Can Fiber Undo the Damage of a High Fat Meal?

Eating more fiber may help you lose weight, but not by canceling out the calories you've already eaten. Nutrition Diva explains how eating more fiber can (and can't) help you manage your weight and which foods to choose. 

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #510
Foods rich in fiber

How Fiber Helps You Lose Weight

Despite the fact that it contains no calories, fiber takes up a lot of room in your stomach, making you feel fuller on fewer calories. High fiber foods also generally take longer to eat, which may help you take in fewer calories per sitting. And finally, they take longer to digest, so you don’t get hungry again as quickly. All of this can make it easier to eat less (and maintain a lower weight) without feeling hungry all the time.

Second, as I mentioned before, fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in our gut, shaping the population in ways that seem to be linked to a lower body weight, via complex and still poorly understood interactions between our gut bacteria and our hormones and metabolism.

How to Use Fiber to Manage Your Weight

What foods are higher in fiber? You won’t find any fiber in animal foods. Eggs, dairy, meat, and fish are good sources of protein but they are fiber-free. Dietary fiber comes from plant foods, especially legumes and whole grains but also nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

See also: Nutrition Diva's Fiber Cheat Sheet

But the best way to leverage the benefits of fiber is not to add high-fiber foods or supplements to an unhealthy diet. The trick is to choose higher fiber foods as alternatives to less healthy optionsat least some of the time.

For example, you might opt for black bean or split pea soup instead of ramen or tomato soup.  Choose a whole grain pilaf instead of a dinner roll. Spread your toast with peanut butter or almond butter instead of butter and jelly. And, Bill, the time to eat that high-fiber cereal is not after a high-fat dinner but instead of that breakfast pastry.

For ways to increase your fiber without blowing your calorie budget, see my episode on fiber density. See also my episode on how to eat less without feeling hungry.

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Fiber rich foods image courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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