Eating Right: Fiber and Weight Loss
If you are looking to shed a few pounds and want some help losing weight, make sure that you are eating foods high in fiber. Dietary fiber is not a magic weapon for losing weight, however it does have many benefits including filling you up, without filling you out.
Eating healthy high-fiber foods increases satiety and makes you feel full longer. A diet with an adequate supply of fiber will help you to resist eating more than you need. Fibrous foods also can take longer to chew, giving your brain time to get the signal that you have had enough to eat. Chewing also promotes saliva and the production of stomach juices that help fill the stomach.
Studies show that most people eat about the same weight of food each day, says Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. If you choose high-fiber, water-rich foods – such as broth-based vegetable soups, salads, dried and fresh fruits, and vegetables – instead of foods without fiber and water, you can eat the same weight of food but feel full on fewer calories.
Types of Dietary Fiber
Dietary Fiber is only found in plants and is made up of two main components, soluble and insoluble fiber. Humans can’t digest dietary fiber so it passes through the small intestine into the colon where it helps maintain regularity and bowel health.
Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water so it helps move material through the colon by increasing the bulk of the stool. This can be very helpful to people who suffer from constipation or irregularity. Diets high in insoluble fiber may also decrease the risk of diabetes. Soluble fiber absorbs water, so it helps to soften stools as well as add bulk. Some types of soluble fiber also help to lower cholesterol levels.
According to Certified Nutritionist Deborah Enos, we should eat between 25-30 grams of fiber per day, but most of us only eat about 10 grams per day. Adding fiber to your diet is easier than you think. Deborah recommends adding high fiber fruit to cereal in the morning, and also eating at least one serving of cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, or kale) each day.
In addition to increasing satiety, Deborah explained that fiber actually mixes with some of the fat you eat which is then excreted instead of being absorbed. While it may sound gross, it is a good thing for dieters. Below are Deborah’s “Fiber Secret Weapons” and also why she recommends them to patients.
Flaxseed is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as an excellent source of fiber. Flaxseeds also have lignans, a rich source of antioxidants — so rich in fact that you would need to eat about 100 slices of whole wheat bread to get the same amount of antioxidants as found in just two tablespoons of flaxseed.
Flaxseed also has a mild laxative effect so she recommends starting slowly. Add a ½ teaspoon of flaxseed to your morning cereal or sprinkle it on top of soup or a salad. Most physicians will suggest about 1 tablespoon of flaxseed per day. But, it’s always a good idea to check with your physician before adding in any new supplements to your diet.
The soluble fiber in prunes promotes a sense fullness, helping to prevent overeating and weight gain. Prunes’ soluble fiber also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing how quickly foods leave the stomach. This may help to increase insulin sensitivity and may play a role in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Dried plums are also packed with antioxidants, vitamin A, potassium and folic acid. Folic acid is necessary for metabolism regulation and also helps protect against heart disease and stroke. These nutrients are essential for someone on a low calorie meal plan and the insoluble fiber they contain can help maintain regularity.
Contributor Deborah Enos, Certified Nutritionist, also known as “The One-Minute Wellness Coach”, is one of the most popular wellness coaches on the West Coast. Her blog, “Health in a Hurry!”, is quickly becoming the weekly must-read for busy people who want to learn to improve their health in just 60 seconds. For more information, visit her website at www.deborahenos.com.