Foods to Eat If You're Always Hungry

Foods to Eat if You’re Always Hungry
Courtesy of Getty Images

If you feel like you are always hungry, choosing foods that help you feel full for longer might help. While it's common to crave sugary foods, those are not likely to keep you full for long. To combat hunger, look for foods that provide protein and fiber. Both reduce hunger and increase meal satisfaction.

The best foods to eat if you are always hungry have more than one filling nutrient, such as legumes which contain healthy carbs, fiber, and protein. Another strategy is to eat high protein and fiber foods in combination, such as yogurt with berries and nuts.

Eat Lean Proteins

When you’re hungry between meals, it’s often because you’re not getting enough protein. Adding protein to each meal will help you combat hunger later in the day. Eating higher protein, less calorie-dense foods instead of higher fat foods will keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer and reduces the desire to eat more later in the day.

Protein also takes longer to digest since your body has to work harder to break it down. Always keep some protein-packed snacks nearby—bonus points if they’re also shelf-stable so you can keep them in your purse, car, and/or office drawer. Studies have found that protein makes people feel fuller than other nutrients.

  • Fish is an excellent source of protein (and healthy fats), but some people find it intimidating to prepare, and it's not portable. But tuna in cans and pouches makes eating fish easier. StarKist makes ready-to-eat pouches that are pre-seasoned and perfectly portioned. Tuna or salmon from a can or pouch is easy to toss on a salad, sandwich, or dish of whole-grain pasta.
  • Chicken breast, lean ground turkey, and lean ground beef can serve as the base for dozens of different meals. Cook up several batches without seasoning early in the week and your lunches and dinners for the week are halfway done.
  • Jerky is a great go-to emergency snack. It’s delicious, full of protein, and available in tons of flavors and varieties, including jerky made from turkey and chicken. You can even find soy-based vegan jerky. 
  • Greek yogurt also makes an excellent high-protein snack.
  • Eggs can be boiled up ahead of time for a quick snack. Or mix them up into an omelet with veggies for a healthy, filling start to your day.
  • Legumes such as black beans, chickpeas, and edamame are a plant source of protein that are a nutritionally dense source of energy. You can roast them for snacking, or add them to soups or salads.

Eat High-Fiber Foods

Fiber is an indigestible component of plant foods and helps add bulk to your meals, filling you up and slowing down digestion for lasting feelings of fullness. Fiber is satiating, and known to help with weight loss.

  • Berries are a terrific natural source of fiber. You can eat around 1 cup of raspberries or blackberries for about 64 calories, and that serving provides 8 grams of dietary fiber. Top fat-free Greek yogurt with berries for a mini-meal that's loaded with both protein and fiber.
  • Passion fruit is low in calories and high in vitamin C, and is one of the highest fiber fruits, containing 24 grams per cup.
  • Pears are excellent eaten out of hand, on top of yogurt, or in a salad. One medium pear provides 6 grams of fiber.
  • Avocados are known to be a good source of healthy polyunsaturated fats, but they're also high in fiber, containing 5 grams per half fruit. Avocados also contain pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin K, and copper.
  • Chickpeas or garbanzo beans contain 6 grams of fiber in a cup (cooked). They are also a good source of filling protein, as well as iron, potassium, and magnesium. Try them in hummus, salads, or soups.
  • Broccoli is high in fiber at 2.4 grams per cup. With only 6 grams of carbohydrates, a third of broccoli's carbs come from filling fiber.
  • Popcorn is a healthy snack, especially when air-popped at home. It contains 3.6 grams of fiber per cup with 18.6 grams of carbs and 3 grams of protein.

Bonus Filler-Upper: Water

One possible culprit for that nagging feeling of hunger is actually thirst. It’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger, so make sure you stay hydrated all day long. Steadily sip on that water bottle and you may find that your munchies go away.

Eat Complex Carbs

Adding foods with fiber and protein and avoiding those, such as refined grains, that have been stripped of their fiber but are high in simple carbohydrates (and sugars) will help you feel full. While quick-energy, starchy foods may be what you crave when feeling very hungry, they will not satisfy you for long.

A great option for filling up is to round out meals with low-calorie, high-volume veggies like spaghetti squash. High-volume foods take up more room in your stomach, which makes them satiating.

Foods that contain complex carbohydrates—like whole grains, beans, and green vegetables—are slow burners that give your body the sustaining energy it needs. Many of the foods already mentioned, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains, offer complex carbs along with protein and fiber.

  • Old-fashioned oats are a favorite source of whole grains. You can even make oatmeal while you sleep.
  • Spaghetti squash and zucchini can easily be turned into a base for pasta dishes. They are also perfect for sauteing or roasting. Zucchini is excellent on the grill in a kabob as well.
  • Sweet potatoes are a naturally sweet and delicious source of complex carbs with 26 grams per medium 130-gram potato. They are also high in vitamin A and potassium.
  • Whole-grain crackers, pasta, and bread are convenient sources of complex carbohydrates that offer more nutrition than their white, refined counterparts.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should you eat when you’re hungry at night?

    Choose a small serving of a filling food before bed. If weight loss is your goal, you may want to choose dairy foods that contain casein. Some evidence suggests that consuming foods with casein protein may help to improve your resting metabolic rate.

  • What should you eat when you’re hungry and trying to lose weight?

    If you're hungry, but have a weight-loss goal, choose meals and snacks that are lower in calories, but full of nutrients. Fiber-rich foods (like most fruits and vegetables) and lean proteins (chicken breast, tuna, etc) are great options.

  • What should you eat when hungry if you’re a vegetarian?

    If you follow a plant-based diet, you will still want to look for fiber-rich foods and foods with protein. Quinoa, whole grains, legumes, and tofu are good sources of plant based protein.

12 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ortinau LC, Hoertel HA, Douglas SM, Leidy HJ. Effects of high-protein vs. high- fat snacks on appetite control, satiety, and eating initiation in healthy womenNutr J. 2014;13:97. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-97

  2. Dhillon J. Craig BA, Leidy HJ, Amankwaah AF. The effects of increased protein intake on fullness: A meta-analysis and its limitations. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116(6):968-983. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2016.01.003

  3. Miketinas DC, Bray GA, Beyl RA, Ryan DH, Sacks FM, Champagne CM. Fiber intake predicts weight loss and dietary adherence in adults consuming calorie-restricted diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) study. J Nutr. 2019;149(10):1742-1748. doi:10.1093/jn/nxz117

  4. Raspberries, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  5. Passion fruit, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  6. Pear, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  7. Avocados, raw, California. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  8. Snacks, popcorn, air-popped. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  9. Squash, spaghetti, cooked, fat not added in cooking. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  10. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Complex carbohydrates.

  11. Sweet potato, raw, unprepared (Includes foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program). FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  12. Madzima TA, Melanson JT, Black JR, Nepocatych S. Pre-sleep consumption of casein and whey protein: Effects on morning metabolism and resistance exercise performance in active womenNutrients. 2018;10(9):1273. doi:10.3390/nu10091273

By Rachel MacPherson, BA, CPT
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.