Fiber-A Secret Weapon for Weight Loss

In this article, I'm dishing up a savory secret that some of you may not know about yet. It's amazing to me that something as simple and readily available as fiber can be such a helpful tool for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. If you aren't already eating enough fiber, then I challenge you to add more to your diet this week. Read on to find out why and how to bulk up your diet.

Fiber has so many great benefits and is absolutely essential to a healthy diet. Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that doesn’t get digested; it actually travels through your entire digestive system and out, cleaning along the way. Since our bodies don’t have the enzymes to break down fiber, we can’t absorb it, which means we don’t get calories from it. Did you catch that? Fiber provides ZERO calories, which means it gives you bang without the buck. It slows down the early digestive process in the stomach, which helps to keep you full longer. When you feel full longer, you don't get as hungry between meals, which means you won't snack as much, and you won't consume as many calories throughout the day.

Since it slows down digestion, fiber also slows the rate at which your blood sugar rises after a meal. This is important because when you eat mostly processed white flours with very little fiber, your blood sugar rises more quickly and is more likely to crash afterwards. When your blood sugar crashes, or lowers quickly, you feel hungry and are more likely to snack again sooner. It has been said that fiber is like a broom for your GI tract because it sort of sweeps as it travels through. As a result, fiber has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, as well as reduce the risk for heart disease and colon cancer. Since it adds bulk to your stool, it reduces the risk of diverticulosis (pouches in the colon), constipation, and hemorrhoids. Lastly, fiber increases the production of “good bacteria” in the colon, which helps the immune system.

Breakfast is a great time to fit in a good amount of fiber, but try to squeeze more fiber in throughout the rest of the day too by eating fruits and vegetables (with the skin when possible) as well as whole grains. Look on the label for fiber content (under Total Carbohydrate); try to find grains (e.g., breads, tortillas, rice, pasta, bagels, English muffins, waffles, and buns) that have at least 2 grams of fiber per serving. Try to find a breakfast cereal that has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. A high-fiber breakfast helps you stay full until lunch without cravings for snacks. If you don’t like any of the high-fiber cereals, then try mixing one of them with your favorite. This way, you’ll get to taste your favorite cereal and get extra fiber at the same time (the best of both worlds). Here's a tasty combo: Mix about 1/2 cup of Fiber One® with Honey Clusters with about 2/3 cup of Cinnamon Toast Crunch®. Eating healthier and losing weight in a way that you can actually maintain long-term is all about moderation and compromise.

Adults need 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day. Your kiddos need about five grams plus one gram for each year of age. Be sure to increase your fiber intake gradually and drink more fluids to help decrease the potential side effects.

April Adams

I am a Registered Dietitian and author with years of experience in weight loss counseling. If you want to learn how to eat healthier and lose weight in the most practical, painless way possible, please visit my website.

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