How Fiber Can Help You Lose Weight

By Tracy Olgeaty Gensler, M.S., R.D.

If you're like most Americans, you're probably only getting about half the fiber you need. Our average daily intake is about 15 grams, way short of the minimum 25 grams recommended by leading health authorities and The Best Life Diet. And this deficit hits where it hurts: Your waistline. People who take in adequate amounts of fiber have an easier time losing weight and staying trim than those who don't consume enough. It's not hard to hit your daily fiber goal, especially if you follow the Best Life Diet.

Fiber helps you stay thin because eating foods rich in the nutrient—such as many fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains—make you feel full sooner and longer, and do so for relatively few calories. There are two types of fiber: Soluble and insoluble. The main difference is soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not.

How does each work in the body? Soluble fiber traps carbohydrates in your digestive system and tempers absorption, which causes a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream. This is not only helpful to those with diabetes or pre-diabetes, but it helps quell appetite. (Soluble fiber also binds to dietary cholesterol in the digestive tract, which helps to eliminate it before it can be absorbed. This is why oats and beans, two great sources of soluble fiber, help lower cholesterol.) Insoluble fiber, found in wheat bran, whole wheat, and broccoli, may hamper the absorption of dietary fat, which can help shave off a few calories from your meal. Although you should try to consume a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber, the most important thing is that you get the recommended total amount each day. To do so, try to add some of these fiber-rich foods into your diet:

Apple – 1 medium fruit contains 4 g

Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas and other beans – 1/2 cup cooked or canned contains 6 to 8 g

Blueberries – 1 cup contains 4 g

Bran Flake Cereal – ¾ cup contains about 5 to 6 g; check label as cereals

Broccoli – ½ cup cooked contains 3 g

High-fiber Cereal, such as FiberOne or All bran – ½ cup dry contains 10 to 14 g

Lentils- ¼ cup cooked contains 12 g

Oatmeal – 1 cup prepared contains 4 g

Pear – 1 medium fruit contains 5 g

Whole Wheat Bread – 1 slice (about 80 to 90 calories) contains 3 g

Whole-Wheat Pasta – 1 cup cooked contains 4 g

You can incorporate more of these foods with a few lifestyle changes. For example:

• Have whole fruit instead of fruit juice.

• Serve a bean dish (such as vegetarian chili) instead of meat for dinner at least once a week.

• Toss ½ cup of beans into your salad.

• Begin your day with a cereal with at least 4 grams of fiber per 100 calories.

• Avoid peeling fruits and vegetables, like apples, potatoes, and pears. The skin contains a lot of fiber as well as important phytonutrients.

• Choose brand of bread that offers at least 3 grams of fiber for each one-ounce slice of bread.