mixed,” says Henry. “However, soups are a bit different. Research shows that soups may actually be more filling than solid meals containing the same ingredients.”
“Add extra beans and/or lentils to soups and stews,” says Braslow. “The very high fiber content will make the meal last longer.”
Try yourself with one of these 26 Best Flat-Belly Soups Ever!