Most people are generally aware that fiber is "good for you". Many may not know that fiber plays an extremely important role in our diets, from how healthy our digestive system is to our ability to lose weight. Since we do stay focused on calories, carbs, and fat, the average American ends up getting roughly half or less of their recommended daily amount of fiber.
Go With Your Gut
The right amount of fiber is important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract. A healthy gut brings a wide variety of benefits. One that's not-so-healthy, however, means problems that contribute to your ability to exercise and properly digest.
No matter how much motivation one might have to exercise, if they wake up feeling tired and sick often, they likely aren't going to make it to the gym. An unhealthy gut plays a huge part in how we feel. It can cause chronic inflammation and a weakened immune system. This is because almost 80% of the body's immune system is in the gut.
Gut health also plays an important role in weight loss. Research suggests that certain bacteria in our gut feed on sugars as a food source. This has an effect on our appetite as they try to obtain the fuel source that helps them reproduce. In addition, these bad bacteria can ultimately cause the body to store extra fat because they thrive on sugar, carbs and fats. This triggers inflammation of the intestine, which stores even more fat.
Fiber: The Simplest Way to Help Weight Loss
There are many combinations of diet and exercise advice to help lose weight. Since they tend to be complicated and may or may not work for different individuals, research suggests that the easiest thing to focus on is fiber.
An eye-opening study recently suggested fiber is an excellent, and possibly more effective, step that can be taken to help weight loss. It found doing one thing may be superior to the approach of not doing several things. From the study:
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School compared the effectiveness of two diets with help from 240 volunteers. Half were asked to follow the American Heart Association’s (AHA) diet for preventing heart disease, in which you try to eat more fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods, fish, and lean protein but also cut back on salt, sugar, fat, and alcohol. The other half were asked to follow a diet in which the only goal was to eat 30 grams or more of fiber each day. Neither group received advice or recommendations for exercise. All of the volunteers had metabolic syndrome — that is, all of them had high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol, and were overweight. This cluster of health issues greatly increases the risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The participants in each group averaged 19 grams of fiber a day. Both groups lost weight, lowered their blood pressure, and improved their response to insulin. Those following the AHA diet lost a bit more weight (5.9 pounds) than those on the high-fiber diet (4.6 pounds), but both groups were able to maintain their weight loss for 12 months.
Read more on this study at harvard.edu
How Much Fiber You Need (And How to Get It)
Fiber's health benefits range from weight loss to gut health. It also helps lower cholesterol and keeping blood sugar under control. Women should target 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should shoot for a bit higher, up to 38 grams of fiber a day. If over the age of 51, women can target 21 grams and men 30 grams a day.
There are many ways to get fiber, but note that fiber is only found in plant-based foods, not meats.
Some examples of good fiber sources are:
- Apples (4.4g of fiber for a medium-sized apple)
- Avocado (10g of fiber in a medium-sized avocado)
- Raspberries (8g of fiber per cup)
- Brown Rice (3.5g of fiber per cup)
- Black Beans (15g of fiber per cup)
- Green Peas (7g of fiber per cup)
- Pears (5.5g of fiber per pear, with skin)
- Whole Grain Bread (6g per slice)
High Fiber Bars for Weight Loss
One popular, convenient way to get extra fiber is to use fiber bars. If you're focusing on the weight loss benefits of fiber, consider trying a combination high protein/high fiber bar, like the WonderSlim Protein+Fiber Bars. These bars are highly rated for flavor, and each contains 15 grams of protein and 7 to 12 grams of fiber.
By combining protein and fiber together, you're likely to stay full much longer. Plus, you'll be getting the benefits of fiber on digestive health.
Learn more and browse our selection online at dietdirect.com.