Did you know that fiber can actually help you lose fat. We all know that fiber will help fight against heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes and colon cancer, but it also plays a role in fighting obesity. Fiber is a compound that only plants contain. The fiber we consume from plant foods is called dietary fiber. Dietary fiber only comes from plant foods (i.e. grains, oats, fruits, etc.); it is never in animal foods (i.e. meats). Dietary fiber can be broken down into two forms, soluble and insoluble fiber.
Fiber is a good natural way of helping to reduce body fat. It does not metabolize fat quicker or more efficiently, but it will help you by decreasing the intake of calories. It will also reduce the amount of free cholesterol in the blood. Fiber is also a natural and easy way of preventing colon cancer, heat disease and diabetes. Fiber is something that everyone should be consuming more of; there are too many reasons for you not to.
Foods high in fiber often require more chewing, so a person is less likely to eat a large number of calories in a short amount of time. And, due to its water-absorbing abilities, fiber will make you feel full for a long time.
When soluble fiber combines with water, it swells the stomach giving a greater feeling that hunger has been satisfied without adding excess calories. Fiber also slows the digestion process resulting in feelings of hunger occurring less frequently and providing our bodies the time needed to properly absorb nutrients.
Insoluble fiber cannot be digested by the human digestive system and, as it passes through the colon, it takes with it all the accumulated metabolic waste material – the stuff that makes us fat.
A fiber-rich diet is also likely to be richer in nutrients than a low-fiber diet because fiber is found mainly in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds – all very healthy foods and great for weight loss.
Dietary Fiber Recommendations
Though there is no daily recommended amount of fiber, health experts recommend adults consume 20-35 grams of fiber per day. Children ages 1 and up should consume at least 19 grams of fiber a day. On average, most Americans consume only 12 grams of fiber a day.
Ways to add fiber to your diet
There are some easy ways to increase your daily intake of dietary fiber. Eating an apple a day along with a handful of nuts is a great way to add dietary fiber to your diet and makes for a great mid-day snack. A medium apple has 3.3 grams of fiber and only 72 calories and is low in natural sugars. Having ¼ of cup of whole, unsalted almonds with your apple provides 2.4 grams of fiber, has 56 calories, is a great source of non-dairy calcium and healthy fats. This is a win-win snack at a total of 128 calories, and 5.7 grams of fiber, is much more nutritious than any snack you’d get in a vending machine and is inexpensive, requires no preparation and is easy to tote along with you. To add an extra burst of flavor to this snack, slice up your apple and sprinkle some cinnamon on it.
Add Psyllium Husk powder to your protein shake to get 2 grams on soluble fiber in your diet. This makes for a great quick, easy breakfast, mid-day snack or post workout meal.
Greek Yogurt is high in calcium and a great source of protein. To add some fiber to this, simply sprinkle 1 teaspoon of whole grain oats on your yogurt to add 1 gram of fiber, and top it off with ½ cup of raspberries which has 4 grams of fiber and 1 tablespoon of walnuts adding another 1.1 grams of fiber. This makes for a great way to start your day, or have as a mid-day snack.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with greens so you do want to make sure you eat your vegetables. Try having salad greens at least once a day and have a serving of green vegetables such a broccoli, kale or collards with your meals. There are so many great, satisfying, flavorful meals you can make with vegetables.
Getting fiber in your diet isn’t as hard as it sounds and doesn’t mean you’ll be eating foods that taste like cardboard. Many of the foods mentioned are packed with flavor, are rich in nutrients, and are great for your health and your waistline.
If you’re having difficulty getting your children to eat vegetables or you’re stuck on ways of being creative with vegetable dishes as a main dish or side dish, check out Easy Veggie Meal Plans where you’ll find an abundance of easy to make, flavorful dishes with vegetables that will help you add flavorful, nutrient, fiber rich foods to your diet and your family’s diet.