If you’ve tried but failed to lose weight, don’t blame your metabolism alone; your body can adjust it, based on your calorie intake. To lose weight effectively, you must consume fewer calories while increasing physical activity. One key can be eating more high-fiber foods, which provide fewer calories for the same volume as higher-calorie items.
Dietary fiber is not digestible, but it still provides benefits as it passes through your system. Susan Irby, author of “Boost Your Metabolism Cookbook: Fire up Your Diet for a Fit and Firm You,” notes that fiber enhances the efficiency with which your body processes food. Besides relieving constipation, fiber helps lower your risks of heart disease and diabetes. There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble, which dissolves in water, and insoluble, which does not. Incorporate both types of fiber into your diet for a range of health benefits.
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts food into energy. Even at rest, your body needs energy to perform key functions, such as circulating blood, breathing and adjusting hormone levels. The number of calories your body uses to run these functions is called basal metabolic rate, or BMR. Your BMR accounts for 60 to 75 percent of your total daily calorie needs, notes MayoClinic.com. Factors that determine BMR include age, gender, body size and composition. Food processing and physical activity also contribute to how many calories you burn.
Effect of Fiber on Metabolism
Soluble fiber can help reduce blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Your body needs some cholesterol to produce bile acids that aid digestion of fats. When soluble fiber cruises through your small intestine, it binds to bile and blocks the absorption of excess cholesterol and ushers it out of your body. In addition, it slows down absorption of carbohydrates and keeps blood sugar levels steady. Insoluble fiber helps move material through your digestive system and boosts stool volume. High-fiber foods often require more time to chew and keep you feeling full longer.
Fiber Sources and Recommendations
The recommended daily fiber intake is 38 grams for men, 25 grams for women. Oats, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, psyllium, peas and beans provide soluble fiber. Green beans, cauliflower, potatoes, wheat bran, nuts and whole-wheat flour are good sources of insoluble fiber. Eat a variety of high-fiber foods to get the most benefits. One caution: Adding too much fiber too quickly can cause abdominal bloating, cramping and intestinal gas. Drink plenty of water, too, to help fiber do its work.
- MayoClinic.com: Metabolism and Weight Loss — How You Burn Calories
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fiber– Essential for a Healthy Diet
- Boost Your Metabolism Cookbook: Fire up Your Diet for a Fit and Firm You; Susan Irby
- Texas Heart Institute: Statins, Cholesterol-Lowering Medicines
- 365 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism; Rachel Laferriere
- Bastyr University: Fiber and Weight Loss
- Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images
By Mala Srivastava