Do High Fiber Diets Help You Lose Weight?
While you've more than likely heard it a million times, that you should eat fiber because it's good for you, you've more than likely also been told that it's bad for you considering it's a carbohydrate. So, what should we make of this?
In order to shed more light on this matter, let's take a closer look at what fiber is and what role it plays.
What Exactly Is Fiber?
Yes it is true that fiber is a form of carbohydrate but there's a fundamental difference between fiber and regular carbohydrates, in that fiber is not broken down during digestion.
While simple carbs and complex carbs ( sugar and starch) are both broken down by enzymes during digestion in order to release energy, fiber is not, at least not very much. This unique quality thus results in several benefits.
Why Are High Fiber Diets So Beneficial?
Because fiber generally doesn't dissolve in water, it passes through the digestive system and as a result, it forms the bulk of stools. Apart from preventing constipation, it also travels through the intestines quite rapidly which in turn causes signals to be sent to the brain indicating that you're full, thus preventing you from over eating. Of course, because it discourages over eating, you're less likely to consume excessive calories as well.
Insoluble fiber is readily available in foods such as wheat bran, most nuts, whole-wheat flour and also in numerous vegetables.
Soluble fiber on the other hand does dissolve, forming a kind of gel as it moves through the digestive system. This in turn helps to clean bacteria out as well as regulate blood sugar levels.
Just as with insoluble fiber, soluble fiber is also readily available in many foods such as beans, carrots, citrus fruit, apples, barley and oats.
Studies have shown that a high fiber diet helps to reduce the risk of heart disease because of its ability to reduce LDL, which is essentially undesirable cholesterol.
It also slows the absorption rate of sugar contained in food, which helps smooth out any spikes. That helps improve a number called the Glycemic Index, one key to a healthy diet according to some diet programs such as the South Beach Diet.
Of course, have the ability to control blood glucose levels is highly beneficial, according to many independent studies. Insulin levels are directly related to blood glucose levels and excessive glucose over an extended period of time dramatically increases the odds of acquiring Type 2 diabetes. A high fiber diet can significantly reduce those odds.
Furthermore, because fiber doesn't break down, it results in a feeling of being full without any risk of your body storing calories in the form of fat, hence it's importance in any weight loss diet.
How Much Fiber Should We Eat Daily?
While there is essentially no official RDA with regards to fiber, health professional recommend approximately 25 grams per day. Unfortunately, the average persom only consumes about 15 grams per day.
Interestingly enough, the Massachusetts Medical School conducted a study involving 500 people and determined that those who consumed 22 grams or more of fiber daily, were 63% less likely to suffer from high CRP levels and thus, less chance of developing heart disease or diabetes.
Of course, as with most things diet related, the importance of fiber can be exaggerated from time to time but on the other hand, numerous studies do show that fiber is crucial in a healthy diet.