Weight loss is affected by many things, including when you eat, and the composition of your meals -- the amount of fats, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and water content, metabolism, genetics, stress and exercise to name a few.
One particular missing element in the formula for losing weight is dietary fiber; in fact a lack of adequate dietary fiber will eventually stall any weight loss efforts known as the dreaded “Plateau”. Today many people eat way too many refined carbohydrates and overly processed foods.
Dr. Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of “The Volumetrics Eating Plan” says, “Studies show that most people eat about the same weight of food each day. If you choose high-fiber, water-rich foods -- such as broth-based vegetable soups, salads, fruits, and vegetables -- instead of foods without fiber and water, you can eat the same weight of food but feel full on fewer calories”.
Dr. Susan Roberts, PhD, Tufts University researcher and professor of nutrition has shown that people who eat 35 to 45 grams of fiber a day are less hungry when losing weight and lose more weight than people who eat less fiber.
Reported in the “Journal of Nutrition”, over the course of the two-year study, the researchers found that boosting fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories resulted in about 4 ½ pounds of weight lost.
There are two forms of fiber, water-soluble and water-insoluble.
Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. This slows stomach digestion (gastric emptying) making you feel full longer, while it stimulates digestive enzyme release. This enables better digestion of food as well as slows the rate of calorie surge into your blood and results in better metabolic control to support healthy cholesterol, blood sugar metabolism and less fat storage.
Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. Psyllium, a frequently used fiber supplement, is 70 percent soluble fiber and 10 percent insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber does not absorb or dissolve in water. It passes through our digestive system in close to its original form. Though it is not dissolvable in water, it does absorb it, causing an increase in fiber bulk. Bulking agents help to scrub and clear the gastrointestinal track of waste products. By regular consumption of these fibers, the amount of time digested food sits in the intestine is decreased. This helps keep the body from absorbing starch and sugars in the intestine.
Insoluble fiber is typically in skins of fruit and structural components of grains and vegetables. It provides bulk to your stools, helps your colon contents move along in a timely manner, and helps clear toxins and prevent constipation. Whole grains contain large amounts of insoluble fiber, the less processed they are the more original fiber content, such as steel cut oatmeal versus instant oatmeal.
Most vegetables are a combination of insoluble and soluble fiber. The structural, tougher fibers are insoluble, while the pulpy parts are soluble. Fruits are mostly soluble fiber, unless you eat the skins.
Both types of fiber help weight loss by acting as a “sponge” for toxic waste. Stored fat is not only a warehouse for surplus calories but also a storage bin for excess fat-soluble toxins. In some cases your body will not give up a toxic layer of fat, as a defense mechanism to prevent toxin release, unless a proper elimination method is provided.
Get to know the fiber content of your foods.
For instance: a medium raw apple (3 inch diameter) contains 4 grams, 1 cup green beans 4 grams, 1 medium size baked sweet potato ( 2 inches wide, 5 inches long) about the size of a computer mouse, skin included offers 5 grams, 1 cup of raspberries has 8 grams, ¾ cup of chickpeas has a whopping 8 grams, 1 cup cooked pumpkin 3 grams, and ¼ dry steel cut oats contains 4 grams (2 soluble and 2 insoluble) and provides 150 calories and 5 grams of protein. Steel cut oats are naturally low fat and not cholesterol or sodium. Add a few berries and what a great breakfast!
According to Dr. Michael Murray N.D., author and consultant to Natural Factors, the supplement PGX (short for PolyGlycoPlex) is a completely new and unique fiber matrix.
Via a special process natural fibers are transformed to make PGX the most viscous and soluble fiber ever discovered. What this means is that all of the health benefits linked to soluble dietary fibers – including stabilizing blood sugar levels and the promotion of weight loss– are significantly magnified. The PGX matrix is able to bind roughly hundreds of times its weight in water resulting in a volume and viscosity three to five times greater than other highly soluble fibers like psyllium or oats.
He says to put this in perspective, a small, five gram serving of PGX in a meal replacement formula or on its own produces a volume and viscosity that would be equal to as much as 4 bowls of oat bran. In this way, small quantities of PGX can be added to foods or taken as a drink or capsules before meals to have an impact on appetite and blood sugar control equivalent to eating enormous and impractical quantities of any other form of fiber.
It’s always best to add fiber slowly to the diet to allow your digestive tract to adjust. Too much Fiber at one time can either speed up bowel movements causing looser stools or slow down causing constipation. If constipation occurs add some magnesium to your diet and make sure you are drinking enough water.
So I say, it’s the beginning of a New Year and for those of us who have some extra fat poundage to lose, add some fiber to the diet to help us towards achieving our 2015 healthy weight loss goals!
Jane Jansen Naturopath