One of the common causes of diet failure is not feeling full enough and simply needing to or wanting to eat more food. Any low fat, low calorie diet therefore that can alleviate hunger or delay it for longer is beneficial and more likely to succeed. High fibre foods keep you fuller for longer.
Foods with a low glycaemic index which means their carbohydrates release energy more slowly is one of the ways of staving off hunger pangs for longer and so are foods that have a high fibre content. Fibre is practically indigestible material mainly found on the outer layers of plants. This form of carbohydrate requires a lot of the body’s energy to try and break down its nutrients so the body can use them. As the fibre is highly resistant to these metabolic processes, foods with a high fibre content are often found to be negative calorie foods – i.e. they take more energy to process than the calorific value they provide. High fibre foods not only address the issue of feeling fuller for longer, but they are also fat burning foods.
Fibre is a carbohydrate, and these are the body’s key resource for energy production. There are two kinds of dietary fibre – soluble and insoluble fibre.
Soluble Fibre dissolves when added to water. It is beneficial to the body’s chemical processing because it regulates and maintains both blood sugars and cholesterol.
Insoluble fibre is the indigestible kind that comes primarily from plant cell walls and does not dissolve in water.
One of the major benefits of fibre is that it works to maintain the efficacy of the gastrointestinal system and metabolic processes. It plays an important role in managing blood sugars and responses to insulin, it reduces hyperlipidaemia (cholesterol) and associated risks of heart disease, is thought to reduce risk of cancer (just by keeping body healthy rather than any specific cancer fighting properties) and helps weight management.
A diet rich in high fibre foods also reduces risk of diabetes, haemorrhoids, bowel disease, hernias, and diverticulitis. Some specific types of fibre, such as that derived from oats, are claimed by research to reduce the risk of heart disease.
All of these properties of fibre are believed to work when ingested as part of a low fat, low cholesterol, balanced diet.
Because fibre is bulky in nutritional terms, it stays in your stomach longer, providing extended satisfaction over other food types. This staves off hunger for longer and reduces propensity for snacking. Additionally, the extra chewing required to eat insoluble fibre slows down the process of eating promoting a faster feeling of being full.
A diet made up of low-fat or low-calorie foods that includes a good selection of high fibre foods will make losing weight easier, provide lasting satisfaction, reduce snacking, and help avoid over-eating.
High fibre always seems to be associated with bran flakes and wholemeal bread but there are in fact a whole range of different foods that are fibre rich. It is quite easy to work out whether or not the fibre content is high with some examples – if you are eating the outer of any plant you are in all probability ingesting good insoluble fibre.
• Wholemeal bread
• Brown rice
• Whole wheat pasta
• Baked potato