By Tracey Karele, Nutritionist at The AIM Companies™
Most of us are familiar with the digestive health benefits of dietary fiber. However, did you know it can also help you to lose weight? With the myriad of "miracle" weight loss products out there, it's amazing to think something as simple as plain old fiber can help you to shed those unwanted kilograms.
In fact, the relationship between dietary fiber, satiety (the feeling of fullness) and weight management is well established. The strongest data supporting this relationship seems to come from epidemiological (population health) studies which show that dietary fiber intake is lower in obese men and women when compared with lean men and women; and that body mass index (BMI) is lower with higher fiber consumption for both men and women.
There are two main classes of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is so called because it is able to dissolve in water. Once dissolved, it swells and imparts a gummy or gel-like characteristic to foods. Some sources include oat bran, beans, peas and most fruits. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and passes through the body largely unchanged. Some sources include wheat bran, whole grain cereals and wholemeal breads.
How Does It Work?
Researchers believe that the beneficial effect of fiber in weight regulation is due to several possibilities. Foods that are high in fiber generally require more chewing time - this gives the body time to register when the appetite is satisfied, thus reducing the risk of over-eating. High fiber foods also tend to be less energy dense - offering fewer calories for the same volume of food.
Soluble fiber, in particular, can help with weight management by increasing satiety. It absorbs water and swells in volume, moving slowly through the intestines and helping you to feel fuller for longer. Soluble fiber also slows the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates from the small intestine, thereby improving the body's handling of glucose and insulin. This ability to reduce insulin secretion and hence fat deposition may also play a role in the prevention of weight gain.
Evidence of Efficacy
In a Spanish study reviewed by the British Journal of Nutrition, 200 overweight or obese patients received either soluble fiber (Plantago ovata husk or psyllium and glucomannan) or placebo twice or three times a day for sixteen weeks. Over the sixteen weeks, the participants that received the soluble fiber supplement lost on average 4kg more than the participants in the placebo group. Also, the participants in the soluble fiber group reported an increase in satiety after consuming the fiber.
A team of researchers, lead by Dr. David S. Ludwig of the Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, examined the diets of over 2900 individuals between 18 and 30 years of age. They found at all levels of fat intake, individuals who ate at least 21 grams of fiber per day gained, on average, 3.6 kilograms less over the ten year period than those who ate the least amount of fiber.
A study of 2909 young adult males also found that a higher dietary fiber intake was associated with lower body weight, lower blood pressure, better blood glucose control, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Reviews of randomized trials have also found that a high intake of dietary fiber promotes weight loss.
Phillip Jermann is a biologist in the quality assurance department at The AIM Companies™ corporate office in Idaho, USA. Phillip kindly provided his own powerful testimony that further strengthens the relationship between weight loss and an increased fiber intake.
Original weight: 114kg Current weight: 80kg
Original hip: 43 inches Current Hip: 38.5 inches
Original waist: 43 inches Current Waist: 37 inches
Phillip Jermann finally reached his limit when he weighed in at 114 kg. "And that's just when I finally weighed myself, so I know I was more than that at one time," says Phillip. "I am the laziest guy ever; I don't like to do exercise at all. I was very athletic in high school but then I went to college and I just ballooned."
Phillip began trying to lose weight around the time that AIM was developing fit 'n fiber, which provides 12g of fiber per serving. Phillip took it regularly until the end of 2008 and lost about 9kg just from that one small change. It wasn't until autumn of 2009, when his weight was still somewhere around 105 kg that he decided it was time for him to really focus on losing weight.
"At that time I started adding the ProPeas to the fit ‘n fiber," says Phillip. "I added exercise to that and also started counting my calories every day. In January 2010 I started to get into it really hard, and I've been doing it from January until now."
Fortunately, Phillip had some extra motivation. From this past April to June, the employees at the AIM corporate office held a weight-loss contest amongst themselves. Phillip didn't have the confidence to participate in the company contest in 2009, but this year he was already on his way to a healthier weight.
"Because I'm super competitive, as soon as the fitness challenge started my first thought was, 'I am going to beat everybody.' It helped to keep me motivated for sure," says Phillip.
Phillip began his exercise regime in January by walking during his lunch breaks at work. He would drive to a pond nearby and walk around the track once or twice. Eventually, one lap turned into two, and two turned into three. From there he began to jog, and now he runs from the AIM building to the track and jogs almost five miles a day, five days a week.
Phillip won the office fitness challenge and is now working on his long-term weight loss goals. Though getting in shape wasn't easy, his biggest struggle with the lifestyle change was watching what he ate. "The diet was the hardest part," says Phillip. "I watch Food Network; I like to eat, I like to cook, I like things to taste good. But I ate out all the time and I ate the worst foods."
Phillip has found that one of the best ways to combat hunger is by using the ProPeas and the fit 'n fiber at different times during the day. He still eats regular meals, but the products keep him full and satisfied between them. "If I'm hungry between breakfast and lunch, I'll make some fit 'n fiber with some ProPeas," says Phillip. "Or if I'm feeling hungry in the afternoon and I want a snack, that's when I take the products. So it's not at the same time every day, but I just use them when I feel like my body needs it."
Now Phillip has more energy and more self-confidence, and is almost at his goal weight of 79kg. The best advice he can give to someone hoping to follow in his footsteps is to use the products. "Some people are taking maybe one product like Herbal Fiberblend and they think that's enough, but they don't get the satiety or that feeling of fullness," says Phillip. "Then when you add that to the ProPeas and you're getting that protein source that's low in calories, it sustains you. So you feel full from the fit 'n fiber and you have protein for your body to burn… people don't realize how much help those two products are."
"There's no such thing as a magic pill, so using those products is the best thing to do," he says. "And the second is counting calories. I've counted everything I've eaten since January. I use free websites online to track my calories every day."
Phillip thinks it's possible that some people try the two products together and don't see results right away, so they stop using them. He emphasizes the importance of understanding that weight loss doesn't happen overnight. "You’ve got to have some kind of plan," says Phillip. "I'd say to myself, "I need to write down what I'm putting in my body, I need to take my products, and I need to burn some of it off. Whether it's taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from the door at work, or walking a mile every day… just do what you can do."
Note: Testimonials should not be construed as representing results everyone can achieve. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.