If you feel your weight loss program needs a boost, you may want to consider choosing higher fiber foods as a way to feel full faster and stay full longer – which will help you control your total calorie intake in the process.
Foods high in fiber are also good for your overall health, in addition to helping you better manage your weight.
It's time to start learning the secrets of eating a higher fiber diet, one that tastes good and is easy to follow. Here are some tips to guide you:
1. Know the benefits. Fiber is best known for preventing or treating constipation. But it's also true that people who eat a higher fiber diet have a lower risk of developing heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. Foods that are higher in fiber include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. Whole foods (and less processed foods) are what you want to reach for when choosing a higher fiber diet.
2. Count and compare. If you're younger than 50, the goal is to consume 25 grams of fiber per day (women) or 38 grams of fiber per day (men). If older than 50, the goal decreases to 21 grams for women or 30 grams for men. Another good rule of thumb to follow when reading food labels is that a good fiber source has 2.5-5 grams of fiber per serving while a high fiber source has greater than 5 grams of fiber per serving. Scan the labels of the cereal, oatmeal, bread, pasta and rice products you typically buy to see their fiber content. Then, when at the grocery store, compare the fiber content of different products and start choosing ones with the most fiber.
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3. Plan meals and snacks. To increase your fiber intake, start eating some fresh fruit at each meal, eating a high fiber cereal or oatmeal at breakfast, switching to whole grain breads and pastas instead of the white stuff, eating a salad with lots of veggies at dinner time, adding veggies to your lunch time sandwiches, adding beans to your salads, choosing more bean-based dishes and adding some nuts to your yogurts or salads. And remember to increase your fiber intake gradually and drink more water in order to decrease your chances of experiencing gas and bloating.
4. Take a new look at supplements. Fiber supplements have come a long way from the gritty ones that used to form lumps in beverages to the new ones that completely dissolve in liquids or soft foods. Though it is always best to get your fiber from eating whole foods, fiber supplements are available such as Benefiber or Unifiber to name some of the new ones. Benefiber, for example, comes in the form of a powder that can be mixed in water or soft foods and offers 3 grams of fiber per serving (with 3 servings a day recommended), without the side effects of gas or bloating. It also aids digestion and can treat constipation.
Hopefully these four tips will help you use fiber to your advantage to boost your health and your weight loss.