The average person thinks of fiber as something that keeps us “regular.” Although this is very true (and very important), fiber is something that we all need to include in our diet, no matter what our weight loss goals may be.
In short, fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods that pushes food through the digestive system. There is soluble fiber, which is able to dissolve in water while traveling through your body. Insoluble fiber is not, and does not change too much while traveling through the body.
So why is fiber so damn important? Glad you asked. High Fiber foods:
- Often have a positive effect on cholesterol, triglycerides, and other things in the blood that may lead to heart disease.
- Help regulate blood sugar levels, which help to avoid diabetes.
- Can slow hunger by making one feel fuller much faster, with less calories.
- Changes the way your body handles carbs and other foods by speeding up digestion. – Look for the next article where we’ll talk about how to keep carbs at bay with a balanced diet!
So How do we get this fiber in our diet? It is easier than you may think. If at all possible, I always try to stick with natural foods for whatever I’m trying to do, whether it be build muscle, get essential nutrients, etc. The same applies to fiber; there are many ways to get fiber, and some are much purer and healtier than others.
- Whole grains (bran is very high in fiber): breads and cereals, whole-grain pastas, and brown rice. Tip: If you can, look for products with the first ingridient listed as “Stone Ground Whole Wheat.”
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes (Beans, lentils, etc)
- Fruits and Vegetables
Now, when foods are processed in factories by huge bad companies, they generally strip the food of the majority of its fiber content. For example, most instant oatmeals are inferior to slow-cooking oatmeal fiber wise, due to how it is made in the factory. Fruit juices lack the skin of the fruit, and therefore provide little to no fiber. In short, the further away it is from the real thing, the less fiber it probably has.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to force anyone into being a vegetarian. Recently, many companies have made some high fiber foods which can be good (and delicious) choices during the day. The following have low amounts of sugar and calories, while providing a good amount of fiber and protein.
- Kashi GO LEAN cereal – 10 g Fiber, 13 g Protein, and only 1 g Fat! And it tastes great! Truly unbelievable.
- FIBER ONE bars – 9 g Fiber, 3 g Protein, and 4.5 g Fat. Great tasting, and good for an on-the-go snack.
- America’s Choice Wheat Puffs – 2 g Fiber, 3 g Protein, 0 g Fat, 0 Sugars. The simplest cereal. Period.
- Oatmeal – Slow cooked is best, but instant still provides 3-5 g Fiber, 5 g Protein, and no sugars.
- FiberSure Supplement (Non-Flavored) – Easy to use / mix with any food you eat. Low calorie supplement.
- Metamucil or a similar fiber supplements also provide fiber and lower cholesterol, but can taste plain awful.
There’s the low down on fiber. In the next article, we’ll take a look at how fiber (and fat, and protein, and carbs) interacts with all of the other foods you include in your diet, and how a balanced diet can lead to very simple and easy eating plans for healthy weight loss or maintenance.
Also, I’ll give a short report on my interpretation of the popular South Beach Diet.
Stay tuned! I test everything in my articles for weeks before writing about them – I’ll keep you updated on my progress each article, and hope that you join me in the search for an enjoyable, balanced, healthy diet.