The Simple Secret to Losing Weight – Add Fiber Sources to Your Diet

There is so much confusing information regarding weight loss. Over the past several years, we’ve seen a ton of complicated new diets take hold – many of which have unproven benefits. There is the Keto diet, the Paleo diet, Atkins diet, Intermittant Fasting, and of course, the classic calorie counting diet.

There is an enormous amount of evidence that maintaining a healthy weight will benefit you in a variety of ways. It can help prevent metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, brain diseases such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s, and certain types of Cancer. But the abundance of complicated weight loss strategies can leave many people confused, or yo-yoing from one diet to the next in a futile attempt to stick to something that works in a variety of circumstances (at home, while travelling, while out to dinner, etc.).

If you don’t have the time or energy for complicated rules, writing down and counting everything you eat, or skipping numerous meals, there is one simple metric you can track in order to maintain or lose weight – the amount of fiber you eat on a daily basis. It’s even easy to eat high fiber meals at fast food restaurants, such as ordering the Spicy Southwest Salad or Cool Wrap from the Chick-fil-A menu (containing 8 and 13 grams of fiber respectively).

A study from the University of Massachusetts medical school recruited 240 people in a double-blind study to test a simple theory. Half were asked to follow the American Heart Association diet for preventing heart disease, which has a focus on eating fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, and to cut back on salt, sugar, and alcohol.  The other half were asked to only focus on one thing – eating at least 30 grams of fiber a day. All the volunteers had high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, and were overweight.

Both groups were successful in losing weight and improving their blood markers, and were able to maintain their weight loss for one year. As a matter of fact, the results of just focusing on fiber were very similar to diets that are much stricter with many more rules and guidelines, such as the Mediterranean diet or the AHA diet.  Generally, if you can get similar results with a much less restrictive and simpler diet, it makes sense to choose it – it will end up leading to much higher compliance and a much lower failure rate.

Currently the average dietary fiber intake in the United States is 15 grams per day, or about half of what this study shows as an optimal amount. I believe the reason for this is that many people do not understand the benefits of fiber – how it can slow absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, thereby preventing a strong insulin response from your body. Insulin is the body’s way of telling itself to start storing fat because there is too much energy (sugar) in your bloodstream. In addition to preventing these spikes of glucose in the blood, fiber also can make you feel fuller after eating – encouraging you to eat less food and to eat less frequently because you will feel full for longer.

If you have had trouble sticking to a diet and are overweight or obese, the simple strategy backed by research is to focus on a single goal – eating more fiber. It’s easy to find high fiber meals, even if you don’t have time to cook and are forced to eat out at fast food restaurants, and you won’t have to order a salad or something you don’t love.  Try it – it just might be the diet you’ve been searching for.

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