No nutrient is a miracle substance that will melt unwanted pounds off your body . . . but fiber is pretty close. By adding more of it to your diet, you may feel fuller, eat fewer total calories and lose body fat. However, too much fiber can be problematic. For optimal health and weight loss, make gradual adjustments, choose whole-food fiber sources and keep your total daily fiber intake between 25 and 45 grams a day (unless otherwise advised by your doctor).
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is indigestible by humans — but it’s still very important to eat. Dr. Melina Jampolis, physician nutrition expert for CNN, writes in a CNN article that fiber can improve bowel health and regularity, boost colon health, improve blood sugar control, reduce the calorie density of your overall diet and even reduce risk of death from any medical cause. Most Americans get less than half of the amount of fiber they need for optimal health, which is 25 grams daily for women and 38 grams daily for men.
Relating to Weight Loss
In 2005, an article in the journal “Nutrition” reported that fiber intake has an inverse relationship with body weight and body fat mass. The research team at the University of Minnesota that conducted the review stated that increasing your fiber intake is likely to decrease your total food intake and is “a critical step” in lowering obesity risk. Why is fiber so effective for weight loss? The answer might have to do with its ability to fill you up. According to a 2007 article published in “Nutrition Bulletin,” most subjects following low-calorie diets report feeling more satisfied and less hungry as time goes on when their meals contain greater amounts of fiber.
The healthiest fiber sources are whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, oats, brown rice and other whole grains, but boosting your food or beverages with a fiber powder supplement can also be beneficial when it comes to increasing your overall intake. Much of the fiber in fruits and veggies hides out in their skin, so avoid peeling when possible and practical. You can get 38 grams of fiber daily by eating 1 cup of bran cereal, 1 cup of canned kidney beans, 1 cup of fresh raspberries, one sweet potato, 1 ounce of almonds and two slices of whole-wheat bread.
While upping your fiber intake can help you lose weight, increasing it too rapidly or getting too much of the nutrient can potentially cause health issues. Quickly adding lots of fiber to your diet may block your GI tract or cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. Eating too much fiber on a long-term basis may result in nutrient deficiencies or improper mineral absorption, especially if you don’t make an effort to include items from all food groups in your diet. Before you make any significant changes to your diet or nutritional plan, talk them over with your doctor.
References & Resources
- Columbia University: Benefits of Eating Fiber
- Hungry Girl: Wednesday Newsletter
- CNN.com: What Exactly Does Fiber Do?
- Nutrition: Dietary Fiber and Body Weight
- Nutrition Bulletin: Dietary Fibre and Satiety
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fiber – Essential for a Healthy Diet
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Cereals, Ready-to-Eat, Bran Flakes, Single Brand
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Beans, Kidney, All Types, Mature Seeds, Canned
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Raspberries, Raw
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Sweet Potato, Raw, Unprepared
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Nuts, Almonds
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Bread, Whole-Wheat, Commercially Prepared