Fiber for fat loss, are you crazy? That's right folks, fiber can actually help you lose fat. We all know that fiber will help fight against heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes and colon cancer, but it also plays a role in fighting obesity. Fiber is a compound that only plants contain. The fiber we consume from plant foods is called dietary fiber. Dietary fiber only comes from plant foods (i.e. grains, oats, fruits, etc.); it is never in animal foods (i.e. meats). Dietary fiber can be broken down into two forms, soluble and insoluble fiber. Though there is no daily recommended amount of fiber, health experts recommend consuming 20-35 grams of fiber per day. On average, most Americans consume only 12 grams of fiber a day.
Soluble fiber, as the name implies, dissolves in water. These fibers bind to bile acids and excrete them from the small intestine. Sur cholesterol is disposed of in the liver as bile acids. Bile acids are then transported to the small intestine where they aid in lipid digestion. Bile acids are also essential for the absorption of these digested products. This binding of bile acids would help to decrease the cholesterol levels in the blood. It has also been said that soluble fibers help to regulate blood sugar levels.
Insoluble fiber, again as the name implies, does not dissolve in water. This type of fiber is known as roughage. Though it is not dissolvable in water, it does absorb it, causing an increase in fiber bulk. Bulking agents help to clear the gastrointestinal track of all its waste. 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 responsible for the full feeling you get after eating them. This helps dieters by allowing them to eat fewer calories without feeling hungry afterwards. Insoluble fibers are hard to digest, so when they finally get to a point where they can be released into the intestine, they are still slightly intact. It is this reason that they make up the bulk of your stool. Since the insoluble fibers are only partially digested, it is hard for the undigested calories to be taken up by the intestine. By reducing calories and decreasing the amount of cholesterol in the blood, one could potentially lose weight/fat.
The Best Sources Of Fiber
The best source of fiber is from dietary foods. This is because they also provide other minerals and nutrients your body needs. If you are consuming enough fiber rich foods, there is no point in taking a fiber supplement. By following the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food pyramid it should not be hard to consume enough fiber a day. The table below lists a number of fiber rich foods.
Fiber supplements do not offer the same benefits that dietary fibers do. In 1991, the FDA banned many over-the-counter diet aids, with fiber-containing substances, because they did not show any evidence of being safe and effective weight loss agents. Before taking any kind of fiber supplement it is best to check with you physician.
Fiber is a good natural way of helping to reduce body fat. It does not metabolize fat quicker or more efficiently, but it will help you by decreasing the intake of calories. It will also reduce the amount of free cholesterol in the blood. Fiber is also a natural and easy way of preventing colon cancer, heat disease and diabetes. Fiber is something that everyone should be consuming more of; there are too many reasons for you not to.
A Word Of Caution
When increasing the fiber content of your diet, it is best to take it slow. Add just a few grams at a time to allow the intestinal tract to adjust; otherwise, abdominal cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation may result. Another way to help minimize these effects is by drinking at least 2 liters (8 cups) of fluid daily. (Reprinted from FDA Consumer)
- Hatfield, Frederick. Fitness: The Complete Guide. 7th Edition. 2001.