Dietary fiber is essential not only for our well being but also for keeping our weight in check. If you are like most people you are not eating enough it. If you are overweight, dietary fiber, may just be the magic bullet you are looking for.
So in this spirit, day 7 introduces this magical nutrient into your weight loss plan.
I have written extensively about dietary fiber (you can find out all the details here) so today, I’ll just give you a short summary, stress the important points and benefits as related to weight loss, and give you some examples of healthy high fiber foods to consider.
Dietary fiber is a carbohydrate that is found in most fruits and vegetables in varying amounts. Even though it is so prevalent most people still do not eat enough of it. For example most women only eat as little as 10 grams of fiber per day, compared to a daily recommended intake of 25 – 30 grams (g) for women and about 38 grams (g) for men.
A recent University of Massachusetts study showed that women who ate 30 g of fiber daily lost a significant amount of weight and fat without measuring calories and portions.
So why is that? What happens in our bodies to produce such a response?
The Power Of Dietary Fiber
Essentially, this component of fruits and vegetables is indigestible as our body cannot break it down. It passes through our digestive system but in the process it triggers a number of benefits:
► It fights hunger – Because we have to chew fibrous foods longer than other foods, the prolonged chewing releases a hormone called Cholecystokinin (CCK) which signals that we are full and should stop eating.
In addition the fiber in our stomach absorb water and swell which also gives you a feeling of fullness and makes you stop eating.
In the stomach it also makes your food to be released slower. The benefit of this is that the blood sugar is also released slower. This prevents the “sugar spikes” in your bloodstream and prevents the intense feeling of hunger, sugar spikes in the blood are known to induce.
As well, when your blood sugar is steady, your body does not trigger the release of the dreaded fat-storage hormones!
► Fiber is a pre-biotic – Scientists define pre-biotics as “nondigestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, thus improving host health” (Ref). In other words, it promotes good bacteria in our digestive tracts and promotes belly-fat reduction!
► It reduces calories and fat in our system – Tanya Zuckerman, the author of The Miracle Carb Diet (affiliate link) likens fiber to a sponge in our digestive tract which absorbs, fat, toxins and even excess calories. These then get eliminated together with the fiber.
A Sampler Of Healthy High Fiber Foods For Your Diet
Here I’ll only provide you with just a sampler of of high fiber foods. Read the following article to get a more extensive list of these foods
Before you consider the high-fiber foods for your diet also consider your sugar intake we talked about on day 5 of the weight loss plan. You do not want to overload your diet with foods full of unwanted sugar (particularly fructose) because that will negate the effect you are trying to create with a high fiber diet.
Rather than loading yourself with with too many fruits, stick to vegetables and grains (but do include some fruits in your eating plan).
Here you can start with any of these commonly eaten foods listed below:
- 1/2 cup Fiber One cereal – 14 g
- 1 slice of whole wheat bread – 3 g to 6 g
- 1 cup cooked oatmeal – 4 g, you can sprinkle the oatmeal with hemp hearts or chia seeds to add another 4 grams of fiber to your cereal
- 1 cup cooked lentils – 16 g
- 1 cup cooked black beans – 15 g
- 1 cup cooked whole wheat pasta – 6 g
- 1 apple – 5 g
- 1 pear – 6 g
- 1 orange – 3 g
- 1 cup of raspberries – 8 g
- 1 cup of blackberries – 7 g
- 1 artichoke – 10.3 g
- 1 cup of cooked kale – 7.2 g
- 1 cup of cooked spinach – 4.3 g
- 1 avocado – 11 g
As you can see just from this small sample of fruits and vegetables there is a lot to choose from. Green beans, peas, cabbage, brussel sprouts, blackberries and many more. You can see the list here…
How To Start Including Fiber Into Your Diet
This heading might sound strange to you, but trust me it is an important topic. First, go through the typical foods you eat during the day and find out how much fiber is contained within these foods. This will tell you the amount of this essential dietary component you are consuming. If you are on a low side DO NOT instantly increase your intake to 30 grams. If you do, you may find that you get bloated and even experience stomach ache.
Introduce the dietary fiber slowly into your meal plans. An increase of a few grams per day until you reach the limit should be fine. Don’t go beyond the daily recommended fiber intake of 30 grams if you are a woman and 38 grams if you are a man. Otherwise you will get bloated and uncomfortable.