There’s so many complicated diets out there, each one claiming to have uncovered the magical secret of weight loss. However, research has found some common threads amongst the truly successful weight loss programs over the years, most of which are quite ordinary and are actually not so complicated after all.
Most of us already know that fiber plays a role in weight loss and good health. But what you may not realize is how significant a part it really has. Not only does eating more fiber lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, but research has shown that simply upping the amount of fiber you eat each day – while not making any other major changes to your lifestyle – could already start cranking your bathroom scale down in your favor.
Increasing Fiber vs. Decreasing Calories for Weight Loss
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School recently placed two large groups of pre-diabetic individuals on two different diets. The first group was put on the American Heart Association (AHA) diet, which limits saturated fat and restricts calories. The second group was not restricted at all; they were asked to do nothing more than add 30 grams of fiber to each day, from vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Neither group was put on an exercise plan.
The two groups were reassessed a year later. While far fewer people from the AHA group developed diabetes than from the high-fiber group, the researchers found that both groups lost about the same amount of weight: the AHA group lost an average of 2.7 kilograms, while the high-fiber group lost an average of 2.1 kilograms. Both groups also showed significant improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and inflammation.
While modifying other aspects of your diet and lifestyle are also important in achieving your ideal weight and health goals, fiber is a good place to start. “(Eating fiber) is the first step, and perhaps the most important, to eating healthier,” says the lead study author, Dr. Yunsheng. “Asking people to eat more of a certain food, rather than telling them what not to eat, may help people to think more positively about changes in their diet, and make the goals more achievable. From there, it might be easier to make other changes.”
Basically, there are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can be found in foods like beans, peas, nuts, chia seeds, broccoli and Brussel sprouts. When the soluble fiber in foods is mixed with water, it thickens and creates a gel-like solution, slowing down the digestion of food and making you feel full on less calories, helping with appetite and weight control. Insoluble fiber can be found in foods like dark leafy greens, celery, green beans, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini and the skins of root vegetables. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, passing through your digestive system intact and speeding up the passage of food and waste from your gut, detoxifying your system and preventing constipation.
Most whole vegetables and fruits contain both types of fiber, which not only helps with appetite control and detoxification, but also nourishes the beneficial bacteria in your gut, boosting digestion, immunity and weight loss.
While many grain products are also high in fiber, they contain other components that many people are sensitive to, have difficulty digesting, and that increase the insulin and leptin levels of people already struggling with insulin resistance or leptin resistance. Also, most grain products have been processed or refined, which removes the most fibrous and nutritious parts of the grain – this is even the case with most processed grain products that claim to have “added fiber” on the packaging. That’s why focusing on eating more fresh, whole vegetables and fruits every day is the best way to increase your daily fiber intake.
Look for fresh and enticing recipes that include foods like broccoli, cauliflower, berries, Brussel sprouts, chia seeds, almonds, beans, walnuts, flax seeds, sweet potato, onions, psyllium seed husks, green beans, zucchini, peas and other high-fiber produce, and add them into your daily meal plan. Aim to eat about 30 – 35 grams of fiber from vegetable and fruit sources every day, to help you experience pure weight loss, improve your health, boost your energy levels, strengthen your immune system and improve the quality of your life.