By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., May/June 2009
The average American adult gains one to two pounds each year, according to various reports. But new research in The Journal of Nutrition suggests a way to prevent this weight gain or even encourage weight loss—without dieting. The secret: eat more fiber. Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah followed the eating habits of 252 middle-aged women for nearly two years and found that those who increased their fiber intake generally lost weight. Women who decreased the fiber in their diets gained.
The scientists boiled the findings into a single weight-loss formula: boosting fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories consumed resulted in losing about 4½ pounds over the course of the study. And this held true whether a woman was eating 3 or 25 grams of fiber a day at the start of the study. While it helps you feel full, “fiber has no calories,” says Larry Tucker, Ph.D., lead researcher and professor in the Department of Exercise Sciences at Brigham Young. So if you fill up on high-fiber foods you crowd out less-healthy foods, explains Tucker.
Try it for yourself. If you’re consuming 2,000 calories per day, aim to increase your fiber by 16 grams. Here are four foods that will help you get your fill.
Raspberries: 1 cup = 8 grams
Chickpeas: 3⁄4 cup = 8 grams
Strawberries: 1 cup = 3 grams
Green Beans: 1 cup = 4 grams