If you’ve been wanting to lose weight, but haven’t had any luck sticking with a diet plan or exercise routine, more fiber might be the answer. Whether it comes from whole grains like brown rice and oats, fruits and vegetables like greens and apples, or legumes like beans and lentils — fiber is an important factor that’s often overlooked. Fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be digested by your gut. That said, fiber can significantly affect health and metabolism — as well as your weight. In this article, we’ll explain why high fiber foods are good for weight loss. We’ll also provide a list of the foods that are high in fiber, for you to consider incorporating into your diet.
Why Are High Fiber Foods Good For Weight Loss?
There are three main reasons why fiber-rich foods can improve your health and help you lose weight; by feeding gut bacteria, by fighting inflammation, and by keeping you full for longer. We’ll take a closer look at each of these reasons below.
Fiber Feeds Your Friendly Gut Bacteria
The human digestive system is home to trillions of microorganisms — also known as gut bacteria (12).
There are both good and bad bacteria, and everyone has both types in their body. A poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to the imbalance of these bacteria — which is called dysbiosis — and cause various health problems such as IBS, skin conditions, or bowel issues (11).
Eating a fiber-rich diet helps ensure that your food isn’t just passing through your body undigested, but can actually be used by helpful bacteria in your gut (18). Soluble fiber, found in certain fruits and vegetables high in beta-glucans like oats, carrots, potatoes with skin on them, apples, pears etc., holds onto moisture as it passes through your digestive system, feeding the good bacteria (1).
Good Gut Bacteria Help Fight Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response to tissue damage or irritation. However, inflammation that goes on for too long might lead to various diseases or worsen existing health conditions (19).
The dietary fiber that feeds gut bacteria helps keep things moving in your digestive system and reduces inflammation that might have been caused by indigestible food particles lingering around in your gut (7). Other fiber-rich foods help reduce inflammation throughout the body as well.
Soluble Fiber Keeps You Fuller For Longer
Fiber keeps you full for longer periods of time because it takes more time to break down than other carbohydrates like refined sugars (9). Soluble fiber, in particular, has the property of turning into a gel-like consistency in your digestive system. This slows down digestion and leads to you feeling full much longer than other carbs would (17).
Lower Cholesterol Absorption
Fiber helps to reduce cholesterol absorption. It binds with bile acids, produced by the liver to digest fat (6). That bile contains cholesterol that has been removed from your bloodstream and will be excreted through the GI tract. This can help lower your blood cholesterol levels if they are higher than desired.
List Of High Fiber Foods For Weight Loss
The following are some fiber-rich foods that you might want to consider adding to your diet if you’re looking to improve your health or lose weight:
Beans are very high in fiber and low in fat, making them an ideal food for weight loss. These are full of both soluble and insoluble fibers that can help you manage your cholesterol levels. Additionally, beans also contain protein, which helps build lean muscle mass (10).
Broccoli is a powerhouse vegetable loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s one of the best foods, offering many health benefits including weight loss.
Broccoli is low in calories, but it has high water content, along with antioxidant phytochemicals and vitamin C (2). While there are no magic foods for weight loss, eating broccoli may be an important part of any healthy diet plan or program to lose weight or reduce belly fat.
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Berries are some of the best foods you can eat for weight loss. These tasty fruits are nutrient-dense, low in calories, and high in fiber. They’re also rich in antioxidants that have been linked to reduced risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (5).
Berries are extremely versatile too, so eating them on a regular basis is easy. They can be added to cereal or yogurt, made into jams or baked goods, blended into smoothies with other ingredients, or eaten on their own as snacks. Plus they taste great!
Whether you prefer blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries, adding more berries to your diet plan will help you feel more satisfied while helping you lose weight.
Potatoes are an often overlooked fiber-rich food that can aid in weight loss. For instance, the fiber found in potatoes can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce your overall food intake (8). Sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, and even Irish potatoes are all good choices to include in your diet. Make sure to eat the skin!
Apples are a great source of fiber – one medium apple contains about 4.8 grams – which can aid in weight loss (3). Fiber also helps you feel full longer and can help reduce the number of calories you take in during each meal. For maximum benefits, eat these with the skin on.
These fruits also contain polyphenols – plant-based nutrients that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. Apples can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by helping to keep your heart healthy, too (4).
Whole grain products are a great way to get in some extra fiber while losing weight. Fiber makes you feel full and prevents constipation for a healthy gut. One of the best ways to make whole grains work towards your weight loss goals is to replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains.
Whole grains are often considered more nutritious than their refined counterparts, which removes the fiber-rich bran and germ (20). Whole grains like quinoa, oats, barley, brown rice, and buckwheat provide a much higher content of proteins, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
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Nuts are an excellent source of protein and other important nutrients. They have been called perfect snacks for being both delicious and nutritious.
They are high in fiber, protein, healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals (14). High-protein foods help you lose weight by keeping you full for longer periods of time after eating (15). Nuts are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Avocados are a great food to lose weight. They’re delicious, they contain many nutrients and antioxidants that help with weight loss, and can be easy to slip into any meal.
Creamy avocados are typically high in monounsaturated fat (the “good” fat) – similar to olive oil or nuts – which can help lower your LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol). This means that including avocados in your daily diet can help to prevent cardiovascular disease and high blood cholesterol (13). Avocados are also a great source of potassium, a nutrient that many Americans often don’t get enough of (13).
Glucomannan is an example of a natural fiber supplement derived from the roots of the elephant yam (also known as konjac). It has both soluble and insoluble fibers (16).
A high-quality glucomannan or other fiber supplement in combination with diet and exercise might help you lose weight by:
- Keeping you feeling fuller for longer
- Helping your body better absorb nutrients
- Regulating blood sugar levels
- Reducing cholesterol absorption in your gut
- Reducing calorie intake
The Bottom Line
Fiber-rich foods are good for weight loss because they can improve gut health, regulate blood sugar levels, and keep you feeling fuller for longer. They also contain certain properties that might help to fight inflammation or lower cholesterol absorption in your body.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A critical review on the impacts of β-glucans on gut microbiota and human health (2018, sciencedirect.com)
- Antioxidant and Anticancer Activities of Broccoli By-Products from Different Cultivars and Maturity Stages at Harvest (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Apple, raw (2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits (2004, nutritionj.biomedcentral.com)
- Berries: Improving Human Health and Healthy Aging, and Promoting Quality Life—A Review (2010, link.springer.com)
- Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis (1999, academic.oup.com)
- Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota (2016, tandfonline.com)
- Fiber in raw and cooked potatoes (1991, sciencedirect.com)
- Dietary fibre and satiety (2007, onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
- Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Diet-Induced Dysbiosis of the Intestinal Microbiota and the Effects on Immunity and Disease (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects (2012, tandfonline.com)
- Health Benefits of Nut Consumption (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Protein, weight management, and satiety (2008, academic.oup.com)
- Safety and Efficacy of Glucomannan for Weight Loss in Overweight and Moderately Obese Adults (2013, hindawi.com)
- Soluble Dietary Fiber – an overview (n.d., sciencedirect.com)
- The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What is an inflammation? (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Whole Grains | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (n.d., hsph.harvard.edu)