Move it Along: Fiber For Weight Loss

Dr. Christopher McGowan
January 27, 2022

When you are trying to lose weight, it can feel like you have to pay attention to everything you eat. For all the attention paid to dietary fat, cholesterol, and carbs, many people forget to keep an eye on their fiber intake. 

If you are eating the standard American diet, chances are you are not getting enough grams of fiber in your diet. Adding a little fiber may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to losing weight, but research has shown that increased levels of dietary fiber can provide a host of health benefits. 

How Fiber Helps Your Body

Dietary fiber is a term that covers several types of carbohydrates that cannot be directly digested by your gut. Broken into two categories based on whether they dissolve in water, fiber is known as either soluble or insoluble. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool, which can affect how poop moves through your digestive tract and help prevent issues like constipation. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, has many different effects on your digestion and metabolism. 

The primary way soluble fiber affects your health is by helping feed the bacteria in your digestive system. Your gut contains trillions of bacteria, and they need to eat healthy just like you do. Gut bacteria can break down soluble fiber that in turn produces other nutrients such as short-chain fatty acids, which are important for proper gut health.

When your gut bacteria are functioning properly, the results for your overall health can be dramatic. High-fiber diets have been linked to lower blood sugar levels, improved cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and decreased risk of heart disease. Fiber intake has also been linked to reductions in chronic inflammation, which has a profound effect on your chances of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even certain types of cancers. 

What are Common High-Fiber Foods

Part of the reason dietitians are eager to recommend high-fiber foods is that these natural grains and veggies often provide other health benefits beyond the raw amount of fiber they provide. A few of the most common and readily available foods that are high in fiber include:

  • black beans
  • lentils
  • chickpeas
  • oats
  • legumes
  • asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • flaxseeds
  • whole grains
  • quinoa
  • sweet potatoes

Does Fiber Help You Lose Belly Fat?

The body stores different kinds of fat in different places, and fat deposits can have different effects on your overall health. Abdominal fat has come under particular scrutiny in recent years for the effect it can have on your overall health. The visceral fat stored around your internal organs, known as belly fat, is seen as a marker for increased risk of many different chronic diseases. 

Some studies have shown that a high fiber diet reduces belly fat, though more research is needed to determine whether this loss is due to the fiber itself or the associated effects of eating healthy plant foods that contain the fiber. 

Another way that fiber can help you lose weight is by reducing cravings by helping you feel more full. Soluble fiber can be used to slow the passage of food through your digestive tract, which can help you eat less. Studies have shown that soluble fiber intake alone is not enough to lose weight, but it can be an important piece of the puzzle. 

The bottom line on fiber for weight loss is that the healthy foods you eat to get enough fiber to satisfy dietary guidelines are usually plant foods your nutritionist is likely to recommend you eat anyway. This can help you lose weight by eating healthier, even if the fiber in particular is not going to melt off the pounds all by itself. 

Does Fiber Make You Fart?

One of the less dignified, and possibly downright embarrassing, side effects of eating a high-fiber diet is the effect it can have on getting things moving in your digestive tract. In addition to adding bulk to your stool and improving gut motility, fiber can increase gas production. Since soluble fiber is a prebiotic that provides food for gut bacteria, increasing your fiber intake can help gut bacteria flourish and thrive, which can lead to more gas production as bacteria break down fiber. This can sometimes lead to other embarrassing or uncomfortable side effects such as bloating.

Eating Fiber for Weight Loss

Like so many other elements of weight management, trying to lose weight just by eating fiber is not likely to be very effective. Pairing moderate exercise with a healthy diet that allows you to get the nutrients you need while maintaining a caloric deficit is going to be the best route to losing weight. The more you treat any food as a silver bullet, the less likely it is you will effectively lose weight. 

One type of fiber called glucomannan is thought to be effective as a fiber supplement for weight loss. This incredibly viscous soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in your gut as you digest it, slowing the progress of digestion and helping you feel more full. This increased feeling of fullness can help you eat less, but there is mixed evidence as to how effective this is at helping you lose weight unless you are pairing a high-fiber diet with other weight loss strategies. 

Everyone who is trying to lose a significant amount of weight needs to be paying attention to their diet, but people who are considering gastric bypass surgery should know that they will have to pay particular attention to everything they eat, including dietary fiber. The exacting requirements of a post bariatric surgery diet are one of the reasons more and more people are looking for alternative forms of medically assisted weight loss. 

At True You Weight Loss, we specialize in helping people who have come to the point of considering medical interventions to find the freedom from excess body weight they have been looking for. It can be a challenge to face the question of whether you are a good candidate for weight loss surgery. Merely selecting a procedure that could work well for you is difficult enough. This is why we work with a wide variety of individuals and offer a range of services to help find the best treatment to help all our patients achieve the best results possible. 

Not everyone needs to take a significant step of a procedure like an endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) to lose weight. Sometimes a gastric balloon is a more appropriate step. If you have reached the point where diet and exercise are no longer enough to help you achieve the weight loss goals you have set, request a consultation with True You Weight Loss today.

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan

Dr. Christopher McGowan, MD, a leader in endobariatrics, specializes in non-surgical obesity treatments and is triple-board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine. Renowned for pioneering endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with over 2,000 procedures, his global influence and research contributions define him as a top expert.

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