Benefits of fibre for weight loss

You have mostly likely heard the word fibre many times already. But have you actually changed the foods you are eating? and are you meeting the recommended intake for Australians (~30g/day) ? This is a friendly reminder of the simple yet effective strategy of increasing fibre intake. I believe that fibre is an underutilised weapon in the weight loss battle, and here’s why:

  1. A high-fibre diet is protective against weight gain. High-fibre foods tend to have a lower energy density, which means they provide fewer kilojoules per gram of food. As a result, a person on a high-fibre diet can consume the same amount of food, but with fewer kilojoules (calories).
  2. Fibrous foods are often bulky and, therefore, filling. Soluble fibre forms a gel that slows down the emptying of the stomach and the transit time of food through the digestive system. This extends the time a person feels full. It also delays the absorption of sugars from the intestines. This helps to maintain lower blood sugar levels and prevent a rapid rise in blood insulin levels, which has been linked with obesity and an increased risk of diabetes.

Make Fibre your weight loss friend…

Simple suggestions for increasing your daily fibre intake include:

  • Eat a breakfast option that contains barley, wheat, fruit, vegetables or oats.
  • Switch to multigrain breads and brown rice.
  • Add an extra vegetable (or two) to every evening meal.
  • Snack on fruit, dried fruit, nuts or wholemeal crackers.

A daily intake of 30 g can be easily achieved if you eat more fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrain cereal products, instead of low-fibre bars, cakes and biscuits. Including nuts or seeds as a snack or use in meals and salads are other great options.

You do not need to eat many more kilojoules to increase your fibre intake. You can easily double your fibre intake without increasing your kilojoule intake by being more selective. See one of the Dietitians at health place for your own plan to increase fibre via foods that you like.

Beware – Gradual Progression Required

A sudden switch from a low-fibre diet to a high-fibre diet may create some abdominal pain and increased flatulence. Also, very high-fibre diets (more than 40 g daily) are linked with decreased absorption of some important minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium. This occurs when fibre binds these minerals and forms insoluble salts, which are then excreted.  This could increase the risk of developing deficiencies of these minerals in susceptible people. Adults should aim for a diet that contains 25 g to 30 g of fibre per day, and should introduce fibre into the diet gradually to avoid any negative outcomes.

It is better to add fibre to the diet from real food sources rather than from fibre supplements, as these can aggravate constipation, especially if you do not increase the amount of water you drink daily.

One more quick note; fresh juices are a super tasty and a very popular option at the moment. But beware of the way said juices are produced, as often their beneficial fibre content is extracted during the juicing process.

Written by Andrew Hall, Sports Dietitian, Apple to Zucchini (found inside Health Place and other leading Queensland health clinics).

For more information about nutrition and weight loss, contact Health Place on07 3852 2434 or email info@healthplace.com.au.