A Non-Nutritional Vital Nutrient
Fiber very effectively helps people gain or lose weight. But it works its magic by an especially indirect mechanism.
The mechanism behind weight change is that whenever your body runs low on some nutrient it needs, it triggers hunger (and food cravings, & so forth) to motivate you to go eat food that might get it some more of whatever it needs.
To lose weight when this happens, you must know how to choose foods that have a lot of whatever your body wants more of, but which at the same time give it very few Calories. Then the hunger goes away even while your body continues to burn excess stored fat Calories for fuel.
But how does fiber fit into this scenario? Almost everyone knows that fiber is never even absorbed, so how can it possibly function as a nutrient having this effect?
Obviously, in the ordinary metabolic sense of the term, fiber is not a nutrient at all. But in a much cruder and purely physical way, it still acts as a vital nutrient because it’s a substance – found in food – that your body needs for one of its most vital functions – which is to eliminate some of the waste products of ordinary metabolism.
Therefore, since fiber comes from food and your body needs fiber for an important function, it tends to treat fiber just like any ordinary biochemical nutrient – it triggers hunger and eating whenever it needs more.
Most scientists and nutritionists have accepted that the body needs between 20 and 30 grams of fiber per day for the optimal elimination of waste.
Many people routinely get much less fiber than this. Animal foods have no natural fiber. Highly refined plant foods often have had much of their natural fiber removed.
Since many people eat most of their food from these sources, they may easily be getting much less fiber than their bodies want.
This sets up the standard situation in which their bodies may often be triggering hunger and eating and unnecessary Calorie intake just to get more of the fiber that they need. Naturally, over time this tends to put on those unwanted pounds.
Equally naturally, to reverse the process, you need to take conscious control of your eating choices and push them back in the direction of foods with more fiber and fewer calories.
Fruits and vegetables, except for the very starchy ones like potatoes and rice, generally have the most fiber with the fewest calories. These are your best choices because they also provide the smallish amounts of carbohydrates you need while dieting.
- There are also fiber supplements available that have almost no calories at all.
- Most food packages list the number of grams of fiber per serving so this is an easy factor for dieters to keep track of.
- As we have already discussed, all vital nutrients have the same effect on your weight – each in its special way.