weight loss diet is a high fiber diet with a low calorie density
What exactly is the "fiber" in a high fiber diet?
Years ago people called it roughage. It is the structural part of
plants. Fiber is the part of our food that we cannot digest in our
stomach or small intestine. It passes through them to
the large intestine. Some animal foods, like a tough piece of
steak, seem to be
fibrous. They are not. No animal food contains fiber.
There are two kinds of fiber
Insoluble fiber absorbs water.
It is like a sponge in our digestive tract. It swells up and
fills our stomach. It helps move food through our
Some common sources of insoluble fiber are whole grains, vegetables,
flax seeds, and the skins of some fruits.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water
in our stomach and forms a gel. The pectin we use to make jam or jelly
is a soluble fiber. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol levels by
escorting cholesterol out of our body.
When soluble fiber gets to the colon,
bacteria in the colon make it ferment. For this reason, some scientists
call it fermentable fiber.
The fermentation process gives off gases
(beans contain lots of soluble fiber). Fermentation also produces some
healthy short chain fatty acids that
our body absorbs from the colon.
Some common sources of soluble fiber are oats, beans, vegetables, and
the pulp of fruits. All
plant foods contain both insoluble and soluble
fiber, although some are better sources of one than the
Fiber for weight loss
A study published in the Journal of the American
Dietetic Association found that:
Thin people eat more fiber and
carbohydrates than fat people do.
Fat people eat more fat,
saturated fat, and cholesterol than do thin people.
These results make it clear: thin
more plants and fat people eat more animal
foods and oils. Voila! This study has discovered the
loss diet: a high fiber, low fat vegan diet.
And the perfect diet for
making yourself fat is a diet full of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy
products, and oils. Hmmmm, that sounds like the diet that
America has now exported to nearly every country
in the world.
How does fiber
help with weight loss?
Fiber helps fill our stomach
so we are satisfied before we eat too many calories.
Our stomach empties more slowly
when we are on a high fiber diet....so more time goes by before we get
slows down the absorption of
carbohydrates. This means that glucose (sugar) is released
bloodstream slowly over a period of hours. Our
produces insulin slowly. We have time to burn our calories
instead of storing them as fat.
One of the short chain fatty acids that we
absorb from our colon is butyric acid. It goes through the liver and
into the bloodstream. It tells the liver not to release too much
glycogen for energy, so we can burn more fat
instead. It also tells the pancreas not to produce too much insulin.
Fiber blocks some calories
so we don't absorb them at all.
We actually have to chew
high fiber foods before we can swallow them....what a novel thought.
So, it takes longer to eat high fiber foods. A high fiber diet gives
our hunger feedback system a chance to say "you've had enough" before
we eat too many calories.
How much fiber should we eat?
Americans take in 12
to 18 grams of fiber per day. The American
Dietetic Association says we should increase it to at least 20 to 35
grams a day, depending on our calorie intake.
But wait a minute. In
African villages, where people eat lots of high fiber foods, they
average 50 grams of fiber a day. Some people get as many
grams, and they never get colon cancer. Now that is a true
high fiber diet! If
only unprocessed whole plant foods, we can get as much
fiber as the Africans.
Some people worry that too much fiber in our
diet will block our absorption of vitamins and minerals. There is no
evidence for this if the fiber comes from whole plant foods. A
high fiber diet is the natural diet for our species.
In fact, fermentable (soluble) fiber actually improves our absorption
nutrients, such as calcium.
It is possible that fiber supplements could
affect nutrient absorption. Your body loves fiber from whole plant
foods, not from supplements. So make your body happy. This
is how to choose the best high fiber foods for successful weight loss.