So you’ve been working out at the gym for months now; you’ve increased your protein intake and you’ve been doing cardio like a madman or woman, but you’re still not getting the fat loss results that you desire. This is happening to countless people around the world as they strive for that dream body and those six pack abs. As a personal trainer in San Francisco I can’t tell you how many people tell me that they want to lose inches around their midsection, get rid of their man boobs or lose those cottage cheese thighs, but never take the time to look a bit closer at their diet. As they say, you can’t always have the cake, eat it too and expect to look like an abs model.
You see, exercise alone will never get you the fat loss results you desire. It is only through exercise and well balanced nutrition that you will be able to shed those extra kilos and lose body fat. So when I make professional recommendations as a personal trainer regarding diet, one of the first things that I instruct a client is that they need to increase their consumption of whole foods; mainly fruits, vegetables and lean cuts of meat.
Most of us frown at the site of vegetables and many of us were conditioned from an early age to dislike vegetables as our parents typically had no idea how to present them or prepare them. They simply put them on the plate as an afterthought. We were commanded to eat them and were told that if we didn’t eat them we couldn’t have desert. So what do we do as adults? We say, my parents aren’t here to tell me what to do so I’ll skip the vegetables and go straight for the desert.
But here lies the problem in our quest for Fat Loss. The dietary fiber which comes from vegetables is a key component for not only your body’s overall health but it’s also a strong supporter of fat loss. Many of us have been told before that fiber will help fight against heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes and colon cancer, but there is much more to fiber than meets the eye. Here are a few ways that fiber can help you to your fat loss goals.
Fiber controls appetite. Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water and absorb large amounts of water while traveling through your digestive tract. It tends to add bulk and will give you a full feeling of satiety. This will assist you in consuming less calories overall and contribute to overall fat loss and weight loss.
Research shows that fiber lowers estrogen levels, which in men is tremendously important in helping prevent prostate cancer. But estrogen also contributes to the body causing it to store more fat and works contrary to your fat loss goals. This is also a reason why women tend to carry more body fat than men. Men also have estrogen within the body and it may be lowered by increasing the amount of fiber in the daily diet.
Fiber has been shown to improve protein absorption by slowing the rate of protein moving through the body and allowing your body a longer period of time to digest and absorb it.
Insulin is also a major factor if fat loss or fat storage. Fiber works by slowing the process of sugar absorption so that the release of insulin into the bloodstream is also slowed. Insulin contributes to the storage of excess body fat so the lower the insulin spike is the better off your body fat will be. Not to mention, high levels of insulin contribute to Insulin Resistance and in turn Diabetes.
If you’re not consuming fiber then it’s time to get on it. The average person consumes well below a suitable level of fiber per day. There are no specific guidelines but research has shown that 25 to 30 grams and even up to 40 grams of fiber per day is a good level. Unfortunately, most people are consuming less than 15 grams per day of fiber.
Now don’t run out and jump to 30 grams immediately. Take your time and work your way up. Increasing fiber immediately can have adverse reactions like gas, irritable bowels, bloating, etc. Increase slowly and give your body time to adjust.
Also be sure to divide your fiber intake throughout your meals. If you are on a 5 to 6 meal a day plan which includes snacks, try to get 5 to 6 grams of fiber with each.
Make sure to get both types of fiber, insoluble and soluble. To lower body fat insoluble fiber is recommended. Whole grain cereals (like whole rolled oats) and apples are a good choice. Psyillium Husk can also be an excellent source of insoluble fiber.
Like I have said in many of my previous articles, fat loss doesn’t happen overnight. For fat loss you will need a bit of patience. Don’t set your expectations too high. Give it at least 30 days before you start to see the long term external benefits of fiber, but realize that from day one you have started the cleanup process from the inside out.
Feel free to leave your comments, questions or your own personal input in the comments section below.
By Rich Thurman, B.Sc., MA, CSCS, CPT
Health & Performance Coach