And all of that restricting can seem punishing, and can make it difficult to keep a positive attitude. So, why not instead, consider focusing on increasing a nutrient? Most of us don’t eat enough fiber and increasing fiber has been found to help with weight loss.
Do you have an idea of how much fiber you eat in a typical day? Or, how much fiber you should be eating? Do you know what fiber really is? You may not have answers to all of these questions, and for good reason. FDA has just recently, for the first time, defined fiber in specific terms. The definition, along with a new recommendation for increasing how much fiber we should eat every day, were both included in revamping the Nutrition Facts Label.
FDA’s new definition, put simply, is that dietary fiber is non-digestible carbohydrate found in plant food and will be listed on the Nutrition Facts Label, if it is considered beneficial for health. If a fiber is added to a product but not considered beneficial (like soy fiber), than it can no longer be included as Dietary Fiber, but will be included as part of Total Carbohydrate.
Fiber is classified based on how soluble, viscous, or fermentable it is. Insoluble fiber does not mix with water. Soluble mixes with water and can be viscous or nonviscous. Viscous fiber forms a gel in the digestive tract. Fermentable fiber (referred to as prebiotics) is easily fermented in the colon by bacteria.
The new recommendation is that adults should include 28 grams a day. Some good tracking resources are: myfitnesspal.com app, nationalfibercouncil.org, www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-fiber-meter
So how does fiber help with weight loss?
Keeps us full longer, and staves off hunger. Some recent research shows that fiber in food lasts longer than fiber added to liquid, like in shakes.
Reduces inflammation and inflammation is related to obesity. Fiber seems to target belly fat specifically.
Feeds your microbiome and for some people, a healthy microbiome is associated with a healthy weight.
Other health benefits of fiber:
Lowers cholesterol and risk of heart disease
Reduces risk of colorectal cancer
Fewer intestinal diseases and problems
Reduces fatty liver
Reduces insulin resistance, so improves blood sugar control
Reduces blood pressure
Increases mineral absorption
Will fiber supplements help with weight loss?
The only fiber supplement shown to help with weight loss is glucomannan (extracted from the konjac root). It’s when all of the nutrients in foods work together, that you will get the most benefits. Taking nutrition supplements will never have the same effects. For this reason, getting your fiber from whole plant foods is optimum. So, eat 5-7 servings of fruits and veggies daily and at least 3 servings of whole grains. Consider including pulses (peas, beans or lentils) daily. Read your labels for fiber content.
If you’re planning to switch to a higher fiber diet, do it gradually to give your body time to adjust. If you add in too much, too fast, you can experience abdominal discomfort, cramps and diarrhea.
Also, drinking a lot of water is a must, to allow the fiber to move through your intestinal tract.
So, if your current weight loss program isn’t working for you, try counting fiber grams!