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Weight Control with High Fiber Meals

People with normal weights tend to eat more fiber and fruit that overweight adults and those who suffer from obesity.

Now, that fact is being turned around: dietary fiber may help fight obesity, according to a study at the University of Texas at Austin. The finding may prompt development of more high-fiber products catering to those specific people.

"Obviously, no magic formula exists for weight loss, but our results indicated that a diet containing more than average amounts of fiber, complex carbohydrate and fruit was associated with a normal amount of fat the body stores and standard weight for height," wrote lead researcher and nutritionist Jaimie Davis in June's Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Only dietary fiber spelled difference in body fat 

To reach their findings, Davis and her team looked at diets of more than 100 people, half of whom enjoyed normal weights while the other half were either overweight or obese.

The researchers found the diets of the two groups were similar in many ways, including intakes of sugar, bread, dairy products and vegetables. But the people who had normal body weights ate 33 percent more dietary fiber and 43 percent more complex carbohydrates each day.

People in the study who suffered from obesity generally ate diets that were higher in fat and protein, and lower in carbs. They also ate less fruit per day, according to the study.

In essence, dietary fiber was the only nutrient that accounted for a significant difference in body fat between study participants, Davis said.

However, people who had normal weights still fell short of the 32 grams of fiber per day recommended by the U.S. National Fiber Council, but about equal to the average American's intake at 12.5 grams a day.

The results also match findings from an earlier study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that showed high dietary fiber could reduce levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a known marker for inflammation produced in the liver. Increased levels of CRP are good predictors for the onset of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Tips for getting more fiber

Fiber slows the rate that sugar is adsorbed into the bloodstream. When you eat foods high in fiber, such as beans and whole grains, the sugar in those foods is absorbed slower, which keeps your blood glucose levels from rising too fast and then falling rapidly, causing you to be hungry soon after eating and run the risk of overeating.

Fiber also makes you feel fuller, so you eat less.

The recommendations by most diet experts is 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day for adults. When shopping for foods with high fiber, keep an eye out for:

-  Whole grain breads with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, compared to some whole wheat bread that have very little fiber;

-  Cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and made from whole grains, bran and rolled oats;

-  Brown rice, which is brown because it still has the fiber-rich husk, as opposed to fiberless white rice;

-  Beans and legumes, which can go in casseroles, soups, salads, pasta and rice dishes, or eaten plain;

-  Fruits and vegetables, rather than juice, which contains no fiber.


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