Diet has a major role to play in weight loss. Consumption of foods which increase satiety and make you feel full, help in decreasing food intake. Also, foods which do not contribute to fat accumulation and subsequent weight gain are healthy and are recommended for weight loss.
Fiber is one such nutrient which has a positive effect on weight loss. It is found in several foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Studies have shown that including fiber in your diet can help you lose weight.
What is Fiber?
Dietary fiber or roughage is a type of carbohydrate, which is hard for the body to digest and absorb. It passes through the digestive tract intact without being broken down into smaller components.
Fiber is of two types:
- Soluble Fiber: It dissolves in water readily and promotes a feeling of fullness.
- Insoluble Fiber: It does not dissolve in water and eases the passing of food through the digestive tract by increasing stool bulk.
The daily recommended value of dietary fiber for men and women of age 50 years and less is 38g and 25g respectively. Older men require 30g while older women require 21g dietary fiber daily.
Several studies have shown that high fiber intake consisting of both soluble and insoluble fiber types promotes weight loss and reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other cardiovascular ailments.
Table of Contents
- Benefits of Dietary Fibre For Weight Loss
- Five Natural Healthy Sources Of Dietary Fibre For Weight Loss
- Precautions with fiber intake
Benefits of Dietary Fibre For Weight Loss
Dietary Fiber has the following benefits in weight loss:
1. It increases satiety
Dietary fiber is not digested by the body and remains intact. It fills up the stomach which promotes the release of satiety hormones and decreases hunger. This reduces food intake and makes you eat less.
It also takes more time in chewing and digesting, which leads to satisfaction for a longer time.
Also, more water is required to move the fiber in the gut, which results in larger water consumption and fuller stomach and subsequently, less food intake.
Hence, it helps in weight loss by decreasing the food consumption.
2. It adds bulk to the food
Dietary fiber helps in adding bulk to the stool which eases the passage of waste through the digestive system. The food stays for a lesser time in the intestines and therefore, there is a lower absorption of nutrients like carbohydrates from the food.
The soluble fiber absorbs more water and forms a gel inside the gut. This slows the absorption of carbs and helps in lowering the blood glucose content. Lower blood glucose results in lower insulin production, which leads to lesser fat accumulation in the body.
3. It does not increase blood glucose
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate, but its consumption does not lead to an increase in calories as it is not absorbed by the body.
4. It is found in healthy foods
Fiber is usually found in foods which have lots of vitamins and minerals and lower content of fats and calories. Thus, eating fiber –rich foods provides good quality nutrition without the risk of weight gain.
5. It promotes the growth of gut microflora
As fiber is not digested by the body, it remains intact in the intestines. Several gut bacteria present in the intestine can feed on the soluble fiber.
Five Natural Healthy Sources Of Dietary Fibre For Weight Loss
Below mentioned are five natural sources of dietary fiber to help in weight loss:
1. Whole grains
Whole grains such as wheat, oats, and rice are rich in fiber. They are used for preparing a variety of foods.
Whole grains, in comparison with refined grains, are more suitable for weight loss and low body fat.
Wheat is used for making bread and other baked products. To benefit from its fiber content, one should not use refined products such as refined wheat flour, as refining lowers its fiber content.
For example, brown bread made from whole-wheat has more fiber (about 3g) than white bread made from refined wheat flour.
Brown rice is another whole grain which is rich in fiber. One cup brown rice contains about 4g of fiber.
Other grains which are good sources of fiber include barley (9g fiber in 1 cup) and oats (4g fiber in 1 cup). These foods can easily be incorporated into the diet.
Ready to eat cereals such as oats can be taken as breakfast or as a meal replacement to promote weight loss and decrease hunger.
Consuming cereals as breakfast also reduces the BMI and the risk of obesity.
In a study, it was found that diet containing whole grains rich in fiber helps in decreasing total fat and energy intake. Such diet is also favorable for obtaining quality nutrients during weight loss.
What does this mean?
Whole grains which are unrefined and unprocessed are rich sources of fiber and help in weight loss.
Certain fruits contain a significant amount of fiber, especially in the skin and seeds.
Therefore, to obtain maximum fiber from foods, fruits should be consumed without peeling as much as possible.
Berries are also rich in fiber and low in calories. In a one cup serving, raspberries provide 8g fiber while each strawberry has 3.3g fiber.
To increase fiber intake, it is also beneficial to consume grapes and raisins, as their skin contains lots of fiber.
In studies, plant-based diets including fruits are known to increase fiber intake, reduce saturated fats in the body and promote a healthy body weight.
Processed and canned fruits and fruit juices may contain other nutrients, but they are devoid of dietary fiber. Thus, consumption of whole fruits is recommended.
What does this mean?
Fruits, when consumed with edible skin, have high fiber content along with essential vitamins and minerals. They are very healthy foods for weight loss.
Vegetables are excellent sources of fiber. Green leafy vegetables contain much fiber and are very beneficial for weight loss. Fiber-rich vegetables include carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, green peas, okra, pumpkin, turnips, brussels sprouts, and artichokes, to name a few.
Fiber values for some of these vegetables are listed below:
- Spinach: 4g fiber in one cup serving
- Carrots: 2g in one medium carrot
- Broccoli: 3g in half a cup
- Green beans: 2g in half a cup
Including more vegetables in the diet increases the fiber content in the body and helps in reducing weight loss and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Instead of taking vegetable juices, whole vegetables in salads or other dishes are more abundant in fiber and hence more beneficial for weight management.
What does this mean?
Vegetables provide a high quality fiber and other nutrients and are suitable for weight loss.
Many types of beans and legumes like kidney beans, lima beans, black beans, chickpeas, split peas, and lentils are packed with fiber and protein, both of which help in weight loss.
Beans need to be cooked thoroughly and consumed with lots of water to aid in its absorption by the body. They can be consumed in salads, soups, and curries and are readily available.
The fiber content of some cooked beans in a half cup serving is mentioned below:
While consuming beans and legumes, canned and processed foods should be avoided as their nutrient quality and quantity are lower than freshly cooked beans.
In a study, it was shown that a diet rich in fiber and containing beans is as useful as a low-carb diet in losing body weight and decreasing the risk of obesity.
What does this mean? Several types of beans and legumes provide the body with ample fiber and help in decreasing the fat and lipid content. They are also rich in proteins and thereby offer a double benefit in a weight loss diet.
5. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are other fiber-rich foods with almonds, peanuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and quinoa topping the list.
They are also rich in other essential minerals and protein which makes them a healthy food for persons aiming at weight loss.
Consumption of nuts is linked with reduced risk of various ailments such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, gallstones, hypertension, inflammation, and cancer.
It also does not contribute to weight gain and in fact, may help in lowering the body weight due to its high fiber and protein content.
They assist in increasing the satiety levels and energy expenditure and utilization. This helps in burning stored fats and lowers the deposition of fats in the body, which is beneficial in weight loss.
In a study consumption of pistachio nuts has been associated with low BMI, low blood glucose and low lipid levels. They also help in increasing satiety and thus, assist in decreasing energy intake and losing weight.
The fiber content of some nuts is listed below:
- Almonds: 12.5g
- Pistachio nuts: 11g
- Walnuts: 7g
- Cashew nuts: 3g
- Dried coconut: 16g
- Peanuts: 8.5g
Some seeds like flax seeds, chia seeds, and quinoa, are excellent sources of dietary fiber and protein. A 100g serving of these seeds has the following fiber content.
- Flax seeds: 27g
- Chia seeds: 34g
- Quinoa: 7g
In studies, flax seeds are known to help in lowering the blood glucose and blood pressure and aid in weight loss.
What does this mean?
Many nuts and some seeds contain lots of fiber and protein which makes them an ideal food for weight loss.
Precautions with fiber intake
Always consult with a doctor or nutritionist before making changes in your diet.
The increase of fiber in the diet should be done slowly and gradually.
An increase in dietary fiber can result in abdominal discomfort, cramps, gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea in some individuals.
Do not increase the fiber intake above the daily recommended value as it can result in harder stools and constipation.
Fiber has a tendency to interfere with absorption of essential vitamins and minerals.
As fiber absorbs water, water intake should also be increased with increased fiber in the diet.
Dietary fiber helps in weight loss by increasing the satiety and reducing hunger. It adds bulk to the food in the digestive tract and helps in controlling blood glucose. Healthy fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts should be included in the weight loss diet.
Healthy fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts should be included in the weight loss diet.