Eating fiber may help you lose weight. Forget fad diets and counting calories. This is easier and, more importantly, a healthier way to slim down.
WHAT IS FIBER?
Fiber is the part of plants that human enzymes cannot break down. So, why do humans bother eating plants? Besides providing essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, fruits and vegetables also feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
HOW DOES FIBER HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and both play a role in helping people lose weight or maintain their healthy weight. How? By helping you feel full without the added calories and by helping maintain important bodily functions. (1)
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, breaking down into two different substances. Viscous, the thick, gel-like material, is specifically useful for lowering blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Viscous material is also metabolized (consumed) by the human’s beneficial bacteria and concerted into Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs), which the body uses as a fuel source.
One specific SCFA released upon the bacteria’s consumption of the fiber is acetate. Acetate is a molecule that signals the brain to stop eating! (2) SCFAs can also help decrease inflammation, growth of bad bacteria, and control appetite.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool, helping it pass easily and helping alleviate constipation. These fibers are also very filling, partly due to the release of acetate, and low calorie.
HOW MUCH FIBER DO I NEED?
Always speak with a healthcare professional when changing your diet, but the American Heart Association recommendation is a good place to start!
“ The FDA recommends 25 grams of fiber each day for a 2,000 calorie diet. Your need may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.” – Heart.org
THE DOWNSIDE: FLATULENCE AND BLOATING
If your body isn’t used to getting enough fiber, you may experience some minor bloating or flatulence. Try adding fiber slowly to allow the body to get used to it.
NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS
These side effects (flatulence and bloating) tend to go away after a week or two! And, when you look at all the benefits fiber gives you, a few temporary side effects are probably worth it.
- Miketinas, D. C., Bray, G. A., Beyl, R. A., Ryan, D. H., Sacks, F. M., & Champagne, C. M. (2019). Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study. The Journal of nutrition, 149(10), 1742–1748. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxz117
- Whole Grains, Refined Grains, and Dietary Fiber. (2016). Retrieved June 19, 2020, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/whole-grains-refined-grains-and-dietary-fiber