One of the main complaints among women in perimenopause and menopause is unwanted weight gain. Attempts to lose weight while in perimenopause and menopause can be challenging as hormone levels fluctuate and menopausal symptoms such as food cravings, mood swings, and anxiety can contribute to additional pounds.
Techniques to lose weight abound, but many of them can be complicated, tedious, tasteless, boring, or difficult to include in your lifestyle or follow for more than a few weeks.
Including more fiber in your diet is none of these things, and it can assist you in dropping excess pounds while also providing many other health benefits. Here, however, we will focus on the weight loss advantages of fiber.
Types of fiber
First of all, fiber is a term that describes carbohydrates that your gut cannot digest. Two main types of fiber can be found together in many foods: soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (does not dissolve). The former type passes through the digestive system virtually unchanged until it reaches the bacteria in your large intestine. The fiber that helps your gut bacteria is called prebiotic fiber, and it helps with body weight, as the microorganisms digest the fiber and transform it into energy. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stools and makes it easier for them to pass out of the body.
Soluble fiber also has a special quality: it thickens in water and forms a gel-like substance. This quality is known as viscosity. The more viscous a fiber is, the better it is at reducing appetite. Viscous soluble fibers include beta-glucans, glucomannan, guar fiber, pectins, and psyllium.
The gel increases the time it takes for your stomach to empty after eating, which in turn increases digestion time and the length of time it takes for nutrients to be absorbed. These actions result in a reduction in appetite and feeling fuller, longer. Viscous fiber also helps regulate blood glucose levels, which can reduce your cravings for sugary foods. Perhaps you can say goodbye to sugar cravings!
Studies of fiber and weight loss and maintenance
Numerous studies have looked at the impact of including more fiber in the diet as a way to achieve weight loss. For example:
- A clinical trial compared the impact of a diet that focused on increased fiber consumption with the American Heart Association (AHA) dietary guidelines in 240 adults with metabolic syndrome. The authors were primarily interested in how much weight was gained, lost, or maintained after 12 months. Although those who followed the AHA diet lost slightly more weight, the authors noted that “a simplified approach to weight reduction emphasizing only increased fiber intake may be a reasonable alternative for persons with difficulty adhering to more complicated diet regimens.”
- One study looked at the impact of oats on feelings of satiety and reducing appetite. The authors reported they had evidence that the beta-glucans in oats have “a positive effect on perceptions of satiety.”
- The diets of 345 obese adults were evaluated for six months. Results of the Journal of Nutrition article showed a clear relationship between increased intake of dietary fiber and weight loss.
- More than 3,400 adults at high risk for diabetes participated in a Diabetes Prevention Program clinical trial that looked at the association between diet and weight and specific dietary factors that predicted weight loss. Dietary intake was evaluated for all participants. Weight loss after one year was associated with an increase in high-fiber carbohydrates and reductions in total fat and saturated fat.
Increase fiber intake
If you want to include more fiber in your diet, do it gradually so your body can adjust to the change. If you add too much fiber too quickly, you may experience cramps, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea. The suggested amount of fiber for women in perimenopause and menopause is 30 to 35 grams daily.
Foods with viscous fibers are all plant-based. The richest sources include apricots, apples, asparagus, beans and legumes, Brussels sprouts, flaxseeds, lentils, oats, and sweet potatoes. If your diet doesn't provide enough fiber daily, reach for a supplement like Fiberus.
Struggling with unwanted weight gain in menopause? A little help from some delicious sources of fiber may be beneficial. Include fiber-rich foods in your meals every day for the best results. Supplements can fill in the gaps.