Satiety index post

How the satiety index makes fat loss easier

Calories are the most important thing when it comes to weight loss. But you want those calories to go as far as possible. The last thing you want, when losing weight is to be starving. This is where the satiety index comes into play.

Though calories matter, not all calories are equal when it comes to hunger and satiety.

A study n 1995 a study listed a bunch of foods to see which were the most filling. This list of foods is what we today, call the satiety index. (1)

People get so confused when wanting to know what to eat when to lose weight. What the satiety index does, is give you a list of foods, which will make losing weight easier.


What is the satiety index?

The scientists in this study wanted to know which foods made people feel most filled up.

  • The study analysed 38 different foods, they split the food into 6 groups
  • The 6 groups were (Bakery products, snacks, protein-rich foods, carbohydrates, breakfast cereals with milk, fruit)
  • They fed participants 240 calories worth, of one of the 38 foods
  • They checked Their levels of fullness in 15-minute intervals for 2 hours after eating
  • After 2 hours participants could eat what they wanted of certain foods provided. These foods included cereals, jams, vegemite, fruit cake, tea, biscuits, milk, orange juice and water

They compared satiety ratings were with white bread. White bread was the reference (white bread had a rating of 100%).


Order of foods on the satiety index

They used the foods, below on the list. They listed the foods in satiety order. Highest to lowest.

Satiety rankFoodPercentage satiety
1Boiled potatoes323%
2Ling fish225%
3Porridge/Oatmeal209%
4Oranges202%
5Apples197%
6Brown pasta188%
7Beef176%
8Baked beans168%
9Grapes162%
10Whole meal bread157%
11Grain bread154%
12Popcorn154%
13Eggs150%
14Cheese146%
15White rice138%
16Lentils133%
17Brown rice132%
18Honeysmacks132%
19All-Bran131%
20Crackers127%
21Cookies120%
22White pasta119%
23Bananas118%
24Jellybeans118%
25Cornflakes118%
26Special K116%
27French fries116%
28Sustain112%
29White bread100%
30Muesli100%
31Ice cream96%
32Crisps91%
33Yoghurt88%
34Peanuts84%
35Mars bar70%
36Doughnuts68%
37Cake65%
38Croissant47%

A table of foods used in the satiety index, listed in order.

What the results show

White boiled potatoes came out on top. I found this interesting as a lot of people tend to cut out potatoes. But I can attest, when I’m dieting, I tend to eat potatoes every day. They are so filling and you get so much for such few calories.

Croissants came out on the bottom. Which I didn’t find surprising. As great as they are, they are not filling at all.

There is a somewhat positive correlation between how processed a food is and where it’s likely to be on the chart.


Differences between groups

Despite the foods being similar within each group, there were some big differences.

The groups were:

  • Protein
  • Fruit
  • Carbohydrates
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Snacks
  • Bakery products

This shows; when choosing within groups there are better choices for satiety.


Protein

When it came to protein, Ling fish was the most filling. Studies have shown that white fish is more satiating compared to meat protein. (2)

When it came to all the proteins tested, they all seem to be more satiating compared to white bread.

While all protein is good, for satiety some choices have a stronger effect than others.

Satiety index of proteins

Carbohydrates

Though there is a wave of people that claim that carbs make you fat, this shows carbs are actually good for satiety.

This chart shows how important the cooking method is. Boiled potatoes are far more satiating then French fries.

Carbohydrates are good for weight loss. But it’s evident potatoes are most likely to give you the biggest bang for your buck.

satiety index of carbohydrates

Fruit

Another food group that gets a bad rap. This is due to the sugar within the fruit. But sugar alone doesn’t make you fat. Only when it puts you in a caloric surplus. (3)

But the reason fruit works so well is that it contains a high volume of water and fibre too. This slows down digestion, thus keeping you full for longer. (4)

Bananas were the least effective. I have noticed bananas don’t fill me up like the other fruits. I imagine this will be because they contain less water than the others.

satiety index of proteins

Breakfast cereals

The cereals were interesting. A lot of people will eat cereal first thing in the morning and there’s nothing wrong with that. But from a level of satiety, they may not be the best choices to keep you going until later, especially when dieting.

Honeysmacks seems to be the most satiating.

Yet, if you were looking to gain weight, for muscle growth. Nutritious cereal might be a good option.

satiety index of cereals

Snacks and confectionary

Usually, when looking to lose weight, in my humble opinion, it’s best to cut out the snacking. It’s usually peoples snacks that makes their calorie total add up.

But, some snacks are better than others. For instance, porridge is more satiating than the other snacks. In fact, it would be a better choice than any of the cereals.


The satiety index also shows that popcorn is more satiating than crisps. This doesn’t surprise me due to the amount of volume in a bag of popcorn and it being less fatty. So swapping crisps for popcorn may be a good strategy.

The chocolate bar is the least satiating snack. Due to its sugar and fat content, it’s low in volume and tasty, so you’ll be able to eat a lot of it without feeling full.

I found peanuts interesting, as they are also low on the satiety index. Though peanuts are full of nutrients. When looking to lose weight, it’s evident they aren’t the best foods to be eating. Due to the fat contained, they will be high in calories and low in volume, so not filling.

To caveat, they used salted peanuts in the study. Salt makes foods tastier, unsalted peanuts, might have been more filling.

Jellybeans were more satiating than I would have thought. If I was to make a guess, I would say due to the sickliness, the people weren’t so hungry after eating them.

satiety index of confectionary

Bakery products

Unfortunately for me, croissants scored the lowest. Though they are my favourite food on the whole list, that is no surprise. Though they are tasty, they are like eating fresh air. Same for doughnuts, which are my second favourite on the list.

Sadly for me, croissants scored the lowest. Though they are my favourite food on the whole list, that is no surprise. Though they are tasty, they are like eating fresh air. Same for doughnuts, which are my second favourite on the list.

Im surprised to see cookies being more filling than white bread. Again that may be due to sickliness.

Crackers are the most filling bakery product. But I imagine if you eat them with butter and cheese, they would be a lot less satiating. But hey, if you want a snack, a dry cracker, might be a good idea.

satiety index of bakery products

Satiety index findings

What the satiety index shows; is that foods higher in protein, fibre and water tend to be more satiating. Whereas foods low in all these, but higher in fat, sugar and salt tend to be the least satiating.

Foods higher in fibre tend to slow down the rate of digestion, thus keeping you fuller for longer. (4)

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. There’s some evidence suggesting, it releases hormones that help blunt appetite. Hence why it’s encouraged to consume more protein when losing weight. (5)

Water volume is another important factor, potatoes plenty of water, which adds volume. Whereas croissants are very dense. I wrote an article about energy density and how it can affect your food intake.

Foods high in fat, such as croissants and peanuts tend to be on the low end of the satiety index. This is not to say fat is bad, but fat is high in calories. So there’s some evidence saying fat won’t fill you up as much, thus you consume more calories, to feel as full.

As well as fat, it’s obvious tasty foods would be at the bottom. Foods that taste great are easier to consume. You’re enjoying it more so you will eat more of it.


Final thoughts

As someone who uses the satiety index for inspiration, I felt like it was right to write a piece on it.

When looking to lose weight, it’s such an easy way to make food choices, which will best help you with your goals. This is not to say this study was perfect and without flaws.

There is an argument that there is a greater variety of food these days. You can also say a 2-hour window may not have been long enough. Different people may feel hunger and fullness in other ways compared to this chart.

But for anyone looking to make a start, this study is a great place to base your meals off of.

Should you should only eat things high on the satiety index when losing weight? Of course not.

I love diet flexibility, you can still eat some cake, chocolate and croissants and lose weight.

No problem at all. But if you were to fit only these sorts of foods into your calories, which I see people try and do. You of course can lose weight, but you’re going to make your life a lot more difficult than necessary.

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