Finding the right healthy diet for you can be a little frustrating, especially when you have a weight loss goal. As a follow up post to Bindu’s article on fiber-rich chia seeds, here’s registered and licensed dietitian, Betsy, informing us on fiber and how it factors into our weight loss efforts!
Dietary fiber is great tool that you can use for weight loss as it is something that will fill you up without filling you out. Hunger sensation is the result of the signal that the stomach sends to the brain when it is empty and fullness is when the stomach sends the signal saying it is full.
Consuming a diet high in fiber has shown to be very beneficial. Meeting dietary fiber goals daily has shown to reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Certain types of fibers are also beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels.
Dietary fiber is classified into soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fibers include viscous and fermentable fibers such as pectin. These fibers are fermented in the colon and it binds the cholesterol and removes it from the body. Insoluble fibers have bulking action and not completely fermented in the colon. These promote regularity of the gastro-intestinal system.
Fiber and Feeling of Fullness
Studies have shown that people eat the same amount of food to feel full. Eating a meal high in fiber and water-rich foods will provide fewer calories as compared to eating a similar portion of food with high carbohydrate or fat content. Therefore, if you choose foods high in fiber such as vegetables or whole grains you will feel fuller faster and save on some calories.
A 2009 study in the journal Appetite compared the fullness factor of apples, applesauce and apple juice with added fiber before lunch. People who ate an apple before lunch ate 15 percent fewer calories than those who ate the applesauce or drank apple juice. This suggests that the fiber in the whole apple was more filling even when compared to the juice that had added fiber. Also, the chewing of the apple took longer sending fullness signals to the brain.
Sources of Fiber
Fiber is a plant product. Therefore, fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber. Whole grains like wheat, oats, barley and millet are also good sources of fiber. Beans and nuts also contain fiber. In short, any plant product that has not been refined and processed and is consumed in its whole state will provide fiber.
Fiber keeps you feeling full for longer and promotes satiety. Natural sources of fiber are more compatible for body than fiber capsules. If you must take fiber supplement, a powder fiber supplement is better choice than in the pill form.
Adding Fiber to Diet
Add fiber slowly to your diet so your body can get used to it and prevent bloating and gas. Drink plenty of fluids while adding fiber. Try these tips for adding more low-calorie foods to your meal plan to boost fiber while keeping calories in check:
- Choose whole fruits instead of fruit juices or processed fruits.
- Choose vegetables for snacks.
- Have at least 2 servings of vegetables each meal. Make sure your plate is filled half with greens.
- Choose non-starchy vegetables to keep the calories in check.
- Choose broth based soup rather than creamy soups.
- Start your day with a high fiber cereal or whole grain toast. Add a fruit and a low fat dairy to round off your hearty breakfast.
- Enjoy beans and nuts. But beware of the portion sizes.
- Make all your grains whole and limit them to a few servings each day.
Remember, that fibers alone will not take off the pounds. Fiber along with a well-balanced, low calorie meals and exercise will help you stay on track of your weight loss goal. Controlling or maintaining your weight is a lot easier with a diet rich in fiber.
About the Author
I usually add ground flax seed to my morning smoothies to get more fiber in my diet, and if I’m having digestive upset in the form of constipation, I drink a glass of water with a teaspoon of psyllium husk. Do you have any fiber-increasing tips of your own to share?