Fiber may not be cool, but a healthy weight definitely is — and fiber can help you get to and stay at a healthy weight. You may have been hearing a lot about the keto diet or have friends who are going low carb, but a certain type of carbohydrate is good for you, for numerous reasons.
At Living Waters Regenerative Medicine Center, our team, led by Dr. Deborah Viglione, works to help people in and around Gulf Breeze, Florida, live their best life. And that certainly includes identifying a nutritional plan that meets your needs and is one that you enjoy.
One of the keys to weight loss and weight maintenance is consuming enough fiber.
What is fiber, anyway?
Interestingly, fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body can’t digest. There are two different kinds of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Each one has specific properties that can improve your health and help you get to or stay at a healthy weight.
This kind of fiber doesn’t dissolve in water. It’s found in foods like the skin of many types of fruits and vegetables, including apples and potatoes, as well as in whole wheat flour, bran, nuts, and seeds.
As insoluble fiber moves through your digestive tract, it stays whole. Insoluble fiber can improve insulin sensitivity and helps you have regular bowel movements.
As you might have guessed, soluble fiber does dissolve in water. As it passes through your digestive system, it forms a thick gel-like substance that slows down the digestive process. Slower digestion means you feel full for longer after you eat — an important contributor to weight control.
Soluble fiber also helps your blood sugar stay stable and can lower cholesterol. If you have diabetes, these factors make insoluble fiber particularly important. Fruits, vegetables, oats, peas, and legumes contain high concentrations of soluble fiber.
How much fiber should I eat?
The recommended daily amount of fiber depends on your gender and your age. Women 19-50 years old should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day, and women over 50 should eat 21 grams of fiber each day. Men 19-50 should consume 38 grams of fiber, and men over 50 should eat 30 grams daily.
Most Americans eat much less than the recommended amount, with experts estimating the average around 15 grams per day.
If you’re adding fiber to your diet, do so slowly. If you double the amount of fiber you eat in a day, you’re likely to have some gastrointestinal discomfort like bloating and gas. Aim to add around 5 grams per day gradually.
What should I eat?
Balanced nutrition is tricky, and it’s important to talk to Dr. Viglione about your diet. She may recommend blood work before making suggestions in order to understand if you have any deficiencies or need any supplements.
If you’re aiming to increase the amount of fiber you eat, here are a few suggestions:
- Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain around 10 grams of fiber, so you could make a chia pudding or add the seeds to your smoothies, salads, or oatmeal
- Black beans (8.3 grams per half-cup), chickpeas (8.1 grams per half-cup), white beans (6.3 grams per half-cup) and lentils (7.8 grams per half-cup) are also good sources of fiber and have other health benefits because they’re a good source of lean protein; try adding them to roasted vegetables, stir frys, or soups
- Berries — including strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries — are excellent sources of fiber, varying from 4-8 grams per cup; eat them as snacks or add them to cereals or yogurt
- Certain grains are good sources of fiber; for example, one slice of whole wheat bread has 3 grams of fiber, and 3 cups of popcorn contains 3.5 grams
If you’d like personalized recommendations that fit into your weight control efforts, schedule an appointment to discuss medical weight loss with Dr. Viglione. She can provide nutrition, supplement, and exercise guidance to help you reach a healthy weight.