As long as we can remember, our clients have always asked us if there is a secret to weight loss. They wonder if there is something they can eat when they’re hungry that won’t cause them to gain weight. And moms especially seem to have this question as they have less time to work on their body’s than they did before they had their kids. And although there’s no magic weight loss bullet, there is a dieter’s “secret” weapon. Grandma called our secret weapon roughage, and you may know it as Mother Nature’s pipe cleaner.
So what is the Dieter’s Secret Weapon? Fiber. Fiber is just about the best thing around if you are watching your weight.
Moms, are you meeting the fiber recommendations?
Most American’s moms don’t; they get 12 grams of the recommended 25 grams that those of us under 50 should get each day. Not meeting the fiber recommendations is bad for many reasons and when it comes to your weight, not getting enough fiber is no exception. Fiber makes calories disappear and this is quite a miracle worker for weight loss. And several studies have shown that people who doubled their intake of fiber from 12 grams of fiber to 24 grams actually cut their calorie absorption by 90 calories a day! That’s a 10-pound weight-loss in a year, without even stepping on a treadmill!
So, meet the recommendation, and voila–goodbye 90 calories each day!
And your boyfriend or husband? If he’s younger than 50 he should consume at least 38 grams of fiber per day, while men older than 50 should aim for at least 30 grams of fiber daily.
And don’t forget to give your kids a diet that includes plenty of fiber. It’s never too early to start with good habits! They’ll also learn by watching you eat your oatmeal and spinach and other great fibrous foods.
How does fiber save calories? Fiber is the cell wall of plants (the part you can’t digest) and it actually mops up molecules in your digestive tract, such as carbohydrates, fats and sugars—and their calories—and sweeps some of them out of your body. What’s more, since you can’t digest it, fiber adds satisfying bulk to food, yet without calories! And, fiber takes longer to work its way through your digestive tract so it staves off hunger. If you want to fill up and not out, eat foods with fiber. And the more, the merrier! This is one of the many reasons we add plenty of veggies (like broccoli, bell peppers, spinach and mushrooms, etc.) to our meals—we have large appetites and the fiber in veggies helps us to fill up on fewer calories.
Which foods have fiber? Whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, bran, quinoa, etc.), fruits, vegetables and beans all are great ways to get your fiber. At each meal, we are sure to get our fiber—whether we throw veggies in our omelet, our rice or our stir-fry or fruit in our oatmeal, yogurt or salad, no meal is complete for us without fiber!
So what does this mean for carb lovers? You don’t have to give up rice, bread or even pasta! However, as often as possible choose the whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta or whole grain bread and eat a little bit less of it. You’ll fill up with fewer calories by tossing veggies in with your carbs. (Think: Veggies stacked on your sandwich). This way you’ll get more fiber from the veggies and fewer calories by eating less of the higher-calorie rice, pasta and bread. And, great news! No need to nix pizza, just use whole-wheat crust and load up on the veggie toppings. And of course, go for the low-fat cheese to save calories and artery clogging fat. Here are common foods that may contribute to your fiber intake:
• ½ cup Kelloggs All-bran w/fiber 15 grams
• 1 slice whole wheat bread 2.6 grams
• 1/2 cup cooked quinoa 3 grams
• 1 packet oatmeal, flavored 2.6 grams
• 1 cup whole wheat spaghetti 6.3 grams
• 1 medium apple, with skin 3.7 grams
• 1 cup blackberries 8 grams
• 1 cup strawberries 3 grams
• 1 cup kidney beans 9.0 grams
• ½ cup cooked cauliflower 2 grams
• ½ cup cooked broccoli 2.6 grams
• 1 medium potato with skin 4.6 grams
Fiber’s Added Bonus
• Lowers risk of heart attack
• Lowers cholesterol by soaking up fats and forces some of them through the body before they can do damage
• Lowers risk of high blood pressure
• Lowers risk of stroke
• Powerful weapon against Type II diabetes (slows glucose absorption)
One word of caution: If you currently don’t get much fiber, be careful to add fibrous foods gradually. Adding them too quickly can cause stomach distress, yikes!
What are your favorite ways to get fiber in your day?
Written By: Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, LD, CDN, CPT