When it comes to losing weight, elimination tends to be the name of the game. To shed pounds, you have to cut all sorts of high-calorie foods and beverages from your diet, and that can be frustrating. That’s where fiber comes in. Because it keeps you feeling full and satisfied without piling on excessive calories, adding more of it to your diet can contribute to helping you weigh less.
SO, WHAT’S WITH ALL THE HYPE: Soluble Fiber vs. Insoluble Fiber
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. While some weight loss plans try to limit carbohydrates, fiber is a healthy kind of carb that you want in your diet. Our bodies aren’t built to digest it, which, however counterintuitive, is actually a good thing. There are 2 types of fiber—soluble and insoluble—that ultimately help with digestion.
Sources of soluble fiber include foods like oatmeal, lentils, oranges, pears, strawberries, beans and blueberries. It absorbs water, provides bulk to the food you’re digesting, delays digestion and gives you a fuller feeling. Sources of insoluble fiber, on the other hand, include whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, seeds, nuts, barley and dark leafy greens. It adds bulk, speeds up the digestion process, doesn’t absorb water and passes through your body quickly. While they’re different, both kinds of fiber are crucial for a healthy diet.
“Fun fact: you’d need to eat 10 medium-sized apples per day to hit your fiber target, and eating an entire head of broccoli will still only get you 6 grams.”
HOW MUCH YOU NEED MAY SURPRISE YOU
Think you’re getting enough fiber? Well, think again. The recommended fiber intake is 25 – 35 grams per day, and the average person only gets 15 grams each day. Fun fact: you’d need to eat 10 medium-sized apples per day to hit your fiber target, and eating an entire head of broccoli will still only get you 6 grams.
IF 10 APPLES SOUND DAUNTING…
If you have trouble hitting your daily fiber recommendation, consider using fiber supplements or meal replacement shakes with high-fiber content. Having trouble determining which supplement to choose? You can tell if something is an excellent source of fiber if it contains 5 – 7 grams on the facts panel.
When incorporating fiber into your weight management program, follow two rules of thumb: introduce it slowly to avoid gas and bloating issues; and stay fully hydrated at all times. Fiber works best when consumed in conjunction with plenty of water.