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Did you know? There is growing evidence that fiber is one of a dieter’s best friends. Of course, no one food or one action is a cure-all for excess weight. When it comes to weight control, “it takes a village” of changes. Studies consistently show that comprehensive/intensive programs, of which mine is one, work best. However, if you have only a few pounds to lose, a study published last year offers some hope. Participants were asked to attend group counseling sessions, too, but those who were instructed to make only the single dietary change to a high-fiber diet lost an amount of weight similar to those following the more complex American Heart Association (AHA) diet. The high fiber group lost an average of 4.6 pounds versus 6.0 pounds in the AHA diet. That amount of weight loss can improve health or reduce health risks for some persons.
Additional support for fiber’s benefits comes from other sources, too: studies have shown that greater consumption of fruit and non-starchy vegetables reduce weight gain over time. As you know, whole fruit and vegetables are relatively high-fiber foods. In addition, MyFitnessPal just analyzed their users’ data. It’s not a peer-reviewed study and they didn’t provide important data to indicate whether or not the results are statistically significant, but they reported that their successful users (folks who came within 5% of their weight loss goals) ate 30% more fiber than unsuccessful users.
Because fiber (when a part of whole foods, not added to a candy bar or whatever) is usually a component of a nutritious food, if we favor high-fiber foods (such as fruits, vegetables and reasonable quantities of whole grains), we are also improving the overall nutrition of our diets. Just emphasizing high-fiber foods (if we also reduce low-fiber ones) is a relatively simple way to lose a few pounds, if you’re willing to accept gradual weight loss.
If you add more fiber to your diet, remember that the current advised daily amount is 14 grams per 1000 calories, which usually means 25-35 grams/day. Most adults in the U.S. consume far less than that. More information, including fiber-rich foods and increasing fiber gradually to reduce intestinal issues, can be found at nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002470.htm.