Dietary Fiber Can It Help You with Weight Loss?Fiber is classified as a carbohydrate but unlike other carbohydrates, fiber supplies no vitamins or minerals and very few calories. Nevertheless, it plays an important role in the body. Fiber can help your weight loss efforts IF you make the right choices!
There are two basic types of fiber: fiber that dissolves in water (water soluble fiber) and fiber that does not (water insoluble fiber). These names are usually shortened to just soluble and insoluble fiber.
Citrus fruits, apples, potatoes, dried peas and beans, oatmeal and oat bran are good sources of soluble fiber. This type of fiber may be helpful in lowering blood cholesterol levels. It also helps to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates and the release of glucose into the blood. The slower release of glucose plays a role in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Insoluble fibers are found in whole-grain breads and cereals such as wheat bran and whole wheat, and in certain fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, asparagus, and pears. These fibers cannot dissolve in water but they can absorb water. By adding bulk, insoluble fibers facilitate the passage of food through the intestines and soften stools. This helps to keep the colon healthy.
Both soluble and insoluble fibers pass through the stomach and small intestine undigested. However, when these fibers reach the large intestine they may be partially or completely fermented by colonic bacteria.
Fermentation produces gas, an unwelcome byproduct for most people! But it also produces the short chain fatty acids that provide the important health benefits of fiber?moderation of blood glucose and lipid levels, maintaining a healthy colon, and regulating immune responses.
So how does fiber help you with weight loss? By eating whole grains and other high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans you can fill up on lower calorie foods. The fiber gives you a sense of fullness and satisfaction with fewer calories! Plus you have the added benefit of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (the source of antioxidants and other healthy compounds) present in these foods that are also important for good health.
You need approximately 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day. Because each of the fibers provides different benefits, try to include both soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet each day. If you consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grain breads and cereals you should be fine.
Do keep in mind that the health benefits described in this article come from eating what is called "dietary fiber" not "functional fiber". What is functional fiber? This is fiber that has been isolated from foods, rather than the dietary fiber that occurs naturally in foods.
Functional fiber is something that manufacturers add to food products to increase the bulk without adding significant calories. Some examples of functional fiber are cellulose, maltodextran, polydextrose, and inulin. These fibers may provide some of the benefits of dietary fiber but only more research will tell.
Fortunately, very low carb diets are no longer the popular craze they were a few years ago. However some people are still choosing low carb options.
Should you should consider a low carb diet plan be sure to determine if the food choices for the plan will provide you with enough fiber. A carefully chosen low carb diet (20-40 percent carbohydrates) may yield enough fiber to keep you healthy. But very low carbohydrate diets (less than 20 percent could be a problem over time.
Lori Pirog, M.S. is a Nutritionist who shares her knowledge of healthy eating and weight management in her articles, blogs, and websites. To learn more about weight loss, diets, nutrition, and exercise for women visit: http://womenandweight.com/blog/