Losing weight is a prolonged process, and it is crucial to load up on low-calorie and nutrient-dense foods that induce and encourage weight loss. Most health researchers have given a thumbs up to fiber-rich foods because of their bulking abilities that help stimulate our metabolism and further support to lose extra kilos.
Now, how do fiber-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc really function to shed your body fat? So they even help you shed weight, or is it just a myth? Fiber feeds the friendly bacteria in our gut called gut flora . All these bacteria, too, need to eat adequately.
This is where fiber comes into play. It passes through our digestive system mostly unaltered, reaching the friendly bacteria in the intestine that end up digesting the fiber and converting it into usable energy.
What is Fiber?
Most of us are unaware that fiber is a carbohydrate present in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, seeds, etc. but aren’t conveniently digested by our body . Hence, it passes rapidly through our system without causing the blood sugar levels to increase.
This is mostly why people with diabetes are recommended to consume more fiber-rich foods. Fiber is classified into insoluble and soluble fibers, depending on whether they dissolve in liquids.
Do Fiber-Rich Foods Help In Losing Weight?
1. Fiber Feeds Your Friendly Gut Bacteria
Approximately 100 trillion bacteria live in our gut, primarily in the large intestine. Along with other microbes found in our digestive system, these bacteria are often called the gut microbiome or gut flora.
Different bacteria species play essential roles in various aspects of health, including blood sugar control, weight management, immunity, and even brain function.
The fiber that benefits our gut bacteria is known as fermentable fiber or prebiotic fiber. It is regarded as extremely beneficial for body weight and health.
Few insoluble fibers, like resistant starch, also function as prebiotics.
2. Good Bacteria Help Battle Inflammation
Gut bacteria are reputed for their effect on chronic inflammation. They produce nutrients for our body, including short-chain fatty acids that feed the cells in our colon. This leads to improvements in related inflammatory disorders and reduced gut inflammation.
To clarify, short-term (acute) inflammation is beneficial because it helps our body repair damaged cells and fight foreign invaders.
However, long-term (chronic) inflammation is a severe problem because it can begin to fight our body’s tissues.
Low-level chronic inflammation plays a significant role in almost every chronic Western disease, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and metabolic syndrome. There is also adequate evidence that inflammation is associated with obesity and weight gain.
Several observational studies show that a high fiber intake is associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers in the bloodstream.
3. Viscous Fiber May Minimize our Appetite, Helping Us Eat Less
We should be in a calorie deficit to shed weight. That is, more energy (calories) needs to be leaving our body than entering it. As such, counting calories helps several people — but it’s not necessary if we choose the proper foods.
Anything that reduces our appetite can decrease our calorie intake. With less appetite, we can shed weight without even having to mull about it. Fiber is often known to suppress our appetite. However, evidence indicates that only a particular kind of fiber has this effect.
The latest 44 studies review demonstrated that while 39% of fiber treatments increased fullness, only 22% minimized food intake.
The more viscous the fiber, the more helpful it is at minimizing food intake and appetite. Put simply, the viscosity of a substance indicates its stickiness and thickness. For instance, honey is exceptionally more viscous than water.
Viscous, soluble fibers such as beta-glucans, pectins, glucomannan, psyllium, and guar gum all thicken in water, making a gel-like substance that sits in our gut.
This gel slows the emptying of our stomach, increasing absorption times, and digestion. The end result is a lengthy feeling of fullness and a remarkably minimized appetite.
Some evidence indicates that fiber’s weight loss effects particularly target belly fat, which is the harmful fat in our abdominal cavity that is strongly linked with metabolic disease.
Are Fiber Supplements Effective for Weight Loss?
Fiber supplements are generally prepared by isolating the fiber from plants.While these isolated fibers can have some health advantages, the evidence for weight control is unconvincing and mixed.
A very large review study found that guar gum and psyllium — both viscous, soluble fibers — are not as effective as weight loss supplements.
One prominent exception is glucomannan, a fiber extracted from the konjac root. This remarkably viscous dietary fiber causes modest weight loss when used as a supplement. However, supplementing with isolated nutrients does not make much difference on its own.
For an indelible impact, we should combine fiber supplements with other healthy weight loss measures.
Although glucomannan and other such soluble fiber supplements are a great option, it’s best to focus our diet on whole plant foods.
Rich Sources of Viscous Fiber
Viscous fibers are present exclusively in plant foods. Rich sources include legumes and beans, asparagus, flax seeds, oats, and Brussels sprouts . If you’re planning to shift to a high-fiber diet, remember to do it slowly to give your body time to adapt.
Cramps, abdominal discomfort, and even diarrhea are common side effects if you ramp up your fiber intake too rapidly.
Consuming more foods rich in fiber — particularly viscous fiber — can be an effective strategy to shed weight. However, like several weight loss techniques, it won’t lead to long-term results unless we pair it with a lasting lifestyle alteration.
Remember that fiber supplements likely have less of an overall health impact than fiber-rich whole foods.
Additionally, remember that health isn’t all about body weight. Taking plenty of fiber from real foods can have several other health benefits.