Starting a weight loss journey often seems to involve a daunting overhaul of your entire lifestyle. While a dedicated fitness schedule and calorie deficit certainly help, sometimes it’s easier to start with small diet changes.
Eating more fiber is one small step that has a big impact. If you’re not getting the recommended daily amount of fiber (25 grams for women and 30 grams for men), consider adding more to your diet because this type of carbohydrate is proven to be a major player in losing weight.
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Keep scrolling to find out more about the relationship between fiber and weight loss.
It’ll keep you regular.
High-fiber foods aid in moving things through the digestive tract, increasing waste bulk, and preventing constipation. Though this may not help you lose weight in a fat-burning sense, it will eliminate any waste that’s been sitting in your gut—and adding pesky pounds to the scale.
Without enough fiber, the food that you’ve eaten continues to sit in your gut. This causes bad bacteria to form and could possibly lead to gastrointestinal issues.
Though the extra pounds are just excess fecal matter, the sluggish feeling makes it harder to go to the gym. Upping your fiber intake will prevent this from happening by keeping everything moving.
It’s important we get both insoluble and soluble fibers as well, notes Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDE, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“Insoluble fiber is what we think of as roughage. It’s typically found in peels of fruits and veggies, seeds, [etc]. This acts like a brush and sweeps food out of our body,” she explains.
“Soluble fiber is … found in [foods such as] beans, oatmeal, and barley and creates a gel-like structure, which binds with cholesterol and flushes it out. Ideally, we want to enjoy a combination of both soluble and insoluble fiber.”
It’ll help you feel satisfied.
It’s no secret that a baked potato will make you feel more satisfied than a bag of potato chips. This is because the potato in its original form contains a lot more fiber than its processed counterpart.
Apple over apple juice, raw fruit over smoothies, and vegetables over veggie chips are all similar examples. “[Fiber] adds volume and fills us up for a low-calorie budget,” Sheth says of how this can help with weight loss.
Like healthy fats, fiber is slow to digest in your stomach, which (along with food bulk) creates that full feeling you get. On top of that, high-fiber foods take longer to eat, giving you enough time to recognize when you’re satisfied.
Luckily for us, foods containing a large amount of fiber—such as fruits, vegetables, and grains—contribute to a healthier diet overall. Forgo your usual processed snacks and meals for their raw, steamed, and even baked versions to help you feel full and less inclined to overeat. Hello, homemade sweet potato fries.
It’ll boost your energy levels.
Foods containing large amounts of fiber may not be the most calorie dense, but they can still boost energy levels. This is because these foods not only improve your digestion but also slow the release of glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream.
So the sugar dump that would typically give you a short-lived spike of energy is now slowed—still giving you energy but preventing you from burning out after your food’s carbs are processed. Increased energy for longer amounts of time can be crucial when it comes to working out for weight loss. As usual, it goes to show that eating healthily and working out go hand in hand.
It’ll curb sugar cravings.
Sheth tells us that fiber can have a positive impact on your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In short, it can help curb those sugar cravings.
This is helpful in managing thyroid disease, diabetes, and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome, which has risk factors such as obesity and inactivity). The next time you reach for a sugary snack, instead consider grabbing some fruit and a spoonful of nut butter.
The fruit contains natural sugars and the nut butter has hearty, healthy fats. You’ll be satisfied, and your digestion and energy levels will thank you for it.
“When increasing fiber, it is important to do so gradually to allow your body to adjust to this higher intake. If done suddenly, you may experience bloating and stomach discomfort,” Sheth advises.
“Also, fiber needs water to swell up and go through your system smoothly. If you don’t drink enough water, you may end up feeling constipated.” In short: If weight loss is your goal, try upping your fiber intake slowly and drinking plenty of water (as if you needed a reminder).
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