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Fiber: The Missing Key to Weight Loss?

Eating right and exercising but still not seeing results? Some studies suggest that adding more fiber to your diet could kick start your weight loss and help you lose those stubborn pounds. Read more about the benefits of fiber for weight loss below.
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Weight management is difficult in today’s world, simply because all commercial foods seem designed to make you fat. Common ingredients in processed foods include the worst fats, the most fattening sugars, and a dietary ratio that is much, much too high in carbohydrates.

Even adults and children who eat a mainly healthy diet can often struggle with weight. Regular exercise is often not enough to keep excess weight at bay unless accompanied by a strict diet. Individuals with hormone issues and other body imbalances may still have trouble losing weight even with a healthy diet and exercise.

If exercise isn’t enough, what is the key to healthy weight loss? Most experts agree that diet is a bigger influence in a person’s weight than exercise.

This makes sense when you think about it. Your body has to work a lot harder to burn off excess energy (calories) than it does to simply eat the right kinds of food. Although most health experts agree that a large quantity of vegetables and fruit, reduced carbs, healthy fats, and healthy protein sources will lead to weight loss, new research has uncovered that fiber can also play a huge role in healthy weight loss and can provide other health benefits as well.

Read on to see how fiber can benefit you for weight loss and overall health.

Health Benefits of Fiber

Fiber provides numerous, documented health benefits for all age groups. Some of the biggest benefits of fiber are listed below:

Satiation

Fiber can help a person maintain a healthy weight simply by providing more satiation. Numerous studies have supported this claim, but the most recent, published in Nature Communications in 2014, found that increased dietary carbohydrates fermented in the colon decreases body weight. This process creates a chemical that travels to the brain and suppresses the appetite through the production of acetate. Therefore, just by adding more fiber to the diet, you can easily reduce your total intake of food, which contributes to a healthy body weight.

Blood Pressure

Some studies have found that a higher concentration of fiber in the diet could have beneficial effects on blood pressure. A study from 2001 published in the journal Hypertension found results that indicated that fiber is beneficial for blood pressure.

In the study, individuals with high blood pressure were put on a low-protein, low-fiber diet for four weeks, then groups were given additional supplements of fiber or protein to test their effect on blood pressure. Both groups given either extra protein or fiber showed reduced blood pressure levels. When compared with the control group, the supplement groups had a 5.9 mm Hg reduction in blood pressure. The study authors theorized that individuals with high blood pressure could greatly benefit from increasing fiber and protein intake.

Cholesterol

A 1999 analysis of 67 trials testing the effectiveness of fiber on cholesterol levels found that a higher soluble fiber intake reduced cholesterol levels by a small, but measurable amount. The biggest impact was on LDL cholesterol. Blood Sugar In 2004, a study published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice examined the role of fiber in blood sugar levels.

The study examined the results of differing fiber levels in 53 people. One group received 1.97 g soluble fiber and and 8.13 g of insoluble fiber daily, and the other group received 4.11 g were soluble fiber and 25.08 g of insoluble fiber for three months. Both groups saw reduced blood glucose levels. The second group consuming the higher amount of fiber had a 12.3 percent reduction in glucose levels.

Stroke Risk

A study review from 2013 published in the journal American Heart Association examined the effects of fiber on reduced stroke risk. Previous studies have implicated that fiber could reduce stroke risk, but this is the first study review to examine the effects directly. The review examined the results from 8 studies from across the globe. According to the review, individuals with lower fiber intakes had increased risk for developing stroke.

The study authors concluded, “Greater dietary fiber intake is significantly associated with lower risk of first stroke. Overall, findings support dietary recommendations to increase intake of total dietary fiber.”

Total Mortality

A meta analysis on 17 previous studies was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in September 2014. These studies included data from over 900,000 study participants. The study authors found that when the study participants who consumed the highest levels of fiber were compared with the participants who consumed the lowest levels of fiber, there was a significantly reduced risk of death. For every 10 gram increase in daily fiber intake, total mortality risk was lowered by 10 percent.

The study authors concluded, “These findings suggest that fiber intake may offer a potential public health benefit in reducing all-cause mortality.”

High-Fiber Key for Healthy Weight Loss

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2015 examined the weight loss differences in two groups. One group ate the diet recommended by the American Heart Association and the second group added a diet consisting of at least 30 grams of fiber from vegetables, fruits, or whole grains. The study participants were tracked for one year.

At the end of the year, the AHA group lost an average of 2.7 kilos and the high-fiber group lost an average of 2.1 kilos. According to study author Dr. Yunsheng Ma, increasing dietary fiber can be effective because "Very few people reach the goals that are recommended. Asking them to focus on eating more of a certain food—rather than telling them what not to eat—may help people to think more positively about changes in their diet, and make the goals more achievable.”

What is the Best Source of Fiber?

Studies show that fiber is extremely beneficial to weight loss and many other health benefits. But many individuals are confused as to what foods actually contain healthy fiber. Processed grains, for example, are what many individuals believe to be high in fiber, but processed grains are actually surprisingly low in fiber. Fiber consists of two types: soluble and insoluble.

Types of Fiber

Soluble: Soluble fiber slows down the digestion by dissolving into a gel-like texture. Cucumbers, blueberries, beans, and nuts contain this type of fiber.

Insoluble: Insoluble fiber is contained in foods like leafy vegetables, celery, and carrots. It does not dissolve and adds bulk to stool. This type of fiber helps food move through the digestive tract and aids in elimination. Many whole foods contain both types of fiber. However, processed foods (and some grains) can feed microorganisms that are detrimental to a person’s health. The fiber in processed grains is basically unusable by the body and may cause health problems in some- particularly in individuals who are gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive.

So, what can you eat instead? The following foods contain high levels of beneficial fiber:

High Fiber Foods
  • Raw bran (12 grams in 1 ounce)
  • Flax seeds (8 grams in 1 ounce)
  • Berries (3-10 grams in 1 ounce)
  • Broccoli (5 grams in 1 cup)
  • Brussels sprouts (6 grams in 1 cup)
  • Potatoes (4 grams in 1 potato)
  • Almonds (4 grams in 1 ounce)
  • Peas (14 grams in 1 cup)
  • Beans (9 to 19 grams per cup)
  • Cabbage (4 grams in 1 cup)
  • Oranges (4 grams in 1 orange)
  • Prunes (6 grams in ½ a cup)
  • Pine nuts (12 grams in 1 cup)
  • Collard greens (5 grams in 1 cup)

How Much Fiber is Ideal?

According to the above studies, study participants saw maximum benefit when they consumed at least 30 grams of fiber daily. The Mayo Clinic recommends that men eat about 38 grams of fiber daily, and women eat about 25 grams. Even if you eat a lot of grains and cereal, it is unlikely that you are consuming that much fiber each day because processed grains are much lower in fiber than their whole counterparts.

To get maximum fiber benefit from grains, make your own bread from freshly-ground grain kernels.

Unhealthy Sources of Fiber

Not all fiber sources are the same. Added fiber in processed grains, and any fiber in processed grains, will not provide as great benefits as eating fiber from natural, original sources. Stick to foods as close to their original state as possible for maximum fiber and nutrient benefit.

Eat More Fiber and Improve Your Health

Just like the above studies showed, increasing your healthy fiber intake can work effectively to maintain a healthy weight and significantly reduce the risk for developing serious health problems. A report from the Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation stated that if all adults in the United States with heart disease supplemented with psyllium fiber, it could reduce healthcare costs by $4.4 billion dollars a year.

According to the report, it would cost a person 30 cents a day to obtain the right levels of dietary intake to offer health benefits. Vegetables and fruit provide the biggest source of healthy fiber. For individuals who are not sensitive to leptin or gluten, whole grains can also be a viable source of fiber. Just by simply adding a bit more fiber to your diet, you can increase your potential for healthy weight loss that will providing lasting results and health benefits.

Sources


http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/12/31/aje.kwu257.short?rss=1

http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/03/27/STROKEAHA.111.000151.abstract

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140429/ncomms4611/full/ncomms4611.html

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