Losing weight doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it might be as simple as adding more of one specific nutrient to your diet: fiber.
That’s right, when it comes to weight loss, fiber is king. Research suggests eating more fiber can help you lose weight, even if you don’t make any other changes to your diet or reduce calories. How? For one, fiber is a master satiator! It fills you up quickly and keeps you satisfied longer by slowing down digestion and allowing food to enter your bloodstream at a slower rate.
Fiber is not only great for its appetite-reducing effects, it has other weight-loss benefits, too; they start in the gut.
Fiber helps support a healthy GI tract, which has been shown to have a positive effect on weight. There’s an estimated 100 trillion bacteria living in your large intestine. These organisms are referred to as the gut microbiome. We still don’t know everything these healthy bacteria do, but we do know they can have an impact on various aspects of health, including weight.
Just like you, your gut bacteria need to eat healthy in order to function optimally. When you eat soluble fiber, it travels through your digestive tract until it reaches your gut bacteria, where it’s fermented and used for energy.
During this process, a fatty acid called butyrate is produced. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that increases the release of specific gut hormones that help regulate insulin production and speed up the uptake of glucose in muscle and fatty tissue. This helps manage blood sugar levels and prevents weight gain. Short-chain fatty acids also help regulate fat metabolism by speeding up fat burning and decreasing fat storage. They also help to lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation.
Eating a variety of these fermentable fibers helps ensure you’ll have more diversity in your gut microbiome. Studies suggest that people who have more diverse bacteria living in their gut are likely to have less dangerous visceral belly fat. One study suggests increasing your fiber intake by just 10 grams per day can decrease your risk of gaining visceral belly fat.
Fiber is a powerful tool for decreasing food cravings. When you eat refined carbs and high-sugar foods they can cause post-meal spikes and dips in blood sugar that leave you hungry and vulnerable to overeating. High-fiber foods won’t cause this blood sugar crash, helping you maintain normal blood sugar levels and preventing sugar cravings.
Fiber comes in two forms: insoluble and soluble. Both types play a role in weight loss.
Soluble fiber helps keep your stool soft and slows the digestive process. It mixes with water in the digestive tract and forms a gel. It also acts as a prebiotic, providing gut bacteria with nutrients in a process called fermentation.
Insoluble fiber (sometimes referred to as “roughage”) helps with regularity by speeding up the passage of food through the digestive system. This helps maintain gut health and prevents constipation. It also increases bulk, making stools easier to pass. Insoluble fiber is not fermented by gut bacteria.
You can find soluble fiber in most fruits and vegetables, avocado, whole grains and beans. Good sources of insoluble fiber include fruits eaten with their skin, wheat bran, nuts and seeds, brown rice, and celery.
A diet high in both types of fiber can help with weight loss and prevent weight gain.
If you’re looking for an easy way to kickstart your weight loss, start adding fiber to your daily intake! It will help keep you full and satisfied between meals, and support a healthy gut microbiome, making it a powerful weight-loss weapon. Fiber also lowers your risk for conditions like Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and heart disease — all of which can affect your weight.
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