Dietary fiber is one of the fundamentals of a healthy diet. Although it is a form of complex carbohydrate, it is so complex that it is not digestible for use as energy like other carbohydrates (fruit, bread, pasta, etc.). This can confuse consumers a bit and keep them from losing inches, as fiber “calories” must be listed as carbohydrates on food and supplement labels, yet they are actually a “no calorie” type of food.
Our government recommends 25 grams of fiber per day. Americans eating the typical refined-food diet get about half that amount but are able to lose inches. The American Cancer Society recommends 20 – 35 grams of fiber per day, based on research indicating that higher fiber intake may reduce the risk of various forms of cancer. The FDA allows a health claim for certain types of fiber, like psyllium and oats, for the reduction of heart disease. Several Wellness Resources fiber-containing products qualify for this heart-friendly claim (Fiber Helper and Daily Protein Plus – Original).
In terms of using fiber to support weight management I recommend 35 – 50 grams of fiber per day (men on the higher side), based on information presented in this article. A lack of adequate dietary fiber will eventually stall any weight-loss efforts.
There are two forms of fiber, water-soluble and water-insoluble.
Insoluble fiber is typically in skins of fruit and structural components of grains and vegetables. It provides bulk to your stools and helps your colon contents move along in a timely manner, helping to clear toxins and prevent constipation. Whole wheat and other whole grains contain large amounts of insoluble fiber.
Most vegetables are a mix of insoluble and soluble fiber. The structural, tougher fibers are insoluble, whereas the pulpy parts are soluble. Fruits are mostly soluble fiber, unless you are eating the skins (like an apple skin which is insoluble). Other common soluble fibers include oat bran, oatmeal, barley, and legumes. Psyllium, a frequently used fiber supplement, is 70% soluble fiber and 10% insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber intake supports healthy cholesterol and blood sugar metabolism.
As a general rule of thumb a diet high in fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, legumes, and whole grains is vital for getting adequate dietary fiber, being healthy, and living longer. Conversely, the American junk food and fast food industry is famous for churning out garbage food that produces obesity, diabetes, breast cancer, and early death – in part due to the lack of fiber.
How Fiber Helps Weight Loss and Leptin
Obesity is at epidemic levels in America, partly due to the lack of fiber in the American diet. Both insoluble and soluble fibers help you to feel fuller, so that you don’t want to eat as much food that contains calories. Insoluble fiber tends to promote bowels moving along, the bulk or size of your stools, and ease of bowel movements (reducing constipation and hemorrhoids). Soluble fiber slows gastric emptying while stimulating digestive enzyme release, thus enabling better digestion of food as well as slowing the rate of calorie surge into your blood resulting in better metabolic control.
Both types of fiber help weight loss by acting as a “sponge” for toxic waste which is vital to get out during the weight-loss process. It is important to realize that stored fat is not only a warehouse for surplus calories but also a storage bin for excess fat-soluble toxins and pollution – which must come back out again when you lose weight. If you can’t get these out of your body correctly as they re-enter your bloodstream, then you run the risk of getting poisoned while you try to lose weight. In some cases your body will not give up a toxic layer of fat, as a defense mechanism, so you don’t get poisoned (meaning you will be stuck at a toxic-based weight-loss plateau).
While nutrients that help your liver (Daily Balancer), lymph (Immune Plus), or bind toxins in your GI tract (like Chlorella) can be very helpful during weight loss efforts – the most basic toxin-absorbing compound is adequate dietary fiber. Fiber helps to sequester bile acids as they enter your digestive tract, and it is these cholesterol-containing bile acids that also contain the fat-soluble toxins that your liver is excreting. Thus, a lack of fiber in general and constipation in particular will cause you to become too toxic as you try to lose weight – problems which bring weight loss to a halt.
While you need both types of fiber to assist weight loss, a case can be made that soluble fiber is the most important. This is because soluble fiber, by regulating the pace of calorie digestion and release into your bloodstream, has a profound effect of blood glucose, insulin, and leptin.
Leptin is the key hormone that must be considered by any person seeking to lose weight – more important than thyroid, insulin, growth hormone, and adrenal hormones – because it controls all of them!
When you eat a meal you release insulin to transport calories. Insulin transports some of those calories (regardless of your body weight) to your white adipose tissue. When blood sugar arrives in the insulin taxi cab at your white adipose tissue it stimulates your fat cells into action which make some leptin. This leptin enters your blood, goes up to your brain, and when leptin levels get high enough (meaning you’ve eaten enough), leptin tells your brain you are have had enough to eat and feel satisfied.
Once your brain gets the leptin-driven full signal then all other hormonal systems, such as thyroid, are given a green light and energy production and metabolism run at an optimal pace (as your subconscious brain knows you aren’t starving). At the same time, the higher levels of leptin signal your pancreas to quit making insulin, thus completing the feeding and calorie transport process. This is the normal way your body handles a meal, transports the calories to needed places, and tells you that you are full.
When you lack dietary fiber at a meal, then carbohydrate calories rush into your blood with too large a spike. This causes an excess surge of insulin, and an excess production of leptin by fat cells. At the same time, insulin, having too much sugar on its hands, starts making triglycerides that are now at higher than optimal levels in your blood. These extra triglycerides clog leptin receptors at your blood-brain barrier, preventing leptin from getting into your brain and you from getting a full signal on a normal amount of food. This means you have to eat more food to eventually get a leptin-driven full signal, resulting in weight gain. If you do this on a regular basis you develop insulin resistance and leptin resistance.
If you eat less food, so that your brain doesn’t really get the leptin-driven full signal, then your body thinks it is starving and your metabolism is not given a green light, again resulting in weight gain even from lower calorie intake. People stuck in this rut are darned if they do and darned if they don’t. Any person who is overweight and cannot easily lose weight is stuck in one of these two patterns of insulin and leptin inefficiency.
Adequate soluble fiber can go a long way towards breaking you out of this metabolic rut, cutting your desire for food, and helping you get normal leptin-driven full signals eating less food. Science shows that when this is happening your blood glucose levels are better, insulin resistance is improved, and leptin works better.
One study evaluating metabolically obese women (women with too much abdominal fat even if their total weight was OK) found that one key difference was they lacked fiber in their diet. This lack of fiber was associated with increased inflammation coming from white adipose tissue (TNFa Cytokine involved with systemic inflammation and regulation of immune cells. It is able to induce cell death, and inhibits tumorigenesis and viral replication. When dysfunctional it is associated with a number of disease processes. and IL6), elevated triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance, and elevated leptin (leptin resistance). On top of that these women had more of the potentially plaque-forming small particles of LDL and more oxidized LDL (LDL that is damaged and also more likely to form plaque.)
Another study showed that Kellogg’s Corn Flakes sugar-shocked healthy volunteers, compared to a higher fiber cereal. The higher fiber meal enabled a better insulin response, which resulted in more normal leptin response. The Corn Flakes meal was a metabolic disaster – even for a healthy person. This is more evidence that the makers of refined and sugar-laden junk grains are setting up a clear path to leptin problems and obesity for Americans.
It is a national disgrace that young people are becoming type II diabetic from their overweight conditions. One study in young Japanese women, ages 18-20, found that the lack of fiber was directly associated with obesity risk. In another study of young Japanese diabetic women, ages 18-22, it was found that the only diet variable that was associated with high levels of leptin (leptin resistance) was dietary fiber intake. The lower their intake of dietary fiber, the worse their leptin levels. This was true regardless of body mass index.
It is vital to follow the Five Rules of the Leptin Diet in order to lose weight healthfully. Additionally, having adequate soluble fiber and high quality protein are two of the key issues that make sustained weight loss possible – because they help improve the function of leptin – the key hormone that determines if calories will make you fat or be metabolized as fuel.
The Wellness Resources Fiber Products
In my years of experience with many dieters, appetite is optimally suppressed by a fiber intake ranging from 35 – 50 grams of fiber per day. How much you personally need is easy to judge, because when you get enough you have far less desire to over eat or eat food in response to stress.
The challenge for any dieter is cutting back on carbohydrates while trying to increase fiber intake. During a reduced-calorie diet it is common that dieters will have two servings of fruit per day, usually breakfast and lunch, and two servings of vegetables per day, usually lunch and dinner or both at dinner. A serving of fruit or vegetables averages about 4 grams of fiber per serving. Assuming four servings per day, that is 16 grams of fiber.
One cup of oatmeal or two slices of whole wheat toast also have 4 grams of fiber. Legumes and bran cereal have about 8 grams of fiber per serving. If you are trying to lose weight you will typically need to limit this type of food to one serving per day, or 4-8 grams of fiber.
Even though this adds up to 20-24 grams of fiber, it is not enough fiber for most overweight people to feel satisfied. It might be enough fiber for a normal weight person with a normal appetite and good leptin balance, but if you are overweight this amount of fiber won’t keep you from circling the refrigerator and looking for food after your dinner is complete.
Whole wheat fiber and bread products are a horrible way to boost fiber in your diet when you are trying to lose weight (one serving a day is fine). This type of fiber is mostly insoluble fiber and what you really need to boost up is soluble fiber intake. Secondly, the carbohydrate calorie content of these foods becomes excessive for weight loss when they are over-consumed, aggravating problems of insulin and leptin resistance.
This leaves you with fruit as a choice for more soluble fiber, but you really don’t want any more fruit-sugar calories either (beyond two servings). That leaves vegetables. Eat as many as you like to make your fiber amount, if you want to, except the high-sugar carrots, corn, and peas (use spices as desired to make them taste better, not large amounts of salad dressing).
It is far easier to use no-calorie supplemental fiber to increase your fiber intake, reduce your appetite, and boost your metabolic efficiency. The problem with most fiber products on the market is that they taste terrible, gel up too much when they are mixed, and/or contain natural or artificial sweeteners that throw their own monkey wrench into your leptin-taste system.
I have designed two specialty fiber products, Fiber Helper and LeptiFiber, both very high in soluble fiber (8-9 grams of soluble fiber per heaping tablespoon). Both products mix easily in water or a protein drink, do not gel up and gag you, have little taste, and have no added sweeteners of any kind.
Fiber Helper is comprised of Nutrim® oat bran, arabinogalactan fiber, and small particle psyllium seed husk. The oat and psyllium in this product qualify for the FDA’s approved health claim, which is as follows:
“Soluble fiber from foods such as oats and psyllium, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of Fiber Helper supplies .75 grams of the needed 3 grams of oat beta glucan soluble fiber from oats and 3.5 grams of the needed 7 grams of soluble fiber from psyllium necessary per day to have this affect. Thus, 1 serving provides 75% of the soluble fiber per day for this FDA approved health claim.”
Nutrim oat bran was originally developed and patented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has long been known that oat soluble-fiber beta-glucans support the maintenance of healthy cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood sugar. Nutrim not only concentrates these important beta glucans, but also provides a smooth mouth feel with a mild oat flavor, making it the best form of oat beta glucan to easily consume.
Arabinogalactan fiber, which is in both Fiber Helper and LeptiFiber, is a glyconutrient of 6 parts galactose to 1 part arabinose, with small amounts of glucuronic acid arranged in a highly branched configuration. This highly branched structure is slowly fermented, meaning that this type of fiber does not cause gas and bloating. It has been proven to have high digestive tolerance in dosages up to 30 grams per day, though fiber-related benefits have been demonstrated at the dose of 5 grams per day (the serving size in either Fiber Helper or LeptiFiber). It has been shown to increase the production of friendly flora and important colon-protecting short chain fatty acids, while decreasing the production of unfriendly flora and ammonia.
We include psyllium in this product because it is one of the better soluble fibers that also promotes stool bulk and regularity. It is very important to keep your bowels moving forward during weight loss. We use specially filtered small-particle psyllium, which reduces the gelling and clumpiness that is associated with other psyllium products.
This unique mix of three fibers in Fiber Helper is a premier fiber supplement, with documented support for a variety of health needs – including regularity. One serving has 10 grams of dietary fiber, 9 of which are soluble. The overall product is easy mixing with a mild oat flavor.
Our other fiber product is called LeptiFiber. This is a combination of the arabinogalactan fiber described above and partially hydrolyzed guar gum fiber – another great soluble fiber source. We made this second fiber product for several reasons:
1) Some people do not tolerate psyllium or oats, so it is an additional high-quality fiber alternative.
2) Both fibers in LeptiFiber dissolve almost completely in water and leave little taste, making them very easy to mix in any beverage.
3) This makes LeptiFiber an easy to use product before your largest meals of the day, a great way to naturally reduce appetite, feel full on less food, and maintain your diet.
4) We also made it in capsules so you can take it with you to work and easily use it before lunch, in the middle of the afternoon, or before coming home for dinner (take 5-10 capsules at a time to get a good fiber dose – 600 mg per capsule).
Whenever you are increasing soluble fiber intake it is best to do so gradually, enabling your lower colon to get used to the extra fiber. It is natural that soluble fiber will increase metabolic activity in your lower colon, which is quite good for you. If you do it too fast you may get gas or bloating. If so, cut back, let your system calm down, and then gradually increase intake to the desired level that supports appetite control and improved metabolism.
The Power of Increasing Quality Protein and Fiber
In addition to adding quality fiber to your diet, the other basic change that favors weight loss is increasing quality protein that is rich in branch chain amino acids, such as optimally filtered whey protein. Unlike most other amino acids, branch chain amino acids are metabolized in your muscle. They enhance insulin signaling to your muscles, also boost CCK to help regulate your appetite, natural stimulate your liver into metabolic gear, and prevent muscle wasting during weight loss.
To reach the weight-loss boosting amount of protein, you need between three-fourths of your ideal weight up to three-fourths of your actual weight, in grams of protein per day. To optimize weight management efforts and stabilize your energy and appetite, it is vital to start your day with a high protein meal. For example, if you are someone who likes oatmeal, oat bran, or a wheat bran cereal for breakfast to help with your fiber intake, you are better off having that meal at lunch or dinner – or you could have a protein smoothie along with the fiber-containing cereal. For a comprehensive review of protein during weight loss please read my feature article, How Protein Helps Weight Loss.
Soluble fiber taken with fine quality whey protein enhances the digestion and absorption of the protein, as the fiber holds the protein in the stomach and small intestine longer, while enhancing the release of digestive enzymes.
I have designed three specialty whey protein, soluble fiber, and antioxidant powdered drinks for mixing with a spoon or in a blender to make a smoothie. These are called Daily Protein Plus.
The Original formula of Daily Protein Plus contains 21 grams of protein, 7.5 grams of Nutrim oat bran, and 900 mg of high antioxidant mangosteen whole fruit powder (ORAC
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