Fiber – we can’t digest it and it provides us with no calories or nutrients, yet we know that it’s good for us and most of us need more. What is it exactly, and what is it about fiber that makes it so healthy for us?
What is Fiber?
Fiber is simply the part of the plant foods we eat that we aren’t able to break down in our digestive systems.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber will form a gel when dissolved in water. This type of fiber will slow down the rate of your digestion, leaving you feeling fuller for longer, and off of fewer calories, too!
Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve, instead, passing through your digestive tract intact. It fills you up and “scrubs out” your insides by collecting toxins and fats, and taking them out when it passes.
You shouldn’t focus on getting specific amounts of any one type of fiber. Eating a healthy and varied diet will take care of that for you. The only thing you should be trying to do to get more fiber is eat healthier foods on a consistent basis.
Does Fiber Help You Lose Weight?
Fiber affects weight loss because of the effect it has on our sense of hunger. Your feelings of hunger are controlled by many things, including the amounts of carbs, fat, protein, water and fiber that are present in the things you eat. Eating healthy amounts of an appropriate mix of these foods will eliminate excess hunger and cravings.
Did you know that people eat basically the same amount of food each day. There aren’t usually any drastic changes in the amount people eat from day to day – aside from special occasions that may call for pigging out, that is.
When you replace some of the foods you eat with foods that are high in fiber, you’re doing one of the best things you can for weight loss.
After all, fiber adds no calories to your diet and most fiber rich foods have ver y little calories compared to other foods of the same or volume. It helps you feel full faster, and for longer periods of time. It also absorbs fat, leaving less of it for your body to digest.
And most fiber rich foods require you to chew more because of their texture, and this simple act of slowing the rate at which you eat is the perfect way to avoid overeating.
Fiber Helps Blood Sugar
Fiber is very good for regulating your blood sugar. You may think that’s something only diabetics would be concerned with, but everyone – especially those trying to lose – should be aware of the consequences of consuming sugar.
When you eat sugar or foods like refined carbohydrates that turn into blood sugar quickly, your pancreas is signaled to release insulin. When the body is flooded with insulin, your brain thinks you have more than enough energy (calories) to keep you going, so it shuts off the fat burning systems in your body.
The spike in insulin that occurs after eating sugar or refined carbs is followed by a big dip in insulin levels, leaving your body exhausted and craving more sugar and calories. It can quickly turn into a vicious cycle that will leave you hunting for candy bars when you should be working out.
So, now you know exactly why you should be getting more fiber, and you’re ready to start. Before you go doing anything drastic, though, you need to know how to use fiber safely.
Even though it’s extremely healthy for you, it’s never a wise move to overdo anything. Too much fiber can prevent your body from absorbing nutrients or utilizing medications. Upping your dosage too quickly can lead to uncomfortable gas and possibly constipation.
The best way to get your fiber is to eat more plant based foods. Sure it’s not as convenient as those juice flavored fiber supplements you mix with water, but it’s better because supplements don’t keep you feeling as full as food sources of fiber do.
A great thing about fiber rich foods is that foods high in fiber are usually high in vitamins, minerals and nutrients that will indirectly assist your body with fat burning.
Anytime you eat fiber you should be drinking lots of water to go along with it. This will keep your stools comfortably soft and help even more with weight loss, being that water is right up there with fiber when it comes to making you feel full and satisfied.
Fiber is an essential part of a healthy weight loss regimen, and most people don’t eat enough, especially with the prevalence of convenient foods. Get more fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains in your diet and you’ll notice you have less room in your stomach for the unhealthy stuff. Your will start dropping and you’ll feel a lot better, too.