Adding more fiber to your diet can help you subtract those extra pounds. Fiber is vital to any weight loss regimen, as it helps you feel fuller for longer and promotes proper elimination. Despite fiber’s myriad of benefits, many people fall woefully short of the recommended intake guidelines. Increase fiber intake slowly to avoid side effects. Fiber should not overshadow the importance of other healthy diet components and exercise in achieving your weight loss goals.
The Fullness Factor
Soluble fiber is found in oats, barley, nuts, beans, carrots and apples. One of the primary benefits of soluble fiber is that it fills you up and satisfies your appetite for a longer period of time. By keeping away hunger pangs, a fiber-rich diet makes it easier to deny unhealthy food cravings and avoid junk food binges. High-fiber snacks like apples offer a nice energy boost, allowing you to exercise longer without feeling fatigued.
Insoluble fiber is found in vegetables and whole grains. This form of fiber encourages the efficient elimination of stool from the body. Insoluble fiber increases the speed at which food is processed through the digestive system and helps bulk up your stool. Eating enough fiber helps prevent the sluggishness associated with constipation, giving you the energy to enjoy calorie-burning physical activity. Fiber also aids in ridding the body of excess fat which binds with stool in the digestive system.
Boosting Fiber Intake
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that women consume a minimum of 25 grams of fiber daily and men consume a minimum of 38 grams daily. Consume fiber-rich whole foods like fruit, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Try including a fiber-rich food at each meal, such as oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich on whole-grain bread for lunch and a lean protein with steamed vegetables for dinner. Eat a piece of fruit for a fiber-rich snack. Increase fiber consumption over a period of a few weeks to reduce the risk of gas, bloating and stomach cramps.
Things to Consider
In addition to increasing fiber intake, a successful weight loss regimen should feature high-protein and low-sugar foods. A regular routine of aerobic and strength training exercises is just as important as diet when it comes to weight loss goals. Beware of high-fiber foods like cereals that may have added sugar, which tacks on empty calories. Try to obtain fiber through natural sources, as fiber supplements can cause gastrointestinal issues. Drink at least 8 cup of fluids daily when eating fiber-rich foods to facilitate the passage of fiber through your digestive system.
References & Resources
- MedlinePlus: Fiber
- Los Angeles Times: Dr. Joseph J. Colella on Fiber’s Role in Weight Loss
- Woman’s Day: 12 Foods to Eat for Energy
- Vegetarian Times: Ask The Nutritionist: How Much Fiber Do I Really Need?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 (page 41)
- University of Illinois: Fiber in Food