We know what you’re thinking. Another weight loss fad? Nope. Not this time. Studies have shown that getting the FDA-recommended amount of fiber—about 30 grams per day—can be a beneficial part of your weight loss regimen. Read on to find out how dietary fiber helps with weight loss.
What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber is a carbohydrate-based component of vegetables and fruits. While moving through your gut during digestion, it can’t be broken down by your body’s enzymes. Instead, it aids digestion based on the kind of fiber it is.
- Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It acts like food for your gut microbiota, which are friendly microorganisms that keep your gut healthy.
- Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water, but absorbs it. It promotes intestinal activity, helping you poop.
Dietary fiber also promotes the production and excretion of bile, which helps you digest saturated fats like those from red meat and fried food. Other benefits of dietary fiber include helping you feel less hungry and regulating your blood sugar levels.
Studies have shown that getting the FDA-recommended amount of fiber—about 30 grams per day—can be a beneficial part of your weight management regimen.
Due to the many advantages of getting enough fiber in your diet, doctors and experts recommend it to help lower the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. It’s also associated with preventing constipation, hemorrhoids, and colon cancer.
How does dietary fiber help you lose weight?
Fiber can help you feel fuller for longer.
Dietary fiber is associated with feelings of satiety. When you feel satisfied from your meal, you eat less. When you eat less, you take in fewer calories, which can contribute to weight loss.
Fiber can help get rid of excess fluid in your body.
From the moment you chew your food until it’s in your intestines, dietary fiber works to absorb excess water in your food and help you eliminate it. By getting rid of this extra water, it contributes to the loss of weight associated with fluid retention.
The FDA recommends that you get about 30 grams of dietary fiber daily, but 95% of Americans fail to do so.
Fiber may reduce how much fat and sugar you absorb from your food.
An important effect dietary fiber has in your digestive system is inhibiting the enzymes that break down fats. In doing so, it prevents your body from absorbing as much fat from your food, which can lead to weight gain.
Fiber also has a low glycemic index. That means that, even though it’s a carbohydrate, it doesn’t raise your blood glucose by transforming into sugar. Since increased blood sugar is linked to increased weight, dietary fiber prevents you from packing on extra pounds from sugar.
How do I get enough fiber to help with weight loss?
The FDA recommends that you get about 30 grams of dietary fiber daily, but 95% of Americans fail to do so. That’s because it’s easier said than done — 30 grams of fiber means eating about 12 salads every day! Here are some other alternatives to getting the daily recommended amount of dietary fiber:
- Choose whole grain options and brown rice.
- Eat 6 servings of fruits or vegetables a day.
- Incorporate legumes such as lentils, beans, or peas into your diet.
- Use concentrated sources of fiber like flaxseed, chia, or quinoa.
- Take a fiber supplement. Bellway fiber supplements provide you with 18% of the fiber you need daily (and contain no artificial ingredients, unlike other brands!). Just confirm with a doctor that it's right for you, as you would with any daily supplement.
An important note: Your body may need to adjust to the increased fiber intake. If you’re using a supplement to increase your fiber, be sure to gradually increase how much fiber you take. You’ll also want to drink more water. For every 10 grams of fiber you eat, drink about 2 cups of water to help it absorb correctly. And, with drinking water being linked to weight loss, you’ll do double duty to maintain your weight!