My friend told me that fiber can help you lose weight. Is this true?
Speaking of friends, you may want to consider fiber one of your best friends when trying to lose weight.
In an article in the May issue of Nutrition Reviews, researchers found that fiber can increase the feeling of fullness and reduce hunger between meals in the majority of the studies that they looked at — a satisfying plus for those trying to shed some pounds.
Also seen in various studies was a tendency for a decreased intake of calories and some weight loss when on a higher fiber regimen, as compared to a diet less rich in fiber. When the studies were pooled together, those who chose the higher fiber, unrestricted diets as compared to lower fiber diets, were associated with a loss of a little over 4 pounds over an approximate 3 1/2 month period. While the weight loss was modest, the weight-shedding effects were more pronounced in overweight or obese individuals. These folks had an average weight loss of a little over 5 pounds during that period. So, those who needed it the most, appeared to benefit the most.
The researchers discussed the potential role that fiber could play in helping individuals better regulate their weight.
- Since the body can’t absorb most of the fiber in foods, it passes through your GI tract like the Metro Liner, without stopping to let off any calories.
- Fiber is also a magnet that attracts calorie-free water, so it may provide satisfying bulk to help you feel stuffed long before you stuff yourself with excess calories.
And then there’s all that chewing. I was eating a high fiber bowl of flakes, twigs, and granola the other day at breakfast and didn’t get finished until the mid-day news report. All that chewing can help slow down your intake, giving your stomach more time to alert your brain that it’s full.
Chewing can also cause the production of saliva and stomach acid, which may cause your stomach to distend or bloat. A distended stomach may trigger signals of fullness, leading to more post-meal satisfaction, according to the article.
And speaking of stomach bloat, some types of fiber and their ability to hold on to water, can not only add to a distended tummy, but can also help delay the emptying of the stomach. This allows the food and nutrients to hang around longer, reducing the feeling of hunger, according to the researchers.
Suspiciously, obesity is rare in populations where fiber is sprouting liberally in the diet. According to the researchers, it’s estimated that U.S. adults only eat an estimated 15 grams of fiber daily, about half the recommended daily amount. Over 55 percent of adults fall into the plump categories of either being overweight or obese.
Compare that to the folks in Kenya, Uganda, and Malawi, who rack up 60 to 80 grams of fiber daily — with less than 15 percent of these individuals are either overweight or obese. Of course, other dietary and lifestyle habits such as exercise can also play an important role in keeping these individuals lean.
So when it comes to trying to shed some weight around your middle, you may benefit by adding more fiber from fruit, veggies, and whole grains on your plate. Click on the links at the right to see how to work towards gradually consuming up to 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily.