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Eat More Fiber To Regulate Your Energy Intake & Satiety

Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN
Author:
August 9, 2023
Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
By Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Texas Christian University and a master’s in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from Tufts University. She lives in Newport Beach, California, and enjoys connecting people to the food they eat and how it influences health and wellbeing.
Image by mbg Creative / iStock
August 9, 2023
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Diet culture of the '80s and '90s still has a strong impact on our perception of weight loss. Because when we hear those words, our minds automatically jump to restrictive diets and munching on rabbit food. 

But those perceptions aren't the truth. And weight loss doesn't require deprivation to be effective. In fact, eating more of certain foods can keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer, helping you create that calorie deficit (i.e., burning more calories than you're consuming).

And that's where fiber comes in. Fiber has multiple effects on the body that promote a healthy weight and appetite, and decades of research show that people who eat more fiber tend to have a healthier body weight. But unfortunately, many Americans aren't getting enough of this essential nutrient. 

Whether your goal is weight loss or maintenance (or appetite control), here's what you need to know about fiber. 

What is fiber? 

"Fiber is the nondigestible part of carbohydrates," says weight loss dietitian Lauren Hubert, M.S., R.D. Whole carbs (fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains) all naturally contain some fiber. While sugars from these foods are broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose, fiber makes it through the digestive tract relatively unscathed.

Fiber is mainly split into two categories: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance in the gut. Its stickiness slows down digestion and traps and removes unwanted substances like cholesterol and environmental toxins from the body. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, adds "bulk" to stools and helps keep things moving. 

Most foods contain a mixture of both types of fiber.

How does fiber impact weight & satiety?

There are several ways eating more fiber impacts weight and satiety: 

1.

 Promotes satiety & blood sugar balance 

"Fiber is wildly satiating, so it can help you eat overall less food and calories over time, which is helpful when trying to get into a calorie deficit to shed fat,"* emphasizes Hubert. As fiber is not digested, the volume it creates in the gut signals to you and your brain that you're full and can stop eating. 

According to Hubert, fiber also keeps you fuller for longer by balancing your blood sugar levels. Fiber can help prevent massive highs and lows of blood sugar levels that can lead to cravings.* 

2.

Encourages a whole-foods-based diet 

Whole and minimally processed carbohydrate foods are often low in calories and high in fiber (as well as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals). And again, as fiber is not digested and absorbed, it contributes zero calories. 

Large studies that look at people's overall dietary patterns and weight status have found those with higher-fiber diets1 have more favorable measures of metabolic health (like weight and waist circumference) compared to those who eat less fiber2

Eating more whole foods (compared to processed foods3) will naturally increase your daily fiber count while also supporting a calorie deficit. 

3.

Supports immunity & a healthy gut microbiome 

Fiber also plays an important role in our immunity and gut microbiome.* About 70 to 80% of our immune system is located in the gut, and fiber intake positively impacts the composition of the gut microbiome. 

"We see that these factors play a role in our digestive system and there is a connection between a healthy gut and weight management," says Hubert. 

How much fiber should you aim to get?

Hubert generally recommends that her clients get anywhere between 20 and 30 grams of fiber per day through natural food sources to promote general well-being and fat loss in a calorie deficit. 

The National Academies breaks down fiber intake even more by sex 4and recommends women get 21 to 29 grams of fiber a day, and men should consume 30 to 38 grams. 

But on average, people are only getting about 16 grams a day (and only 5% reach The National Academies recommendations). 

So how can you fill that gap?

Eat more fiber-rich foods 

"If you struggle to eat enough fiber naturally in your diet, try eating more whole grains, sweet and regular potatoes, beans and legumes, fruits and veggies (bonus points if you eat the skin that packs more fiber if safe to consume) and nuts," says Hubert. Chia seeds, oatmeal, raspberries, and asparagus are especially good choices. 

Hubert finds that many of her clients eat fiber-rich veggies daily, "but there's not enough on their plate each day. So opting for more veggie-centric meals is great to naturally boost your fiber intake."

Consider adding a fiber supplement 

Taking a high-quality fiber supplement can also play an essential role in:* 

  1. Helping you reach your fiber intake goals
  2. Providing you with science-backed ingredients to support weight maintenance, satiety, and energy

And mindbodygreen formulated organic fiber potency+ to do just that. One serving provides 7 grams of guar bean soluble fiber. Daily intake of this fiber has been shown to 5aid in weight maintenance5 by promoting satiety and healthy energy intake. It also supports gut microbial balance and regularity6.*

This guar bean fiber is paired with a mushroom trio blend, kiwifruit fiber, and a unique spore-forming probiotic strain (to address bloating and gas).*

Registered dietitian Whitney Crouch, RDN, CLT, previously told mbg, "Anyone who has worked on their diet foundation first to reach the minimum recommended intake, or who has early satiety when eating a nutrient-rich diet, still needs more fiber. This is where a supplement can be a beneficial addition to your daily regimen.”*

The takeaway

Fiber is vital to many functions in the body, especially those around appetite regulation, energy intake, and weight. And like most Americans, you likely aren't getting enough (currently) in your diet. If your goal is to create a calorie deficit or to help counter weight gain, then it's time to make more room for fiber in your day. Prioritize a whole-food eating pattern and consider incorporating a supplement for a more targeted approach. 

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN author page.
Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist and mindbodygreen's supplements editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Texas Christian University and a master’s in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from Tufts University. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts and enjoys connecting people to the food they eat and how it influences health and wellbeing.