3 Key Components of a Balanced Meal
Have you ever eaten a meal and within 2 hours after eating you felt hungry or “snacky”?
This is such a common feeling for people who try to restrict calories and/or for those who are just following the wrong diet for their needs. If this sounds like you, let me first tell you - you’re definitely not alone. There’s a reason why this is happening and it has nothing to do with willpower or discipline.
In this article, you’ll learn exactly what to include in your meals to help keep you full and satisfied so you can make it until your next meal without wanting a snack.
Why is this important? Because the feeling of constant hunger is a sign that 1) your body is not being nourished with the proper foods and/or 2) there is an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.
Before continuing, it must be said that there are many reasons we choose to eat (that are both physical and emotional). The purpose of this article is to address 1 reason that is completely in your control. After learning the components of a balanced meal, you will be able to nix the mid-meal snacks. This will be very supportive of your metabolic health, digestion, and body composition.
Check out more interviews and articles from Marcus Martinez and Aaron Guyett in the blog
A balanced meal should include 3 main components: protein, fat, and fiber
- Adequate protein helps keep you full. When you eat protein, there are hormones released from your gut that tell your brain you are satiated. If you skip the protein, you may find yourself hungry within 2 hours after eating.
- Aim to include at least 1 palm size of protein at each meal (eg. 4-6oz of meat or tempeh).
- Including a portion of anti-inflammatory fats helps keep you satisfied. If you skip the fats, you may find yourself reaching for snacks shortly after a meal to try fill the gap of what your body feels it’s missing.
- Aim to include at least 1 thumb size of fat at each meal (eg. 1 tbsp olive oil or ½ avocado).
- Fiber adds bulk to a meal and activates stretch receptors in your stomach which will tell your brain you’re full. When it comes to carbs, if you skip the fiber, you may find yourself overeating (this is why it’s so easy to eat a whole bag of chips without feeling full).
- Aim to include at least 10g fiber at each meal through various whole food carbohydrate sources such as starchy and non-starchy veggies, legumes, and berries (seeds such as chia seeds are also a great source of fiber/anti-inflammatory fat).
So what can a meal including these 3 components look like?
- Example 1:
- Fajita bowl with
- Protein: 5oz Chicken
- Fiber: ½ cup beans, 1 cup cauliflower rice, 1 bell pepper,
- Fat: guacamole with ½ avocado
- Example 2:
- Smoothie with
- Protein: 5oz tofu or protein powder,
- Fiber: ½ cup blueberries, 1 handful spinach, 2 tbsp chia seeds,
- Fat: 1 tbsp almond butter
In addition to shutting off your hunger hormones and keeping you satiated for 4-5 hours after eating, the foods you eat within these 3 components can work together to support many functions in your body such as building/maintaining muscle, joint health, gut health, hormone health, detoxification, and reducing inflammation.
If you find yourself including protein, fat, and fiber in each meal yet still feeling constantly hungry or snacky, you’ll have to look a little deeper. We’ll uncover other factors of why this can happen in another article.
For now, your one implementable step should be this meal check-in:
- Do I have 1 palm size full of protein?
- Do I have 1 portion of anti-inflammatory fats?
- Do I have ~10g of fiber in the form of whole foods such as veggies, berries, and/or seeds?
Until next time! With Strength, Health & Gratitude,
Director of Nutrition & Master Coach
Check out more interviews and articles from Marcus Martinez and Aaron Guyett in the blog, or get full versions by subscribing to our membership here