Have you avoided pasta, pizza, bread and the like during diets so far? What if we showed you a way in which you can eat all of this and not have a guilty conscience? The magic word is: dietary fiber. Find out in our article how a high-fiber diet can help you lose weight and how you can easily incorporate this into your everyday life.
Dietary fiber: Ballast that nobody needs
Dietary fiber is actually something we don’t need. And in fact, when scientists discovered dietary fiber, they thought that our bodies could not utilize these substances and were therefore unnecessary ballast. Hence the name dietary fiber. However, several years have passed since then, during which scientific studies have shown that these substances are not as useless as suspected. But let’s start at the beginning:
What are dietary fibers?
Dietary fibers are fibrous substances from plants that are found in our food. Strictly speaking, they are very complex carbohydrates that cannot be broken down by humans. However, some bacteria have the ability to break down dietary fiber and extract energy from it. It is precisely these bacteria that are found in our large intestine. Thus, we are able to draw energy from fiber in a roundabout way. Chemically, there are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers swell much better in the stomach and intestines and are therefore also called swelling agents, but they can hardly be utilized by the intestinal bacteria. Insoluble fibers bind smaller amounts of liquid, but are ideal food for the intestinal bacteria. This is important to know for your diet, because you can only benefit from all effects if you eat a mix of different fiber sources.
How does fiber affect the body and why does it help you lose weight?
Surely you have already heard that you should eat apples with skin and that whole grain products are healthier than foods made from white flour. One of the reasons for this is the fiber they contain. Let’s take a look together at why these substances are so healthy and how you can lose weight with fiber.
What are the health benefits of dietary fiber?
Scientists are now certain that dietary fiber is anything but useless. Because they can help prevent some diseases. Dietary fiber:
- reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- bind bile acids with cholesterol they contain: this can lower blood cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.
- stabilize blood sugar levels: blood sugar fluctuations are a risk factor for diabetes.
- ensure normal digestion: both in cases of diarrhea and constipation, dietary fibers can be useful digestive aids.
- are food for intestinal bacteria and thus ensure a healthy intestinal flora. This is associated with a strong immune system and overall health.
How does fiber help with your weight loss?
Dietary fiber can do much more for our health, as it is a secret trick for losing weight. A healthy body weight is in turn associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems and much more. But how does dietary fiber help you lose weight? Part of the answer lies in their swelling properties. Dietary fiber swells and fills the stomach without being high in calories. Dietary fiber provides 1.5 to 2.5 kilocalories per gram. In comparison, carbohydrates and protein provide 4 kilocalories and fat even 9 kilocalories per gram. Due to the swelling, the dietary fibers also remain in the stomach significantly longer. In other words, they saturate well and for a long time without providing much energy. Dietary fiber is therefore an ideal measure against rapid hunger after a meal.
High-fiber foods such as whole grains and vegetables must be chewed well. This means that you automatically take more time to eat. Eating slowly helps you to lose weight, because you can only feel that you are full after about 20 minutes. However, we often eat an entire plate in just 10 minutes. We cannot feel hunger and satiety.
Another advantage of dietary fiber in weight loss is its balancing effect on blood sugar levels. While fluctuations in blood sugar levels are partly responsible for cravings and obesity, a stable blood sugar level is ideal for weight loss. This is because less insulin is released. Insulin regulates our blood sugar levels. The hormone is responsible for lowering sugar levels by storing sugar from the blood in cells. When the body secretes insulin, conditions are therefore ideal for building up fatty tissue. High insulin levels are therefore associated with obesity. A diet rich in dietary fiber means that less insulin is secreted, which avoids cravings and weight gain.
Lose weight with dietary fiber – this is how it works
Sounds logical, doesn’t it? But how do you get more fiber into your diet? Here we show you how much fiber is good for you and in which foods it is found.
How many grams of dietary fiber per day should I eat to lose weight?
The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends that adults consume 30 grams of dietary fiber per day. This is quite a lot and is only achieved by a few. The National Nutrition Survey II found that the average intake is 18 grams of fiber per day for women and 19 grams of fiber per day for men. When losing weight, it can be especially difficult to reach the fiber intake of 30 grams because less food is consumed overall. However, there should be at least 14.6 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories. For example: A woman with a height of 1.78 meters and a weight of 112 kilograms eats about 1,500 calories per day during weight loss, then at least 21.9 grams of dietary fiber are advisable. We recommend that you aim for 30 grams of fiber per day, even with a reduced calorie intake, because this will make your plan easier.
Which foods contain fiber?
Only plant foods such as fruits and vegetables and mushrooms contain dietary fiber. They are not found in animal products such as meat, cheese or eggs. Therefore, a recommendation for a good fiber intake is to eat 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit a day. Legumes are particularly rich in fiber. They are ideal for losing weight for another reason: they also contain valuable protein, which additionally satiates well. Also good sources of fiber are (each based on 100 grams):
- Psyllium husks 84 g
- Wheat bran 45 g
- Chia seeds 32 g
- Soybeans 21 g
- Coconut flakes 24 g
- Black salsify 19 g
- Lentils 17 g
- Sesame 12 g
- Jerusalem artichoke 12 g
- Wholemeal pasta (raw) 12 g
- Hazelnuts 10 g
- Oatmeal 8 g
- Wholemeal bread 8 g
- Quinoa 7 g
- Porcini mushrooms 6 g
- Barley/ barley 5 g
- Broccoli 3 g
What do I need to bear in mind when eating a high-fiber diet?
High-fiber foods require liquid to swell, so it is especially important to drink enough. Otherwise, digestive problems, especially constipation, can occur. In addition, bloating or abdominal pain may occur for a short time if the intestines are not used to processing fiber. For this reason, it makes sense to gradually increase your fiber intake. Ideally, you should drink unsweetened tea or water and avoid soft drinks, even if they are light products. A healthy “high fiber diet” contains a colorful mix of different fiber sources. It should include both soluble and insoluble fiber. For you, this means: A diverse mix of whole grains, nuts, mushrooms, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
Conclusion: High-fiber diet & losing weight – a dream team
A diet rich in fiber supports you on your way to your dream weight, because the fiber makes you full for a long time without having many calories and avoids cravings. Dietary fiber is a plant substance and is therefore only found in plant-based foods. By replacing white flour products such as pasta or toast with whole grain products, you are already taking the first step. Also include legumes, vegetables, mushrooms, nuts and fruit in your diet to get plenty of fiber. To avoid intestinal problems, we recommend that you slowly get used to more fiber and drink plenty of water.
The yo-yo effect, ravenous appetite, stress - losing weight can be quite frustrating. But there is a way out for everyone. Together we will find the right solution for you. As a nutritionist at My Weight®, I support my patients individually and personally on their way to their desired weight. Losing weight can and should be fun...and we work on that together! 😊
Maren - Weight Buddy® and Nutritionist at My Weight®