Increase Fiber to Lose Weight! An Integrative Approach to Weight Loss


Written by Clare Abercrombie As the cold weather begins to set-in, we make a change to our eating habits. We shift our diets and begin including higher calorie foods to give ourselves an extra layer for the winter! But if you, like so many Americans, including myself, are already envisioning next summer’s beach body, you may want to consider including a daily dose of fiber to your diet. "We've known forever that if you eat a lot of fiber, you lose weight," says Kelly Swanson, a professor of comparative nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. How does this happen? How can adding a few more raspberries or a cup of split pea soup actually make us lose weight? To answer these questions we must first take a look at what fiber does for our bodies, why we need fiber to function, and finally how fiber affects our fat storage.

Fiber and the Microbiome

Everyday, we learn more about the impact of a healthy gut microbiome. Aside from prebiotic and probiotic rich foods and supplements, how can we nurture our beneficial gut bacteria? Beneficial gut bacteria feed on fiber and eliminate nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the form of short-chain fatty acids (SFCAs). SFCAs are particularly important in protecting your body from obesity, particularly because your body is able to uptake the most bioavailable forms of nutrients and minerals through SCFAs. Secondly, an increased amount of fiber in your diet correlates to a larger population of Bacteriodetes bacteria and decreased population of Firmicutes. This ratio is directly linked to lower body mass index (BMI). Lastly, if the bacteria in your gut does not have enough fiber to feed on, they begin feeding on the protective mucosal layer of your intestines. If this layer is compromised, it can lead to infections and malabsorption of nutrients, minerals, fats, and vitamins, which can leave you feeling hungry and fatigued!

How to evaluate your fiber needs

Integrative medicine has the benefit of utilizing advanced functional medicine testing to provide personalized medical recommendations. My favorite, a stool study can actually measure your SCFAs and your Bacteriodetes to firmicutes ratio to provide real insight to YOUR microbiome! While the daily recommendations for fiber intake is 25-30 grams daily, knowing your personal needs can help improve your gut health and spark weight loss.

Here are some quality fiber sources to help you achieve 25 to 30 grams daily.

Fiber Sources: Grams per Serving Size
0-5 grams 5-10 grams 10-15 grams 15-20 grams
Apple (1 medium sized) Raspberries (1 cup) Artichoke (boiled, 1 medium sized) Split peas (boiled, 1 cup)
Banana (1 medium) Pear (1 medium sized) Chia seeds (2 tbsp) Lentils (boiled 1 cup)
Brussle Sprouts (boiled, 1 cup) Spaghetti (whole-wheat, 1 cup) Lima beans (boiled,1 cup) Black beans (boiled, 1 cup)
Ground flax seeds (2tbsp) Barley (pearled, 1 cup) Broccoli (boiled, 1.5 cups) Green peas (boiled, 2 cups)

If you incorporate more fibrous foods into your diet, go slowly, and drink adequate amounts of water. This will ensure you body absorbs the fiber and you decrease the likelihood of experiencing bloating and constipation.