How can a high-fiber diet help me lose weight?

Dr. Andrea Pennington, MD
Integrative Medicine
Increasing your fiber consumption is a simple way to promote weight loss. High fiber foods make us feel full longer and only provide 4 calories per gram. The following are great sources of fiber: Insoluble fiber: wheat bran, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and fruit and vegetable peels. Soluble fiber: dried beans, oat bran, barley, apples, citrus fruits, and potatoes. Fiber is also a natural fat-blocker. Because insoluble fiber cannot be digested it acts like a sponge to absorb some of the fat in your diet which prevents it from being taken into the bloodstream. It is recommended to get your total dietary fiber intake to 25 to 30 grams per day from natural fiber-rich foods. Fiber supplements may still be of overall benefit for those who suffer from constipation, but consuming whole foods rich in fiber and drinking 8 glasses of water each day can greatly improve digestive function, too.
Marilyn Ricci, M.S., R.D.
Nutrition & Dietetics
Fiber is non digestible. Therefore, it adds bulk to the diet giving you a sensation of fullness. Also, it takes longer to eat high fiber foods than non fiber foods. Compare eating and apple to eating a fastfood burger. The apple has fiber, few calories, and takes a while to eat. The burger has lots of calories and can be wolfed down in minutes. Increasing the amount of fiber from whole grains, vegetables and fruits in your diet is a very healthy way to lose weight.
Susan Mitchell, PhD
Nutrition & Dietetics
A high-fiber diet can help you lose weight because high fiber foods are filling. They help you feel satisfied longer so that you are less hungry. High fiber foods include whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts, fruit and vegetables.
Dawn Marcus
You’ve all seen the commercials on TV challenging you to add cereal to your diet to help you lose weight. A new study proved that extra fiber from cereals does indeed help you lose weight, including that pesky belly fat!

In this study, nearly 90,000 healthy Europeans were monitored for an average of six and a half years. Those having diets higher in fiber were more likely to lose weight and lower their waist measurement. Interestingly, fiber from cereals was associated with greater weight loss than fiber from eating fruits and vegetables!

For every 10 gram per day increase in fiber intake from cereal, there was an average weight loss of 77 grams per year (that’s about a quarter of a pound). And waist measurement decreased by one-tenth of a centimeter each year.

One serving (a cup) of Raisin Bran, for example, gives you 7 grams of fiber.

So eating cereal isn’t going to quickly make you skinny. But when you’re choosing calories to add to your diet, remember that cereals are a good choice to add important fibers and help promote weight loss.

So, like the commercials say, you need to add cereal to a good weight loss program -- cereal alone can’t be the weight loss program!
Annette Duncan
Nutrition & Dietetics

Fiber takes longer to digest which helps to stabilize blood sugars after eating. Our bodies are triggered to eat or feel hungry when our blood sugars begin to fall, so eating a high fiber diet that helps to maintain stable blood sugars for longer will help you to eat less in the long run. It also helps you to feel full sooner and stay full longer causing you to eat less overall - whether it is at the meal or snacking after the meal.

Alberta Scruggs
Nutrition & Dietetics

A "high-fiber" diet can assist weight loss because fiber has no kcalories or fat. Secondly, fiber provides a feeling of "fullness" when a sufficient amount is eaten.

Dietary fiber is found in plant foods and is considered soluble or insoluble.

  • Soluble:  Having the ability to be dissolved in water.  This type of fiber binds to bile salts (substances in the intestine), and moves them out the body.  It also has the capability to maintain blood sugar levels (Which limits risks of increased blood sugar "spikes" or "dips", that might result in increased desire to eat).
  • Insoluble:  Inability of being dissolved in water.  This type of fiber moves "stuff" like waste and toxins through the intestine and out of the body.  It helps to reduce risks of constipation, hemorrhoids and certain cancers.

Plant foods generally contain both, with more insoluble fiber than insoluble.  Examples include barley, broccoli, Brown rice, carrots, corn, lettuce, spinach and wheat bran.  Examples of foods that have more soluble fiber include oat bran, barley, kidney beans and black-eyed peas.

Jim White
Nutrition & Dietetics

A high fiber diet can help with weight loss in many ways. High fiber, water rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, broth based vegetable soups and salads make you feel full which helps to control the amount of food you eat. Foods high in fiber can also take longer to chew, giving you time to feel the "full-feeling" of the meal. These foods are also generally low in calories allowing you to eat a lot them. They also contain important vitamins, and anti-oxidants. Some other low calorie high fiber foods that can be added to the diet are beans, whole grains, high-fiber cereal, and nuts.

The recommended daily fiber intake for women is 25 grams a day, and 30 grams for men. Slowly adding fiber to the diet can help to avoid bloating and gas, it is also important to drink plenty of water while increasing your fiber intake.

Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
A high fiber diet provides a feeling of fullness and volume to reduce calorie consumption and promote weight loss. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and supplements.
Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics
Fiber is a source of dietary carbohydrates that is a very important nutrient when trying to lose weight. Foods that are good-excellent sources of fiber include 100% whole wheat products, fruits, and vegetables. When we consume these foods that are higher in fiber they sit around longer in our stomach stimulating a feeling of fullness for the body to avoid over-eating. The recommended fiber intake for males and females is between 20-35 grams per day. The average American usually gets between 7-9 grams of fiber per day. So it's important to include fiber with all your meals if you are trying to lose weight. Some examples are fresh fruit with skins (apples, pears), 100% whole wheat bread, beans (pinto, kidney, navy), lentils, and nuts. If you are unsure if something has fiber in it simply check the food label for total grams of fiber in the item. It is listed right under the total carbohydrates on the food label. Remember to make sure to drink plenty of fluids as well to keep your digestive system in balance too when increasing your fiber intake.
Tanya Zuckerbrot
Nutrition & Dietetics
Fiber is the zero-calorie, non-digestible part of a carbohydrate. The more fiber a food has, the more full you will feel after eating, leading you to consume less throughout the day. In addition, fiber has zero calories -- so you get to fill up without filling out. 
Dr. Rovenia Brock, PhD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Adding pounds to your frame, no matter what size, adds years to your looks and, worse yet, subtracts years from your life. The good news is that you can consume 30% fewer calories by adding just 14 grams of fiber a day to your diet. Eat more colorful fresh fruits and veggies, and try these high-fiber grains:

  • Shiritaki noodles are super-tasty and made from the Japanese konjack root. They contain the highest form of soluble fiber of any food and keep you full longer, so you eat fewer calories; the soluble fiber also protects your heart. Find them at Asian food markets and health food stores.
  • Cellophane noodles (glass noodles) are translucent and gluten-free. These noodles are chock-full of selenium, a mineral that keeps anxiety at bay (so no frown lines), and boost your mood due to their folic acid content. Try them in soups, stir-fry dishes, and salads.
  • Kelp noodles, which naturally detoxify the body due to their alginic acid, remove toxic metals. As an added benefit, they boost your metabolism. Kelp is also high in the mineral iodine, which boosts energy.
Increasing dietary soluble fiber can help you cut dangerous fat located deep in your belly, say researchers. In a study published in the journal Obesity, subjects were able to cut metabolically nasty visceral fat located in the stomach region and wrapped around vital organs by ingesting more soluble fiber from vegetables, fruits, and beans.

Start making fiber a big part of your diet. Try to ingest at least 35 grams a day. 
Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

A diet high in fiber tends to be more filling. Fiber can’t be digested, as humans we lack the enzymes necessary to break down fiber in the digestive tract. Because of this a meal high in fiber digests slower, and therefore keeps you full longer. Another advantage to a high fiber diet is called thermogenesis. It is the creation of heat. Basically, it takes a lot of energy for your body to move all this indigestible material through your digestive tract. Over time this helps to keep your metabolism high, which helps keep your weight low.

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
High fiber diets keep you full. They also help bind fat in the intestinal tract which leads to lower amounts of calories absorbed. Fiber keeps your blood sugar stable and leads to less refined sugar cravings.

Continue Learning about Nutrition and Weight Loss

Eat On-The-Go Without Getting Fat
Eat On-The-Go Without Getting Fat
In the midst of traveling, your thoughts are typically set on the destination ahead—not on the food you’ll eat along the way. Unfortunately, when hung...
Read More
Do we have toxic water in our bodies that prevent weight loss?
The short answer is NO. When our calorie intake consistently exceeds or matches our calorie burn, we...
More Answers
8 Easy Cooking Hacks for Weight Loss
8 Easy Cooking Hacks for Weight Loss8 Easy Cooking Hacks for Weight Loss8 Easy Cooking Hacks for Weight Loss8 Easy Cooking Hacks for Weight Loss
Lose weight (without sacrificing flavor) with these simple food swaps.
Start Slideshow
What's Wrong With the American Healthcare System Today?
What's Wrong With the American Healthcare System Today?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.