Belly fat is extremely unhealthy. In fact, it increases your risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
Fortunately, we can get rid of belly fat, and recent research shows that higher fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of belly fat. But interestingly, it seems to include only one type of fiber – soluble fiber.
Psyllium soluble fiber can help you lose belly fat
Fiber is often divided into two categories – insoluble and soluble fiber. They differ in how they interact with the water in your body.
Insoluble fiber does not mix with water and mostly acts as bulking material to help form stool and move it through the bowel. It helps with constipation.
Soluble fiber like beta-glucan and glucomannan mix with water to form a gooey gel-like substance that slows down how quickly the stomach releases digested food into the intestine. Eating more soluble fiber can also help you lose belly fat and prevent it from re-gaining. One study linked increasing daily soluble fiber intake by 10 grams with a 3.7% lower risk of gaining belly fat. Several other studies also show that people who eat more soluble fiber have a lower risk of developing belly fat. In fact, soluble fiber can help reduce belly fat in a variety of ways.
Soluble fiber encourages a diversity of gut bacteria, which is associated with less belly fat
There are over 100 trillion beneficial bacteria living in your gut. Unlike other bacteria, these bacteria are harmless and share a mutually beneficial relationship with humans. Humans provide the bacteria with a home and nutrients, while the bacteria help take care of processes like vitamin production and waste processing.
There are many different types of bacteria, and a greater diversity of bacteria is associated with a lower risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and heart disease, to name a few.
And while it’s not clear why, many studies show that people who consume more soluble fiber have greater bacterial diversity and better health outcomes. To top it off, a recent study showed that people with a greater range of gut bacteria have a lower risk of gaining belly fat. While all of these studies are promising, more research still needs to be done.
How beneficial gut bacteria can reduce belly fat
Because your body can’t digest fiber on its own, it enters your gut essentially unchanged. Once there, specific enzymes in the gut bacteria can digest the soluble fiber. This is one important way that gut bacteria support optimal health. Meanwhile, soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic, providing nutrients to the bacteria.
This process of digesting and breaking down soluble fiber is called fermentation. It produces short-chain fatty acids, a type of fat that can reduce belly fat. One way in which short-chain fatty acids can regulate your fat metabolism is by increasing the rate at which fat is burned or decreasing the rate at which fat is stored, although how this works is not fully understood. Many studies show a link between higher levels of short-chain fatty acids and a lower risk of belly fat.
Soluble fiber helps reduce appetite
One way to lose belly fat is to lose weight. And soluble fiber is a powerful appetite suppressant, it can help you with that. When you suppress your appetite, your calorie intake is more likely to decrease, helping you lose weight.
There are several theories about how soluble fiber can help reduce appetite. First, soluble fiber helps regulate hormones involved in appetite control.
Some studies have found that consuming soluble fiber reduces levels of hunger hormones produced by the body, including ghrelin. Others have shown that soluble fiber increases the production of hormones that make you feel full, such as cholecystokinin, GLP-1, and peptide YY.
The second theory is that fiber can reduce appetite by slowing down the movement of food through the gut. When nutrients like glucose are slowly released into the gut, your body releases insulin at a slower rate. This is associated with a reduced feeling of hunger.
Soluble fiber and its sources
Soluble fiber is very easy to include in your diet and you can find it in many plant foods. Foods that contain high amounts of soluble fiber are flax seeds, sweet potatoes, fruits such as apricots and oranges, Brussels sprouts, legumes and grains such as oatmeal.
However, even though soluble fiber can help you lose belly fat, it’s not a very good idea to start consuming too much soluble fiber out of nowhere. It can cause side effects such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea and bloating. It is best to increase your fiber intake slowly over time so that your body can bluntly built up a tolerance.
As for the daily recommended intake, the US Department of Agriculture recommends that men consume 30-38 grams of fiber per day, while women should consume 21-25 grams per day.
Can fiber supplements help reduce belly fat?
Eating fresh foods is the best way to increase your intake of soluble fiber. But if that’s not very realistic for you, taking a supplemental form of soluble fiber could be an option for you.
Several types are available, including psyllium, glucomannan, and inulin, and there is some evidence that they can help lose belly fat.
Inulin is another type of soluble fiber. Although not very thick and sticky it has been linked to shedding belly fat. One 18-week study in people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes gave participants either an inulin or cellulose (insoluble fiber) supplement. Both groups received nutritional advice for the first 9 weeks and followed a fat-loss diet. Both groups lost weight, but the inulin group lost significantly more abdominal fat, total body fat, and total weight. They also ate less food than the cellulose group.
Taking fiber supplements appears to be an effective strategy for shedding belly fat, although more research still needs to be done.
Eating foods rich in soluble fiber can help you lose belly fat. Soluble fiber helps keep your gut bacteria healthy and promotes overall fat burning by reducing your appetite. To help burn belly fat even more, combine your soluble fiber intake with other lifestyle changes like eating healthier foods and exercising more often.
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