The world of dietary fiber has expanded dramatically since the days of stirring a cloudy, tasteless mixture into water. Since then, experts have learned a lot about how the 300,000 fiber-rich plants on Earth help heal everything from our immunity-boosting gut microbiome to our battle with the bathroom scale.
Plus, popular new grocery items and social media recipes for things like chia seed pudding now make consuming fiber — and reaping the vast health benefits for weight loss — more delicious than ever.
The Benefits of Fiber for Weight Loss
While national daily recommendations are set at 21 to 25 grams per day for women, most experts believe we actually need extra fiber — closer to 35 grams. And new research finds that an even better gauge than grams is the variety (or diversity) of fiber we get into our system.
Will Bulsiewicz, MD, author of Fiber Fueled (Buy from Amazon, $14.29), says, “Consuming 30 different fiber-rich foods per week is ideal.” The problem: “Some 97 percent of us aren’t even getting minimal fiber.”
Fiber is the key to an all-body makeover: It helps stabilize insulin, quash cravings, support digestion and blast fat. In fact, bulking up on fiber has been found to help folks rev metabolism by 30 percent and slim 44 percent faster!
Women’s health expert Anna Cabeca, DO, says, “Fiber is a nutritional miracle worker. And we need it more now than ever before.” Especially since the pandemic has led to an increase in stress-snacking of simple carbs that have been stripped of fiber in the manufacturing process.
Here, three different types of fiber we need and how they speed slimming…
Soluble fiber works to steady blood sugar.
Found in nuts, seeds, oatmeal, dried beans, apples, strawberries, and peas, soluble fiber forms a gel that slows digestion to help us absorb nutrients from food.
This slowdown allows us to tune in to the natural “fullness” signals from our brain to prevent mindless overeating, plus erases cravings triggered by nutrient deficiencies. This type of fiber is also known to bind to cholesterol and remove it from the body, while improving blood-sugar regulation to protect against type 2 diabetes.
Plus, its prebiotic properties feed “good” microbes in the gut, preventing the inflammation that fuels weight gain. Case in point: Canadian researchers found that people who consumed soluble fiber-rich chia seeds daily lost 534 percent more weight than others.
Insoluble fiber detoxes the liver.
Found in whole grains, plus fruit and veggie skins, insoluble fiber bulks up stool by drawing water into it to make it easier to pass. In the process, this roughage collects fat-trapping and liver-clogging toxins too. (Whole grains have even been shown to drop people’s risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.)
What’s more, multiple studies found that insoluble fiber mops up excess estrogen from the body that, if left recirculating, could trigger metabolic disease and fat storage. And since insoluble fiber isn’t digested (and thus doesn’t contribute to calorie counts), it’s a smart choice to add to meals when trying to slim.
One type of insoluble fiber, called chitin, found in lobster shells and often sold as supplements, is proven to amp up feelings of fullness, so study subjects ate 425 fewer calories per day!
Resistant starch boosts satiety.
Tucked in foods like green bananas, sweet potatoes, reheated rice, and potatoes, resistant starch delays or “resists” digestion in the small intestine, triggering the release of craving-quelling satiety hormones.
A study in the journal Nutrients found that eating resistant starch at breakfast and lunch leads to a significantly slashed appetite at dinner. And another study found that sweet potatoes keep folks full for hours and reduce fat stores by up to 45 percent!
This Smoothie Has All 3 Forms of Fiber
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
- 1 unripe, slightly green banana
To make: Blend blueberries (for soluble fiber), ground flaxseeds (for insoluble fiber) and banana (for resistant starch) with 1 cup of cold water (or ice, if desired) until smooth. Enjoy!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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