What You Really Need to Know About Fiber

Corn Fiber Might Increase Calcium Absorption in Females: Study

weight loss_061113Earlier this week, I took a look at how incorporating more protein into your healthy weight loss plan can help you lose weight and stay full and satisfied. There’s one other food category that many people turn to, to help them lose weight, and that’s fiber. Here’s what you need to know about how you can have a healthy loss plan and keep the weight off using fiber-rich foods.

Fiber-Rich Diet

Increase your fiber intake! Fiber has many nutritional benefits which include decreasing cholesterol, stabilizing your blood sugar levels, decreasing your risk of colon cancer, and relieving constipation. Additionally, studies have shown that it may play a beneficial part in maintaining a healthy weight loss in the long term.

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If you are male between the ages of 19-50, you should be consuming 38 grams per day and if you’re over 50, at least 30 grams per day. For females 19-50, consume at least 25 grams per day and women over 50 should have at least 21 grams per day.

Research has shown that most people will consume the same volume of food. So why not increase your fiber intake to help displace many of the unnecessary calories you are likely consuming?

Fiber can be the “miracle pill” we’ve all been looking for. It works in many ways:

  • Fiber can displace some of the calories consumed from the foods you are eating
  • Fiber requires you to chew more. This can slow down your eating, making you feel full faster, which can help with weight loss. Additionally, it increases saliva production and gastric secretions, leading to your stomach expanding and feeling full
  • Fiber decreases the absorption efficiency of the small intestine

By consuming fiber, you’re filling yourself up, preventing yourself from starving as well as overeating—important for a healthy weight loss plan. The hormones in your body let you know when you are hungry and when you are full. You can’t try to “trick” your body into thinking it’s not hungry. However, even if your body lets you know it’s full, with the abundance of food available, many people are likely to ignore what they’re body is telling them and overindulge, leading to large amounts of unnecessary calories being consumed—and this will obviously hurt your weight loss goals. Therefore, it takes time and effort to develop a healthy weight loss plan and to make sure it incorporates fiber-rich foods.

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Is the Type of Fiber Important?

One study found that in a randomized, double-blind, crossover study, participants consuming muffins with polydextrose (a soluble fiber used to increase fiber intake, replace sugar or reduce calories and fat content), were still quite hungry, since it had no effect on satiety. On the other hand, muffins made with resistant starches and corn bran had the greatest influence on increasing satiety—making them fuller and less likely to overeat later. Resistant starches are abundant in beans, lentils, green bananas, corn, yams, potatoes, pasta, brown rice, barley, or a flour replacement called Hi-Maize (a flour replacement or supplement).

A recent review article that covered 119 studies taking place since 2000 found that there was a significant relationship between high dietary fiber intake and decreased weight gain and waist circumference. Talk about exciting news for a healthy weight loss plan!

By increasing your fiber intake, through cereals and nuts, fruits and vegetables, then you are more likely to be able to maintain your healthy weight loss plan and prevent weight gain in the long run. Remember though, the type of food is important—don’t think that a whole grain cookie is okay just because it’s whole grain. Use your common sense and choose a healthier option such as a bowl of oatmeal cereal.

Lastly, compliance is critical. By increasing your fiber intake, you are already on the road to decreasing your hunger, satisfying your appetite and become satiated—all important factors to ensure a sustainable lifestyle change, especially if you want to lose weight.

Here are some great suggestions on the best weight loss foods that will get more fiber into your diet:

  • Breakfast Foods: Whole grains cereals such as oats, Fiber One, Kashi, All Bran; whole grain breads, bagels, and English muffins.
  • Lunch and Dinner Foods: Beans and lentils in soups, salads or sandwiches/wraps; whole grain breads; side dishes such as quinoa or bulgur. These foods will help you feel full and hopefully help you lose weight as well!
  • For part of any meal or snack: Berries (raspberries, strawberries & blueberries), fruits such as bananas and apples, vegetables (sliced tomatoes, salads, steamed artichokes or mixed vegetables), baked sweet potato with skin, add nuts, seeds or flaxseed on top of any salad or combine with a snack to add in extra fiber.

If you want to stick to a healthy weight loss plan, then incorporating more fiber into your diet is vital and necessary. Add these healthy foods to your diet to feel full longer, preventing you from overeating later down the road and also helping you lose weight—for good!

Sources:
Ajala, O., et al., “Systematic review and meta-analysis of different dietary approaches to the management of type 2 diabetes,” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013; 97:505-516.
Fogelholm, M., et al., “Dietary macronutrients and food consumption as determinants of long-term weight change in adult populations: a systematic literature review,” Food & Nutrition Research 2012; 56.
Palmer, S., “Fill in the Fiber Gaps — Dietitians Offer Practical Strategies to Get Clients to Meet the Daily Requirements,” Today’s Dietitian 2012; 14(4):40
Palmer, S., “Taking Control of Hunger — Lessons on Calming Appetite and Managing Weight,” Today’s Dietitian 2009; 11(4):28
Rebello, C., et al., “Dietary strategies to increase satiety,” Advances in Food and Nutrition Research 2012 69:105-182.
Weisenberger, J., “Resistant Starch — This Type of Fiber Can Improve Weight Control and Insulin Sensitivity,” Today’s Dietitian 2012; 14(9):22
Welland, D., “Lose Weight the High-Protein Weigh,” Today’s Dietitian 2010; 12(2):34