Anyone who has been on a weight loss program at our center has heard about the importance of fiber in your diet. By calculating the effective carbohydrate content of our food, we determine how much fiber is in each food and try to get more of it in our diets.
Why is fiber our new best friend? Fiber is great for weight loss. First of all, its bulkiness gives you a feeling of fullness, and it is calorie-free! It also has a lot of health benefits. Research shows that a diet high in fiber can reduce cholesterol and the diseases associated with it, as well as improving your glucose tolerance. This helps control swings in blood sugar.
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. It is best to try to get both kinds into your diet. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and has been linked to lowering bad cholesterol or low-density lipoproteins (LDL’s). The other fiber-insoluble cleans out your gut and is associated with reducing risk for cardiovascular disease.
Fiber is found naturally in whole grains, fruits, vegetable and nuts and there are many fortified products on the market. Try looking for products that are 100% whole wheat and have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Choose brown rice instead of white, or mix them if you don’t like brown as much. Find whole-wheat pastas and breads in your grocery store. Sprinkle nuts on your salad, in yogurt and in cereals. Snack on fruits and vegetables. No longer are fiber foods twiggy and bland! There are delicious options out there.
So, how much fiber should you get? If you are under 50 and a woman, you should shoot for 25 grams, and 38 for a man. If you are over 50 it is 30 grams for a man and 21 for a woman.
Remember to work up to it slowly. DO NOT run out and eat all the fiber you can. Adding too much fiber at once can cause nausea and other gastrointestinal distress. Add just a few grams each day until you reach your recommended daily allowance. Along with the fiber, be sure to drink more water, as fiber absorbs water, and you want to make sure to keep things moving.