Nary a day goes by that we at Byrdie don’t hear about a new diet trend—each one sounding more promising than the last, but often requiring a menu overhaul. Now, that’s fine if you have the time and patience to make all the drastic changes, but show me one person who wouldn’t rather simple tweaks that give just-as-good weight loss results. Thought so.
That’s why I’m all ears over a study that suggests that fibre is the secret to losing weight. Yep, that same vital nutrient you eat every day without even thinking about it. The findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School after they analysed the weight loss of 240 volunteers.
Half of those volunteers were assigned to the American Heart Association diet, which saw them reduce their daily calorie intake and hit targets relating to how much saturated fat they should eat. Meanwhile, the other half were asked to eat at least 30 grams of fibre each day, just by eating more fibre-rich foods like fruit and vegetables. (It’s that easy.)
After a year, volunteers in both groups were found to have lost about the same amount of weight, suggesting that upping your fibre can be as effective as the go-to solution of dropping your calories. Now, I don’t know about you, but adding more fruit and veg to my usual diet sounds a whole lot easier than being restrictive and cutting out some of my favourite foods. Pasta is just too good to resist.
The question is, how does chowing down on more fibre and quitting the calorie-counting aid weight loss? Joe Jackson, nutritional therapist for KIKI Health, says it helps in two ways. First of all, “Fibre is a type of carbohydrate which is not easily digested by the human body,” he explains. “Therefore, the bulk of it will remain in the stomach and small intestine, making you feel fuller for longer.”
Jackson continues: “Not only is this great for helping bulk up our stools, allowing for regular excretion, it can also contribute to a slower release of sugar in to the blood stream—meaning there will be less chance of it being stored as fat.”
And, I don’t mean to be uncouth, but we all know that excretion has, er, “cleansing” benefits, which skincare supremo Debbie Thomas says can help to reduce the appearance of acne. Though she also recommends a diet low in dairy and sugar to clear up spots, she explains that “fibre promotes regular bowel movements, which helps us to eliminate toxins,” therefore reducing inflammation in the body and skin. So, that makes it a win-win.
But, now you know how fibre can positively impact your body and complexion, what can you do to incorporate more into your diet without making drastic changes? For starters, your five-a-day helps, so make sure you’re chowing down on plenty of fruit and vegetables. Jackson says that “the most reliable way of ensuring you are consuming an adequate amount of fibre is to eat them with the skin on.”
He adds that “replacing animal protein with some good quality vegan protein from lentils and pulses will also be great for upping your fibre intake, so try adding a handful to soups and stews.” Meanwhile, Lorraine Perretta, head of nutrition for Advanced Nutrition, recommends loading up on “peas, beans, apples and carrots,” as well as a palmful of walnuts or almonds as a healthy snack.
As for how much fibre you should be eating, the optimal amount according to Jackson is at least 25 grams, and it’s important that some of it is consumed during breakfast. Starting your day with the stuff will “keep you feeling fuller for longer,” he says. “Plus it will slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, decreasing the chances of those pesky mid-morning energy dips which make you want to grab for the most sugary thing possible.”
Are you ready to start getting more fibre into your daily meals? Scroll through to see the supplements and books that make upping your intake even easier…
High in fibre, and gluten- and wheat-free, this fine powder is perfect for sprinkling over your meals or blending into an already fibre-rich smoothie.
Putting the emphasis on gut health over faddy diets, Tim Spector convincingly highlights the importance of microbes and reveals how fibre helps to nourish them.
This “cleansing” powder is packed with fibre-high psyllium husks and slippery elm to flush out toxins, plus soy lecithin, which is known for helping to break down fat.
This no-frills recipe book does what it says on the cover. It’s full of high-fibre recipes that are both delicious and easy to whip up when you’re tight on time. Which is always, no?
Are you about to start getting more fibre into your daily eating plan? Let us know your thoughts and recipes in the comments below.