Losing weight isn’t always a linear process. With the growing amount on information on the topic, it can sometimes be confusing knowing what advice to follow among all the diet books, supplement companies and fitness instructors. However, one simple piece of advice is often the most overlooked when it comes to weight loss: eating more fibre. Recent studies have highlighted the amazing benefits of fibre, indicating that people who added more fibre to their diets, without changing anything else in their lifestyle, lost almost as much weight as people who followed the traditional low-calorie dieting approach. There’s an ever-growing body of evidence which is suggesting that people who eat more fibre tend to live healthier and slimmer lifestyles. So just why is fibre important for weight loss?
What is fibre?
Fibre is a form of carbohydrate found exclusively in plant foods such as fruits, veggies and whole grains. Where most carbohydrate sources are easily digested, fibres aren’t and tend to pass through your body quickly without causing the standard rise in blood sugar that s typical with most carb consumption. Fibre is classed as a complex carbohydrate but rather than providing the body with energy in the form of glucose, it cannot be digested.
No nutrients or calories are derived from fibre, it merely passed through our digestive systems. Despite its apparently pointless function, it does actually provide important functions in the body and is essential in the the functioning and maintenance of a healthy and well-tuned digestive system. Fibre assists in the removal of harmful waste in the body, adding to the longevity of our digestive track.
How does it help with weight loss?
So how much fibre do you need to be eating to lose those few extra pounds or maintain a healthy weight? Whilst this question would elicit varying responses from different nutritionists and health experts, we’d recommend to aim for for 18 to 30 grams per day. Subject to your individual nutritional requirements, age and goals this may need to be slightly higher or lower but the 18 t0 30 mark is a nice benchmark to aim for. With the average Brit consuming only around half of that, it’s no surprise that as a nation, we’re becoming heavier and heavier and finding it harder and harder to lose the weight.
Sources of fibre
Below is a list of the most accessible and convenient sources of fibre you can use to bump up your intake and start hitting your daily amounts.
- Beans. Beans, beans, they’re good for you heart, the more you eat the more you fart. We all heard it as a kid and whilst it still holds true for most types of beans, they’re also great sources of dietary fibre fibre especially baked beans and kindey beans. Just half a tin of baked beans is 7g of fibre. Add them into existing dishes as bulk or eat them as stand-alone snacks.
- Wholegrain and wholemeal foods. Bin the white breads and pastas and be on the lookout for the wholemeal or wholegrain alternatives. Whitened foods tend to go through a bleaching process which strips the foods of many of its essential nutrients and fibre.
- Pulses. Chickpeas, lentils and other pulse are not only packed with plant protein and low in fat, they’re also a great choice for fibre. Like beans, they can be used in conjunction with other dishes or as a stand-alone food.
- Nuts. Almonds, pecans and walnuts are particularly fibrous.
- Potatoes. The skin on these is crucial, strip away the skin and you strip away much of the fibre content. Have them baked, boiled or mashed. Sweet potatoes are you best bet if you want to go one step further.
- Fruit. Fresh or dried fruit can be a great way to find fibre if your figures are a bit low and are packed with other essential vitamins and minerals. Oh and fruit juice doesn’t count, we’re afraid. The flesh is where the fibre. Strip away the flesh and you’re left with nothing more than sugar water with some added vitamins.
- Wholegrain cereals. Bran flakes, Shredded Wheat and Weetabix are all great options.
- Porridge oats. They may not be your preferred breakfast of choice but porridge oats are a fantastic source of slow-releasing, complex carbohydrate which is also a great source of fibre. Start your day right and have lasting energy by mixing a scoop of your favourite protein powder into some oats.
- Veggies. Last but certainly not least….vegetables Shoot for 3-4 portions a day for maximum benefit. Try and get a variety of different colours to really enhance them. Low in calories, high in fibre, these are perfect complements to main meals or as snacks.