…and keep it off!
Yep, we’re gonna talk about fiber - and POOP - today, y’all.
As an endoscopy nurse, I could chat about this topic all day long. People often get grossed out talking about “doin’ the doo”, but getting enough fiber and having regular bowel movements are seriously SO important for both overall health AND weight loss/management.
Yep, you read that right. You can actually lose weight by eating a high-fiber diet.
Now, let me clarify. This doesn’t mean eat a “whatever I want as long as I add some fiber” diet. It means eating a diet high in fiber, low in added sugars, high in protein, and with a balanced amount of heart healthy fats.
So WHY is fiber so beneficial?
Fiber is the indigestible part of carbs that bulks up our stools and helps the digested food pass through our colon. Read: It helps us poop. This is important because it keeps our digestive tract clean, drastically lessening the growth of certain cancers and the development of diverticulosis (“pockets” that form in the intestines over time). Not having stool just sitting in our colon also reduces inflammation and helps regulate the amount of good bacteria in the gut.
Fiber also slows the absorption of carbs, which in turn slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream. This means less blood sugar spikes and crashes. And since it takes longer to digest, it keeps up feeling full longer.
Bonus: Regular bowel movements also help improve our overall mood, since around 90% of our serotonin is found in our gut. Who would’ve thought pooping could boost your mood?! I’ll take it!
But what about the losing weight/weight management part?
Studies have shown that people who eat a high-fiber diet lost significantly more weight than people who ate a lower amount of calories with a lower amount of fiber. This is partly because fiber helps us fill up/stay feeling full longer (as I mentioned before), but it’s also because fiber takes more energy to digest, which means your body is burning calories just by eating! Not only that, but research shows it also binds to fat and sugar molecule as they go through your digestive tract and help reduce the amount your body is actually absorbing, meaning you actually digest less calories than you ingest. Crazy, right?!
"Fiber binds with fat and sugar molecules as they travel through your digestive tract, which reduces the number of calories you actually get.”
- Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of The F-Factor Diet
Now that we know how important fiber is, let’s talk about how you can increase your intake of it.
Below are some of my personal favorite fiber-rich foods. Most of them are gluten-free, except for the ones I’ve flagged (with an *). While I do avoid gluten most of the time (due to a sensitivity), I have found that eating these foods does not mess with my stomach. Probably because they’re essentially just fiber! However, if you have a gluten allergy/Celiac Disease, I would obviously stick to the gluten-free options.
GG’s crackers* (4g per cracker!)
Alyssa’s vegan bites/healthy oatmeal bites (5g per cookie)
Wasa Crisps Flax Seed Crackers (4g per serving)
Beans (lentils being the highest, with 10-15g per cup cooked)
Whole Grains (such as brown rice, with 3.5g per cup cooked)
Raspberries (8g per cup)
Blackberries (8g per cup)
Oatmeal (4g per 1/2 C dry)
Green beans (3-4g per serving)
Chia seeds (10g per 2 Tbsp)
Almonds (3g per 1 oz)
Now I’m sure you’re wondering how much fiber is enough?
Most sources say women should get between 25-30g per day (although I personally aim for the higher end of that - if not a little more), while men need between 30-38g per day. Most Americans only get around 11-15g each day (!!), which makes sense because of how many products out nowadays are processed to death and stripped of all nutrients - including fiber. Sooo basically we’re all walking around full of crap. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
Ok, I’m so glad we had this little chat. Now go eat some fiber (making sure to drink lots of water, too!), get yo’ poop on, and SEE THE HEALTH BENEFITS! I expect a full report back in a week or so. Kidding! Well…sort of. Ha!