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How Much Fiber Should I Eat to Lose Weight?

By Erin Beck

Get more fiber in your diet if you're trying to lose weight. Fiber is an type of carbohydrate that the body can't digest. It is filling and is also typically found in healthy foods. Plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, contain fiber.

Identification

The two types of fiber are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber slows digestion and is found in some fruits and vegetables, oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and peas. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and helps foods pass more quickly through the intestines. It's found in wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains. Fiber reduces risk of diabetes, heart disease, diverticulitis and constipation, according to the August 2013 issue of the Portugese medical journal, "Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia & Metabologia."

Research

A diet high in fiber with restricted calories may not help you to lose weight more than restricting calories alone, according to a 2005 study published by Warren G. Thompson and colleagues in "Obesity Research." However, if you add fiber to an unrestricted diet, you may end up feeling more full and eating less, found a 2001 review published by Nancy C. Howarth and colleagues in "Nutrition Review."

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Amount

Most Americans eat only 15 grams of dietary fiber a day, according to MedlinePlus.com, which is almost half of what they should be eating. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends that women aim for over 25 grams of fiber a day, while most men should shoot for 38 grams. In the 2001 "Howarth Review," an additional 14 grams per day of fiber for more than 2 days is associated with a 10 percent decrease in calories and body weight loss of 1.9 kilograms over 3.8 months.

Mechanism

Fiber helps you lose weight because it is satiating. Fiber is filling because it takes longer to digest and absorbs water as it moves through the digestive tract. Foods high in fiber, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, are also typically low in calories.

Tips

A study in the July 2008 issue of "Diabetes Care" recommends that you consume whole fruits instead of juice, because they contain more fiber and can help control your blood sugar levels. Try adding fruits and vegetables to your normal recipes. Choose whole grains instead of refined grains. For instance, choose 100 percent whole wheat bread over white. Pick grain products that list whole grains, like whole wheat or whole oats, as the first ingredient. Add beans -- rich in fiber -- to salads, soups and casseroles or eat them more often as a side dish.Try snacking on raw vegetables. Increase fiber intake gradually to prevent bloating, gas and constipation.

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