Will Fiber Help You Lose Weight?
When a client first comes to UEFP our immediate goal is to look over their nutrition practices and address any urgent issues. This usually means trying to eliminate simple sugars, increasing essential fat intake, and trying to up their fiber intake. Some clients are anticipating something a bit more tantalizing: like a secret underground diet or some miracle drink. Apparently “eating more fiber” won’t make the headlines of any weight loss magazines.
But I wouldn’t be very successful if I kept secrets from my clients. In reality, fiber intake is a major concern – I have yet to meet a single client who gets adequate fiber intake per day. Usually clients take in an average of 6-8 grams of fiber per day. This is hardly enough; while general recommendations aim for 25 grams a day, some nutrition experts argue for a higher intake of 35 grams for women and 48 for men.
Fiber is crucial because of the role it plays in your body. Think of your digestive system like the plumbing inside your house; fiber acts as a cleaning system to make sure that there are no backups in the pipes. In order to have an efficient metabolism, you have to make sure that the food you eat is broken down properly and sent where it needs to go (i.e., protein goes to repair muscle, carbs are broken down and stored, etc). Lastly, you don’t want to the “disposal” to get clogged. Your body needs to be able eliminate any nasty stuff you shouldn’t be holding on to. Hopefully you catch my drift because I’m trying to not to get expose any “TMI.”
High fiber foods like veggies are what we call “nutrient dense foods.” This means that they have a whole host of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants without tacking on a ton of calories. This means that you can a lot of fiber to help clean out your system while not overeating. It’s pretty tough to overeat on broccoli and cauliflower. Fiber will also help keep you satisfied between meals. Researchers cite the fact of consuming a high fiber diet as a way to increase the amount of food you eat while keeping calorie intake low (1). A successful diet is all about a high level of satisfaction. Once we start adding fiber in the diet, clients start noticing the scale dropping. We aim for 1-2 pounds of weight dropped per week; I rarely see a pound dropped per week until fiber intake gets around 20 grams a day.
I mentioned how there really is no secret diet formula, but maybe fiber could be your secret weapon for weight loss. Start slow – the last thing you want it to triple your fiber intake in one day. Add a serving of veggies every few days and you’ll be shocked by the changes that occur after several months.
1. Manore, M.M. “Weight Management for Athletes and Active Individuals: A Brief Review.” (2015) Sports Medicine 45;1. 83-92