By Bridget Smith -blackdoctor.org
When I was a little girl I would say, “Grandma, my tummy hurts!” and she would reply, “You need to eat more fiber little girl.” She would load me up on oatmeal, fruit and a lot of vegetables. The next morning, I was back to my old busy body self. Still to this day I’m a huge fan of fiber!
If you’re looking to shed some pounds, research has shown that by adding fiber-rich foods to your diet you can speed up weight loss and more importantly, keep the pounds from coming back.
Dietary fiber is one of the three main types of carbohydrates. You can find fiber in all edible plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans. It consists of insoluble and soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water, and creates softer and bulkier stools to keep you regular. While soluble fiber dissolves in water and absorbs water in the intestines, it also stabilizes your sugar levels and keeps you feeling full.
How Much Should You Eat?
Fiber is one of the easiest nutrients to incorporate into your diet. However, most Americans still don’t get the recommended daily 25 to 30 grams. Recent stats show we are only consuming on an average 15 grams per day. As a Health and Fitness Expert, I suggest aiming for at least 8 grams at breakfast, 6 grams at lunch and dinner and 3 grams in snacks per serving.
TIP: Read your food labels. If it says “high fiber,” it generally means 3 – 5 grams per serving.
Benefits of Fiber
Generally, when people hear the word fiber they automatically associate it with feeling full after meals. However, both types of fiber play an important role in the prevention of chronic diseases and weight loss.
An adequate intake of fiber can lower your risk of developing heart disease by lowering both blood cholesterol and blood pressure. It also helps prevent type 2 diabetes and improves blood sugar levels by slowing the body’s absorption of sugar.
In a nutshell, the more fiber you eat, the more weight you will lose. Combing this with exercise also aids in muscle recovery. Words of caution: You may not want to load up before you workout. Fiber-rich foods will get your bowels moving. Give your body enough time to digest fiber-rich foods or if you are in a time crunch, avoid them before hitting the gym. Almonds, yogurt or a banana are a great pre-workout snack options that will hold you over.
TIP: Top 5 fiber rich foods: Fruits – raspberries, pears, apples, oranges and bananas; Vegetables – avocado, broccoli, spinach, sweet potato and carrots; Grains – wheat, pearl barley, quinoa, oats and brown rice