You’ve probably heard that losing weight requires just the right formula.
You know, a formula requiring you to track:
- saturated fat
- unsaturated fat
I know. There are just too many things to think about.
But a new study finds that it may NOT have to be all that much work. You may, in fact, be able to put aside all that counting and lose weight by adding just 1 thing into your eating plan. 1
Want to know what it is?
Let’s take a look at the study to find out.
Researchers funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute split 240 overweight folks into 2 groups.
Group #1 was told to follow the American Heart Association’s diet plan, monitoring carbs, protein, saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sugar, sodium and alcohol. They were encouraged to eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains and fiber; choose lean animal proteins and plant proteins; and eat fish at least twice weekly.
Group #2 was told to eat at least 30 grams of a certain nutrient a day. That’s it.
After a year, Group #2 lost almost as much weight as Group #1.
Yes, even though they focused on only 1 thing, they still lost almost as much as the group who had to keep track of multiple rules.
So what is this magical nutrient that allowed Group #2 to forget about all the other rules and still lose weight?
Yup. Good old fiber.
It’s incredibly important for your health, and helps you lose weight, for several reasons. Fiber is a type of nondigestible carbohydrate. Unlike most carbs, the body can’t break down fiber into sugar.
Instead, fiber passes through the body undigested. It adds bulk to your diet and makes you feel fuller faster, so it helps curb hunger, which enhances your weight-management efforts.
There are 2 types of fiber:
- Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Foods high in soluble fiber, such as oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, flaxseed and apples, can help lower glucose and cholesterol levels.
- Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water. Foods high in insoluble fiber, including whole grains and vegetables, can help move food through your digestive tract, promoting a healthy, er, constitution.
Both are crucial to get. And Americans don’t get nearly enough. The U.S. National Academy’s Institute of Medicine recommends 25 grams and 38 grams of fiber per day for women and men aged 18–50 years, respectively.
America’s average intake? Only about 16 grams per day.
So let’s change that here and now. A few hints to increase your fiber intake:
1. Start slowly. Adding too much fiber to your diet too quickly can cause gas, bloating and cramps.2
Consider adding about 5–6 grams of extra fiber each week until you are at the recommended intake. This will allow the body time to adjust to the higher level without you doubling over in pain.
2. Drink extra water. When you boost your fiber intake, drinking plenty of water (about 8 cups per day) will help you avoid constipation.
3. Choose fiber-rich foods.
- Instead of juice, go for the whole fruit or veggie, which is packed with fiber.
- Read food labels for fiber content.
- Add an extra serving of beans or veggies.
- Choose RealDose RealReds at snack time. RealReds not only packs a generous 6 grams of fiber per serving, it also provides the polyphenol phytonutrient equivalent found in 6 servings of whole fruits.
- To get you going, here are a few fiber-rich foods and their fiber content.
Rich Sources of Fiber
RealDose RealReds, 1 serving
Black beans, ½ cup
Pinto beans, ½ cup
Navy beans, ½ cup
White beans, ½ cup
Kidney beans, ½ cup
Fruits & Veggies
Artichoke, cooked, 1 medium
Blackberries, 1 cup
Green peas, ½ cup
Apple (with skin), 1 medium
Orange, 1 medium
Strawberries, sliced, 1 cup
Parsnip, ½ cup
Carrots, raw, ½ cup
Spinach, cooked, ½ cup
Apple (without skin), 1 medium
Corn, ½ cup
Cabbage, raw, ½ cup
Hmmm. Maybe the formula for losing weight ISN’T so complicated after all!
Steven Sisskind, M.D.
1. Ma Y, Olendzki BC, Wang J, et al. Single-component versus multicomponent dietary goals for the metabolic syndrome: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(4):248-57. PMID: 25686165.
2. King DE, Mainous AG 3rd, Lambourne CA. Trends in dietary fiber intake in the United States, 1999-2008. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 May;112(5):642-648. PMID: 22709768.