If you’ve researched a healthy diet (whether for weight loss or otherwise), fiber has likely come up. The one piece of advice you’ll hear most?
“Eat more fiber.”
Whether to keep you regular or to achieve a healthy weight, high fiber foods form an important part of any dieter’s healthy choices. However, not all fiber is the same. Understanding the differences between them, as well as what food sources you should turn to in your own diet, is essential to achieving optimal health.
This article examines what fiber is, the different types of fiber, the health benefits of fiber, as well as how to incorporate fiber into your weight loss efforts.
What is Fiber?
Fiber is a carbohydrate commonly found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. While most carbohydrates are quick to digest, fiber takes longer and avoids the spike in blood sugar (and subsequent crash) caused by most types of carbohydrates. In essence, it’s a part of plant foods that the body can’t digest.
When it comes to fiber, more is better. Up to 30 to 40 grams per day, to be exact, according to David L. Katz, MD, MPH. A recent study suggests that 30 grams of fiber daily can help you lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve how your body responds to insulin as well.
As we mentioned above, not all types of fiber are created equal. And, as you can imagine, the type of fiber you consume matters for your weight loss efforts.
Two Types of Fiber: Soluble and Insoluble
There are two types of fiber you should be aware of:
- Soluble Fiber – Commonly found in berries, beans, and nuts, soluble fiber becomes a gel-like texture when digested by the body. This slows digestion and keeps you feeling full, helping diminish hunger and cravings. It also lowers blood cholesterol and stabilizes blood glucose levels.
- Insoluble Fiber – Found in dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, and certain other food sources, insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve. Instead, it adds bulk to your stool and pushes food through the digestive tract, allowing for healthy bowel movements.
Most foods don’t contain just one type of fiber. In fact, most whole foods contain both which promote healthy gut bacteria, further improving digestion, absorption, and immune functioning. These bacteria derive energy from fiber, allowing the body to efficiently absorb nutrients and process food.
Health Benefits of Fiber
Fiber is important to the body for more than just weight loss efforts. In fact, consuming high amounts of soluble fiber can lead to several demonstrated benefits:
- Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight – High-fiber foods help with weight loss for two main reasons: They’re more filling than lower-fiber foods and they’re less energy dense (i.e. they are lower in calories). By consuming a broad range of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you can boost your weight loss and maintain a healthy weight over time.
- Normalize Bowel Movements – Insoluble fiber bulks up your stool and softens it. This leads to regular movements. In contrast, if you suffer from loose, watery stools, increasing your intake of fiber will help to regulate your bowel movements once again.
- Lowers Cholesterol – Soluble fiber lowers LDL (i.e. bad) cholesterol and has been shown to do so for more than 15 years via scientific research.
- Heart Health – Fiber rich foods reduce blood pressure and inflammation throughout the body.
- Controls Blood Sugar – While most carbohydrates spike blood sugar, fiber is different. Soluble fiber, particularly for those with diabetes, improves blood sugar levels and reduces your risk of developing the condition if you don’t currently have it.
Incorporate Fiber In Your Diet to Lose Weight
The water and fiber contained in foods such as fruits and vegetables increases volume and reduces energy density. Because fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber and other nutrients, they form the cornerstone of any diet that is rich in fiber for weight loss.
A high fiber diet often contains a healthy balance of grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, and seeds. To increase your fiber intake, consider adding these foods to your diet:
- Grains – Barley, brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat breads and pastas
- Vegetables – Spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and green beans
- Legumes – All varieties of beans (including black, lima, and kidney), as well as lentils and split peas
- Fruit – Pears and apples (both with the skin), as well as bananas, raspberries, oranges, and strawberries
- Nuts and Seeds – Almonds, pistachio nuts, and pecans
Remember, whole food sources are always the best form of fiber. As such, you should stick to unprocessed sources of fiber for your dietary needs rather than “fiber bars” or other manufactured fiber sources.
Further Your Weight Loss With Fiber
When you’re focused on weight loss, healthy digestion is a key component. By increasing your fiber intake, you can feed your gut bacteria, all while enjoying other health-related benefits.
While fiber is integral to weight loss, so are other factors. To supplement your own efforts and healthy eating, take PhenQ to burn stored fat, prevent additional fat from being stored, suppress appetite, and boost energy. When combined with a healthy diet and exercise, it’s the simplest way to achieve optimal health and the appearance you’ve always wanted.