If you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, a high-fiber diet is an essential part of your program.
Not only do high-fiber sources like fruits and vegetables tend to be low in calories, but the fiber they contain slows digestion, which helps to keep you feeling full.
For example, an apple is more filling than apple juice because of the fiber it contains. Additionally, foods that contain fiber often take longer to chew, giving you time to realize that you are satisfied on a smaller portion.
A high-fiber diet has also been linked to other health benefits including lower blood cholesterol levels, better blood sugar control, and bowel regularity.
Types of fiber
Dietary fiber is found only in plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Functional fiber is a newer term referring to isolated fiber that is added to foods.
Sources of fiber
The number of food products on the market advertising added fiber has grown significantly in the past few years as food manufacturers have tuned in to our desire for higher fiber foods. Added fiber can now be found in everything from yogurt to soups.
Inulin is the most common functional fiber being added to foods and can be found in a food product’s list of ingredients. Keep in mind, foods that naturally contain fiber are the best source of fiber because you’ll benefit from other nutrients in the food like antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Functional fiber has not been shown to have the same benefits as dietary fiber, and foods fortified with fiber tend to be overly processed.
Adding fiber to your diet after weight-loss surgery
After bariatric surgery, it can be difficult to obtain adequate fiber from foods due to much smaller portion sizes so taking a fiber supplement or using foods with functional fiber may be beneficial. Aim for consuming 15 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories that you eat.
Tips for adding more fiber to your diet:
- Add more fiber gradually, a week or two at a time. Adding fiber too quickly can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and gassiness.
- Spread out your fiber intake throughout the day rather than loading up in one sitting.
- Eat whole fruits instead of juice. High-fiber fruits include raspberries, pears and figs.
- Use beans and lentils as a source of both fiber and protein.
- Make all of your grains whole grains and don’t be afraid to switch it up—try quinoa, brown rice, bulgar or faro. Look for cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and breads and crackers with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Talk to your program registered dietitian for more tips on how to get enough fiber in your diet.