You gotta love fiber. Not only does it keep your GI system running smoothly and your heart healthy, it also can keep you from outgrowing your pants. Yes, fiber is a well-known natural slimming aid. While it helps you feel full, fiber has no calories. So if you fill up on high-fiber foods you crowd out less-healthy foods, Larry Tucker, Ph.D., of Brigham Young University, told EatingWell. The recommended daily value for fiber is 25 grams of fiber per day. Of course, this is one nutrient for which more (from whole foods) is better.
No need to slam back fiber-supplement drinks to get more. Instead, boost your intake by making simple trades that, at the end of the day, really add up. (Check out these Fiber-Rich Dinners to Help You Lose Weight.) Here are five swaps that will boost your daily fiber intake by 20 grams.
—Nicci Micco, M.S., Content Director
Instead of: A cup of orange juice (112 calories, 0.5 g fiber)
Choose this: A large orange (86 calories, 4 g fiber)
You gain: 3-plus grams of fiber
Bonus: Eating whole fruits requires you to chew (gulping down juice doesn’t)—and this also helps you feel full.
Recipe to Try: Grab & Go High-Fiber Breakfast Recipes
Instead of: A medium banana (105 calories, 3 g fiber)
Choose this: 1 cup of raspberries (64 calories, 8 g fiber)
You gain: 5 grams of fiber
Bonus: Raspberries contain ellagic acid, a compound with anticancer properties. What other health boons do berries have? Find out here.
Instead of: A side of rice (121 calories, 0.3 g fiber per 1/2 cup)
Choose this: A side of black beans (114 calories, 7.5 g fiber per 1/2 cup)
You gain: 7 grams of fiber
Bonus: Beans also provide protein, another nutrient that’s been shown to be particularly satisfying. (Discover 5 diet tricks to keep you feeling satisfied.)
Instead of: 1 oz. of pretzels (110 calories, 1 g fiber)
Choose this: 12 baby carrots plus 2 tablespoons of hummus (89 calories, 4 g fiber)
You gain: 3 grams of fiber
Bonus: Beta carotene, the pigment that makes carrots orange, is a powerful antioxidant and a precursor to the active form of vitamin A, a nutrient that helps keep your immune system healthy. Find 6 secrets to boosting your immunity naturally.)
Instead of: White pasta with red sauce (212 calories, 2 g fiber)
Choose this: Whole-wheat pasta topped with 1/2 cup mixed veggies and sauce (174 calories, 4 g fiber per cup)
You gain: 2 grams of fiber
Bonus: Trace minerals—such as magnesium, a nutrient needed for a healthy metabolism—that are removed when grains are refined. Speaking of burning calories, here are easy ways to boost your metabolism.