How Fiber Can Help With Weight Loss
All nutrients play an important role in helping our bodies function properly, but there's one that is often overlooked... fiber. That's probably because of all those funny ads that associate it with preventing and/or relieving constipation. All jokes aside, there is actually much more to dietary fiber than you might not know...
Like, did you know that fiber, in some cases, can actually help you burn body fat, keep your bad cholesterol low, and even lower your risk of diabetes? It's true, and the best thing about it is that fiber-rich foods are actually quite tasty – bran isn't the only option!
Whether you're trying to lose weight or not, fiber is definitely something you want to make sure you're eating enough of. In this article, we will be giving you all the details on fiber from why it's important to what fiber-rich foods you need to add to your grocery list!
What Is Fiber?
It is a type of complex carbohydrate that the body can't digest or absorb. Typically foods that contain fats, proteins, and/or carbs pass through your body and are broken down and absorbed. Fiber, on the other hand, passes somewhat intact through your stomach, small intestine, colon, and then out of your body.
There are two types of fiber that work differently in the body:
- Soluble: This type of fiber is commonly found in plants and dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. Soluble fiber helps sugars and fats enter your bloodstream at a slower rate in order to give you a steady supply of energy, it also helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.
- Insoluble: This type of fiber does not dissolve in water and is found in whole grains and some vegetables. This type of fiber is one that is associated with digestive health because it helps food pass through your digestive system and increases stool bulk which benefits those who struggle with constipation.
Both types are essential for a healthy balanced life, but if your main goal is weight loss then you need to make sure to get enough soluble fiber in your diet!
Why is fiber important?
Fiber is a very low glycemic food, meaning it doesn’t make your blood sugar spike. This is where most of its AMAZING qualities come from. The fact that it doesn't make your blood sugar spike makes it so that your body doesn't need to produce as much insulin - a fat making hormone. This means your body won't store as much fat and even helps curb insulin spikes!
Here are even more things to love about fiber...
- Helps maintain digestive health and regulate it: Insoluble fiber helps food pass through your digestive system by increasing the weight and size of your stool and softening it. Doing this decreases your chances of constipation. Preventing and relieving constipation is also important for your bowel health.
- Lowers cholesterol levels: High levels of bad cholesterol levels are linked to heart disease, but soluble fiber can help reduce your chances of that happening and can improve heart health. Certain foods (oats, beans, flaxseed) that are rich in soluble fiber help lower bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) levels which in turn can help lower the total blood cholesterol levels.
- Beneficial for your gut: Gut health plays important roles in various aspects of our health. The bacteria in our gut can affect our weight, inflammation, blood sugar control, immunity, and brain function. If you eat junk you'll have a lot of bad bacteria which causes negative health effects. One way to get more good bacteria in your gut is by eating soluble fiber. It provides the body with prebiotics which are substances that feed the good bacteria in the gut.
- Can help with weight loss: High-fiber foods digest slower than low-fiber foods like simple carbs, and although they tend to have fewer calories, they're actually extremely filling. This means you're likely to be satisfied longer and eat/snack less! Plus foods high in fiber are typically whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
How many grams of fiber do you need to eat per day?
The recommended daily intake according to the USDA, is 22-28 grams for women and 28-33 grams of fiber for men.
However, those who are actively working to gain muscle can eat up to 40 grams of fiber per day because your body will need it to process any whey protein in your system. Even if you do happen to eat a little more fiber than you're supposed to, the worst that can happen is a bit of gas and bloating which can quickly subside.
Foods high in fiber to add to your diet
As always, you should make sure that you get most, if not all, of your nutrients from whole foods. Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious, healthy foods that have a high fiber content.
Here are a few of the best fiber-rich foods...
- Apples: One has roughly 4-5 grams
- Avocado: 10 grams per cup
- Blackberries: 8 grams per cup
- Guavas: One has 3 grams
- Pears: One medium-sized pear has 5.5 grams
- Raspberries: 8 grams per cup
- Strawberries: 3 grams per cup
- Artichokes: One has 10.3 grams
- Broccoli: 2.4 grams per cup
- Brussels sprouts: 4 grams per cup
- Carrots: 3.6 grams per cup
- Cauliflower: One medium-sized cauliflower head has 12 grams
- Green beans: 4 grams per cup
- Sweet potatoes: Medium-sized, baked with the skin on has 5 grams
- Brown rice: 3.5 grams per cup
- Oats: 16.5 grams per cup
- Quinoa: 5.2 grams per cup
- Whole wheat bread: 3 grams per slice
- Black beans: 15 grams per cup
- Chickpeas: 12.5 grams per cup
- Lentils: 15.6 grams per cup
- Kidney beans: 11.3 grams per cup
- Split peas: 16.3 grams per cup
Not only are all these foods packed with fiber, but they are also a good source of vitamins, phytonutrients, healthy fats, and amino acids. All these are nutrients your body needs to function properly. The best way to make sure you're getting enough fiber in your diet is by incorporating some of these foods into every meal. You can make breakfast smoothies, or make side dishes like hummus or artichoke dip. Another good source of fiber can be found in nuts and seeds like almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds. So, you can even incorporate them into your snacks!
Make an effort to eat more fiber
As you can see now, fiber is very important, not only for weight loss! So, make sure you're getting enough of the foods listed above in your diet. Aim to eat roughly 30 grams of fiber a day to reap the wonderful benefits it offers... and if weight loss is your main goal, add some exercise in the mix and you'll be on the right track to accomplishing fitness goals 💪