What’s your resolution for the New Year?
Lose weight? Stay healthy? Spend less?
You’d probably scratch your head if I told you there was one thing you could add to your diet to accomplish all three. But that’s exactly what I’m saying.
What’s the magic addition to keep your new year’s resolution? It’s fiber.
What is fiber?
Everybody’s familiar with the word fiber. But do you know what fiber is?
The AACC defines fiber as “the edible parts of plants or analogous carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion and absorption in the human small intestine with complete or partial fermentation in the large intestine.”
Confused? Basically, fiber has 3 main characteristics
- From plants- Only plants have fiber. You can’t obtain fiber from meat, dairy or eggs.
- Carbohydrate- Fiber is a type of carbohydrate.
- Indigestible- Fiber doesn’t provide calories and isn’t absorbed into the digestive system like fat, protein and other carbohydrates.
If you’re still having trouble, Harvard defines fiber easily and succinctly. “Fiber is a type of carbohydrate the body can’t digest.”
Additionally, there are two types of dietary fiber
- Soluble fiber
- Insoluble fiber
Soluble fiber is fiber that can be dissolved in water. Alternatively, insoluble fiber can’t be dissolved in water.
Why does the body need fiber?
The fiber is both essential and beneficial to our bodies.
The most essential function is to help the body remove waste. Fiber provides bulk to more easily expel waste from our body.
Fiber is also essential to keep our digestive systems healthy. Our digestive systems host beneficial bacteria called probiotics. The probiotics feed off fiber. In turn, well-fed bacteria keep our digestive system running smoothly and efficiently.
Nonessential functions of fiber include lowering blood cholesterol, regulating blood sugar and preventing constipation.
The USDA recommends that individuals eat at least 25 grams of fiber per day. The daily recommended range is from 25-38 grams per day.
How much fiber is in a(n) . . . ?
- Carrot – 2 grams
- Banana – 3 grams
- cup of Brown Rice – 4 grams
- once of Chia Seeds – 11 grams
- cup of Lentils – 14 grams
But the science suggests you can’t eat too much fiber. The more fiber you eat, the more benefits you gain. Just make sure you don’t increase your fiber too quickly. Try increasing your fiber by 5 grams each week to prevent excess gas.
What are the best sources of fiber?
Only plants contain fiber. You can get fiber from legumes (beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, etc.), whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies.
Animal products contain no fiber. That means there isn’t any fiber in cheese, milk, eggs or meat (red meat, poultry and seafood).
Out of all of the places you can get your fiber, legumes are the best. Per 200-calorie serving, whole legumes can contain 7 to 15 grams of fiber.
Whole grains are also a great place to get fiber. They don’t usually contain as much as legumes, but they still have lots.
Avoid getting your fiber from refined foods, like white bread and rice. They have fiber, but they mainly contain small amounts of soluble fiber. You want to eat foods that have ample amounts of both types of fiber.
How it can help your various new year’s resolutions
Lose weight, stay fit and healthy and spend less are 3 common New Year’s resolutions. Here’s how fiber can help you accomplish all 3.
Eating more whole plant foods that have fiber is correlated with decreased body weight. That means that the more fibrous plant foods you eat, the more weight you’ll lose.
Remember how legumes have lots of fiber? They’re also associated with more weight loss.
Beans fill you up without providing many calories. They keep you full without adding extra calories that you have to burn off later.
Additionally, the body takes longer to digest complex carbohydrates (i.e. starch and fiber) than it does simple carbohydrates (i.e. sugar). Not only does fiber provide satiety without providing excess calories, it also keeps you fuller for a longer period of time because they take more time to pass through our digestive tract.
Stay Fit and Healthy
Fiber is associated with foods that have low caloric density and high nutritional density. This means fibrous foods tend to not provide many calories while providing a lot of nutrition.
Stay fit and healthy by eating high fiber foods. High fiber foods will give your body the nutrition it needs to thrive. You’ll glow from how much energy you have.
And as fibrous foods aren’t usually calorically dense, they’ll prevent you from gaining unwanted weight. Extra weight can put you at risk for diabetes, heart disease and exert excess stress on your body.
Finally, eating lots of healthy, fibrous food will deter you from eating junk food. Instead of eating a bag of chips, you can eat an apple or hummus with veggies.
Spend Less, Save More
Yes, eating lots of fiber can also save you money!
But buying fiber supplements won’t save you money. That’ll waste money. In order for fiber to save you money, you need to get it in whole plant foods.
- whole grains
- nuts and seeds
Compare the average cost of an egg to a serving of lentils.
|Egg||77 calories||0 grams||$0.22|
|Lentils||115 calories||8 grams||$0.19|
The lentil costs less, has more calories and has infinitely more fiber than the egg. Do your own research and you’ll see that fish, poultry and dairy are less cost efficient (per calorie and by fiber) to whole grains and legumes.
Ready for fiber?
It’s time to give yourself the gift of fiber this New Year. More fiber in your diet results in:
- less fat on your belly
- more spring your step
- more years on your life
- more money in your pocket
And who doesn’t want that?
Need suggestions for recipes with lots of fiber? Here are my favorites:
Did you find this helpful? If so, share it with your friends so they can be successful with their New Year’s Resolutions, too.
What are your favorite high fiber foods?