Fiber is a powerhouse when it comes to your health and it’s a strong contender in the weight loss field too. A high fiber diet bucks the trend for low-carb dieting, but it has so many benefits, you would be crazy to pass it by.
What is fiber?
Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that comes from plant-based sources, it takes a long time for the body to break fiber down (if at all). Fiber comes in two types soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber, as the name suggests will dissolve in water and forms a gel-like substance that promotes satiety and slows gastric emptying – this keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Soluble fiber has also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, reduce insulin resistance and works to reduce chronic inflammation and metabolic disorders.
Insoluble fiber is fiber that is not water-soluble and tends to be difficult for the body to break down. Some insoluble fiber may pass through your digestive system completely undigested. This type of fiber attracts water to the colon and bulks your stools, allowing you to pass them easily. This is why fiber is associated with easing constipation and good bowel health.
Fiber can be found in fruits and vegetables and grains and cereals. We usually find both soluble and insoluble fiber together in varying amounts.
How can a high fiber diet help you lose weight?
The gel-like substance formed from soluble fiber slows the emptying of your gut. This means that food travels through the digestive system slowly, leaving you feeling fuller for longer.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your food and is difficult to digest. This partial or non-digestion of insoluble fiber usually means very little energy is released from food so your stomach feels full with little calorie consumption.
Fibre has also been shown to reduce insulin resistance. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates. This results in a slower release of energy, which promotes a steady and controlled release of insulin rather than the spikes associated with sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption.
When it comes to weight loss, vegetables are by far one of the lowest calorie, high-fiber options. They are also nutrient-dense providing you with valuable vitamins and minerals. If you are looking to lose weight, focus on including lots of vegetables every day.
What are the health benefits of fiber?
- Weight regulation and healthy BMI
- Reduced cholesterol
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Good bowel health
- Reduction in chronic inflammation and metabolic syndrome.
- Healthy gut microbiome
If you would like to read more about the science behind fiber and health, check out the following article found on National Centre for Biotechnology Find out more about the science behind fibre and health here.
How can I eat more fiber?
Fiber is found in fruits and vegetables, cereals, and grains. Avoid eating processed versions of these foods and try to cook these fast or eat them raw if you can.
Great examples of high-fiber foods:
- Oats and cereals.
- Raw vegetables for snacking and cooked vegetables (quick cook as cooking breaks down fiber).
- Multi-vegetable salads.
- Fruit salad and whole fruits.
- Wholegrains such as bulgar wheat, brown rice, buckwheat, barley.
- Wholegrain crackers.
- Beans and pulses.
- Baked potato.
Now that you are aware of the amazing health benefits of a high fiber diet and how it can help you manage your weight, you can see why these foods form the foundation of any great healthy eating programme. If you are not currently eating many of these foods, it is a good idea to increase them gradually, as a sudden increase in fiber can be a shock to the digestive system, which may cause you more frequent trips to the bathroom. Take your time and find the high-fiber foods you like most to create your healthy eating plan.