You’ve tried the hot dog food diet, the banana diet, and the grapefruit diet. You’ve gone through diet pills, sweat suits and supplements. Your home is littered with exercise equipment and videos that promised to help you lose those extra pounds.
But despite your best efforts, you can’t seem to lose weight. What are you doing wrong?
Chances are, you’re not eating enough fibre. Studies show obesity rates are tied to the amount of fiber’s people eat.
In places like Kenya and Uganda, where they eat as much as 60 to 80 grams of fiber daily, less than 15 percent of the population are overweight. But the measly 15 grams a day eaten in more modern societies like India have contributed to the obesity of nearly 40 per cent of adults.
If you’re one of the, you’ll need to change your diet to include more fruits and vegetables because most fiber comes plants. You’ll find it in whole-grain foods, legumes, leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, root vegetables and their skins, and bran flakes.
Besides allowing you more food on your plate, this important diet aid works on several levels to keep you trim.
1. Offers more food per calorie
One of the best things about fiber is that some of its calories don’t count. That’s because much of dietary fiber can’t be digested. But fiber still fills you up.
Experts say eating a diet high in fiber can trick your stomach into feeling full with fewer calories than you would normally eat.
2. Prolongs your meal
Most people would agree that the pleasure of food lies in the eating. A high-fiber diet requires lots of chewing and swallowing, and it can take a good while to finish a meal.
Unlike many diets that limit food, you won’t have to give up the joy of eating when you add fiber to your diet. It might actually take you longer than usual to polish off a lower-calorie-meal.
3. Bulks up in your stomach
Ever finish a small meal while dieting and still feel hunger pangs? That won’t happen if you eat more fiber. Water-soluble fiber absorbs water from your stomach and forms a kind of gel that swells up.
Nerve receptors in your stomach signal your brain that your stomach is full, and you no longer need to eat. By filling up on fiber you can go about your business without constantly feeling hungry.
4. Keeps you satisfied longer
But that’s not all fiber can do. The thick gel it forms slows down the movement of food out of your stomach, so you end up processing your food slowly.
Instead of high-calorie blast of energy that is quickly followed by tiredness and hunger, you energy supply is spread out over time.
5. Stabilizes blood sugar
Experts say this process affects your blood sugar in a healthy way. When you eat dried beans, barley, whole wheat, or pumpernickel bread, these food slowly release their sugars for energy.
Instead of your body getting surges of sugar from food, it gets its energy in steady amounts, which helps control insulin levels. In addition, a high-fiber meal can affect your blood sugar’s response to the next meal you eat, keeping your blood sugar more stable throughout the day.
6. Boost your hormones
You may not know it, but you have hormones working in your gastrointestinal tract. One in particular, called GLP-1, slows down the digestion process and gives you a sense of fullness. It can also help you lose weight.
Studies on animal showed that eating fermentable fiber – the kind of fruits and vegetables – boosted their levels of GLP-1.
7. Blocks some calories
Dietary fiber can block the absorption of some of the fat and protein you eat. If you’re overweight, that could be a good thing.
One study showed that a group of people fed a diet containing only 20 grams of fiber a day absorbed 8 percent more calories than a group given 48 grams of fiber a day. For a typical 2,500-calorie diet, that’s a different of about 200 calories a day.
Just changing your fiber intake – without altering the number of calories you eat – could mean losing a couple of pounds a month. But be careful to add fiber to your diet slowly. Too much too soon can cause uncomfortable gas and bloating.