Good news for those who struggle to stick to strict dietary regimes: simply increasing your fiber intake can help you lose (or maintain) weight without ever feeling hungry.
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According to studies, fiber prevents obesity by decreasing the body’s food intake.
Fiber helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and increases the body’s blood flow. According to a study by researchers of the University of Massachusetts, fiber may reduce the levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP), that is a marker for inflammation in the body linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Other studies confirm that a fiber-rich diet is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. This explains why these diseases are more prevalent in Western civilizations.
How Much Weight Can You Lose By Simply Increasing Fiber Content?
A new study by Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD and her team suggests that you can lose around 5 pounds in a year’s time by simply increasing your fiber intake.
During the study, one group of 240 people (all at risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes) were instructed to follow the strict diet guidelines as prescribed by the American Health Association (AHA). The other group could eat what they want as long as they increased their fiber intake to at least 30 grams a day.
The AHA diet guidelines were very specific, with 13 different components specifying one should consume at least 30 grams of fiber a day, eat only lean proteins, reduce salt and sugar intake, eliminate alcohol and balance cholesterol, protein, carbs and fat in a certain way. All these specifications made this diet a bit harder to stick to and the difference in weight loss wasn’t that big.
AHA followers experienced an average weight loss of 6 pounds after 12 months while the high-fiber group lost 4.6 pounds on average. In both groups, participants experienced improvements in their metabolic systems had a decreased insulin resistance and lower blood pressure.
How Fiber Helps Weight Management
Fiber improves satiation, decreases macronutrient absorption and alters the secretion of hormones in the gut. According to studies by Barbara Rolls, PhD, people consume about the same weight of food per day.
If you choose foods that are high in fiber and water, such as salads, fruits, vegetables and soups instead of foods that don’t contain as much fiber or water, you can eat the same weight in food, but take in fewer calories and still feel satisfied.
Fiber helps food to move through your digestive system more easily, scraping cholesterol and fat along the way, eliminating it from your system. The soluble fiber in high-fiber foods reduces the speed at which fats and sugars enter your bloodstream, giving a more steady supply of energy. Foods lacking fiber, on the other hand, tend to cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, which cause hunger and also lead to overeating.
How About Fiber Supplements?
It may seem tempting to keep eating the way you do and just buy fiber supplements in order to try to lose weight and be healthier, but it doesn’t work like that. A 2009 study compared how satisfied people felt after consuming an apple, applesauce and apple juice with added fiber.
Although the fiber content was roughly the same, the group who ate an apple before lunch consumed 15 percent fewer calories compared to the people in the apple juice and applesauce groups. Besides the fiber content, crunching on whole fruit takes longer to eat, stimulating your senses, with the brain signaling that you are satisfied. You simply don’t get the same effect from beverages, and the saliva created through chewing aids digestion and promotes the production of stomach juices.
Another argument against choosing fiber supplements is that your body needs the full package of nutrients. Wholegrains such as rice, rye, oats, barley and wheat contain not only fiber, but powerful antioxidants, selenium, zinc, vitamins and phytochemicals.
Tips On Increasing Your Fiber Intake:
- Start the day right with a breakfast of high-fiber cereal or oatmeal and fruit. Skip the glass of juice and eat whole fruits only.
- Replace all white grains (white rice, white bread, etc.) with whole grains and reduce your intake of carbohydrates.
- Snack on vegetables such as carrot and celery sticks, instead of potato chips.
- Increase your vegetable portions, making your veggies the main course instead of a side dish.
- Have salads for lunch in summer and thick soups in winter, and add beans to your dishes.
If your body is not used to a lot of fiber, increasing your fiber intake suddenly can cause gas, bloating and indigestion. Gradually increase the amount of fiber in your diet and always drink a lot of water.