When it comes to losing weight, food choices will make or break you. A high-fiber diet is recommended for numerous reasons, ranging from promoting intestinal health to keeping blood sugar levels stable. If you are currently fighting the weight loss battle, getting adequate fiber in your diet may be a useful weapon in your arsenal.
Fiber and Weight Loss Overview
Fiber in and of itself does nothing to make you lose weight. It will not increase your metabolism or help your body eat up extra fat or anything like that. Instead, eating a fiber-rich diet will offer indirect benefits that will aid in successful weight loss. The following will discuss some of those benefits.
Your body is constantly sending all sorts of signals that influence our behavior and choices. One such signal is that your body has had enough food and that you are full. The problem is, many of us are eating so quickly that by the time the signal registers, we have eaten way more than we would have needed to feel full and satisfied. Fiber-rich foods are hearty and take longer to chew. The added time it takes to consume them allows that signal to register before you have stuffed yourself to the max, trying to satisfy your hunger.
According to WebMD, eating fiber-rich foods with meals has been shown to reduce the total number of calories consumed. Other studies have found that eating high-fiber foods at breakfast, in particular, have been correlated with reduced body weight.
Greater Satisfaction with Fewer Calories
Fiber-rich foods are considered low energy density foods, meaning there are fewer calories in larger portions. High energy density foods have a lot of calories in a small serving. When it comes to weight loss, you want to eat lots of low energy density foods, and fiber-rich foods fit the bill perfectly. Eating a high-fiber diet allows you to avoid that deprived feeling that can derail our weight loss goals because you can eat more food while keeping your calories in check. Because you will feel fuller, you will reduce the urge to eat unhealthy snacks between meals and will eat less overall throughout the day.
Fiber is present in all plant foods, but the amounts can vary greatly. Brans of all kinds are excellent choices for cereal—one serving can contain anywhere from 6 to 22 g of fiber per serving. Beans are also a great choice, and they have the added benefit of being rich in protein, another nutrient that increases feelings of satiety. One cup of most beans will provide anywhere from 14 to 18 grams of fiber per serving. When it comes to fruits, berries are your best bet; other good choices include oranges, apples, pears, bananas, and peaches. Top vegetables include squash, peas, dark leafy greens, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts and avocado. Nuts and seeds are high and are also a great source of vegetable protein. When it comes to your grains, always choose whole over-refined.
If you are following a typical Western-style of eating, there is a good chance you are not getting enough fiber in your diet. The requirements vary by age and gender. Men 18 to 50 should aim for at least 38 grams daily, while men 51 and older should shoot for at least 30. Women up to age 50 should have at least 25 grams a day while anyone more aged should get at least 21. If you need to bump up your fiber intake, do it gradually to minimize effects like gas and bloating that can result from your body adjusting to the increased consumption.
Not only will eating fiber-rich foods aid in your weight loss efforts, but it will also improve your overall health as fiber-rich foods are healthy foods packed with all the nutrients your body needs for optimal functioning. Since the benefits of fiber for weight loss are based heavily on consuming foods, you want to focus most of your efforts to increase intake here and not through supplements, which may be more useful for other health conditions related to low fiber intake, such as constipation. Losing weight can be a challenge, and if your diet needs acute rehab, remember to start slowly as gradual change has a higher chance of success.