THE FOOD THAT’S PROVEN TO HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT
There’s a lot of negative talk about carbohydrates in our society. While I agree wholeheartedly that sugar is addictive and unhealthy, some other carbs are filled with nutrients and can be incredibly good for you.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Though most carbohydrates are eventually broken down into a simple sugar molecule, fiber can’t be broken down by the body and instead passes through the body undigested.
Fiber helps regulate blood sugar and hunger, and also keeps us satiated from our meal. It comes in two forms – Soluble Fiber and Insoluble Fiber. Both are good for you.
Soluble Fiber dissolves in water and has been shown to reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Insoluble Fiber does not dissolve in water. It can help you stay full and satisfied long after a meal is completed, and also improves digestion, prevents constipation, and reduces diabetes risk.
While there is significant evidence and even a few studies that show how healthy fiber is for you, now there is statistical evidence clearly demonstrating that people who focus on eating more fiber throughout the day are more successful at losing weight than other types of dieters, including Paleo, low carb diets, low fat diets, and calorie counting.
A STUDY OF THE DIETARY BEHAVIOR OF 4.2 MILLION PEOPLE
MyFitnessPal is an Android and iPhone app that easily allows people to track what they eat throughout the day. It also allows their users to enter dietary goals, like weight loss.
They did a statistical study of 4.2 million MyFitnessPal users in the USA who were recently active on the app and had originally signed up with a goal of losing weight. They compared this group against the 427,000 successful users in the sample and figured out what the differences were. Directly from their report:
“…the nutritional breakdown of what successful users have been eating might surprise you. We were wondering – would we see fewer carbs? Less sugar? Lower fat intake? We saw none of that.
For the most part, all of the users we looked at had a similar breakdown in terms of calories. They have very similar calorie goals, and they’re logging comparable percentages of fat, carbohydrates, sugar and protein.
Where they differed? Fiber.
Successful users ate a whopping 29% more fiber on average.
However, they still have not been eating the daily recommended amount of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men…
Conclusion one: Users that have been successful in losing weight on MyFitnessPal ate 30% more fiber. And yet, there’s vast room for improvement.”
Their successful users ate less meat, fewer eggs, but ate more yogurt, almonds, healthy oils, and nuts in addition to consuming more fiber than their counterparts.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF FIBER
A diet high in fiber has been proven to help with a number of health risks. It’s also easy to find and can even be found at fast food restaurants such as on the McDonald’s menu or when ordering food at Hooter’s.
Breast Cancer – A large study conducted earlier this year led by researchers at Harvard University showed that high fiber intake, especially during adolescence and early adulthood, significantly reduced the risk of breast cancer in women. Another, earlier study based on 451 Australian women, also showed this result.
Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes – Numerous studies have shown that eating a diet high in fiber reduces the risk of Metabolic Syndrome, Insulin Resistance, Cardiovascular Disease, and Type 2 Diabetes. Take a look at the studies here, here, here, here, here, and here.
This is because fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, thereby reducing the insulin response. This prevents a fast shot of insulin entering the blood, which will then help prevent fat gain, Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, and Diabetes.
Diverticular Disease – This is one of the most common age related colon disorders in Western society – it’s an inflammation of the intestine. Eating insoluble fiber was associated with a 40% lower risk of developing this disease.
Constipation – As anyone who has eaten a lot of fruit or beans knows, a diet high in fiber will ensure you have regular bowel movements. A meta-study of 1322 articles and other studies was performed in 2012 and demonstrated this.
FOODS WITH THE HIGHEST FIBER CONTENT
Fiber is generally found in foods that are unprocessed – the closer to its natural form, the more fiber a food is likely to have. For example, a whole apple has approximately 4.4 grams of fiber (and because most apples are frozen for up to a year before being sold, virtually the only nutritious part is the fiber in the skin). However, a glass of fresh apple juice has almost no fiber.
This is true for almost all foods, and the primary reason why it’s healthier to eat whole wheat bread and brown rice instead of their white alternatives.
Whole grains such as wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran, oat bran, bulgar, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, and brown rice are all high in fiber. As a matter of fact, the various types of bran can supply a full day’s nutrition requirements with less than half a cup.
Leafy greens such as Romaine lettuce, spinach, and celery all contain significant amounts of fiber. Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, squash, and mushrooms are all winners as well. Artichokes, green peas, lima beans, brussel sprouts, kale, and sweet potatoes (with the skin on) all have more than 3 grams per 100 grams as well. Legumes such as soy beans (17.7g), navy beans (10.5g), white beans (10.4g), black beans (8.7g) and various other types all have a lot of fiber as well.
The fruits with the highest fiber content per 100 grams are passion fruit (10.4g), avocado (6.7g), raspberries (6.5g), kumquats, guavas, blackberries, currants, pomegranates, persimmons, and pears. However, almost all fruits contain some amount of fiber in the skin.
If you need to focus on one simple way to lose weight, without trying out complicated diets or those that require careful tracking of everything you eat, then focus on fiber. Eating foods with high fiber content is linked to weight loss and a long list of additional benefits.
High fiber foods are foods found naturally in as close to their natural form as possible. This means the whole fruit or vegetable is much better than a part of it (skinless or in juice form) and most animal products (red meat, chicken, and most cheeses) don’t contain significant amounts of fiber.