Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Fiber 35 Diet: Nature's Weight Loss Secret

I know, we often look for things that confirm our own perspectives, and I'm no different.

I have always emphasized "more vegetables" and "more fiber" and not dieting per se. Instead of working on limiting things, I like to think about increasing intake of healthy items (what we need more of).

The Fiber 35 Diet, by Brenda Watson, has some of the hype phrases like "the revolutionary way to lose weight" and "the miracle ingredient" but I'll forgivingly chalk that up to editorial investments in creating a best seller. I actually like this diet book (and most, I wouldn't use for more than kindling!).

Watson writes in her opening chapter on dieting and fiber:

"the difference between those who succeed and those who don't boils down to those who can control their appetite and those who cannot...This is where the power of fiber begins. Fiber will help you control your appetite in a natural way that is almost magical. It's as close to a magic pill as you're going to get, and it does a whole lot more than suppress your appetite."

Watson goes on to extol the following virtues of fiber.

First, fiber curbs your appetite, thus helping you reduce intake. In essence, fiber "turns on your antihunger hormone" otherwise known as cholecystokinin, which is the messenger in your small intestine that signals fullness. So, it's not just the bulking activity of fiber that helps you feel full, fiber also supports the biochemistry side of feeling full.

Second, fiber helps reduce absorption of calories from the food you eat, what Watson calls the "fiber flush effect." Who knew that consumption of 36-50 grams of fiber per day "leaves 130 calories unused in the stool?!"

I think I've heard that a mere 50 extra calories a day packs on an extra 10 pounds a year, so this "fecal energy excretion" from fiber intake seems far from insignificant (Watson argues that you can lose up to 26 pounds a year through this fiber flush effect).

Third, fiber-rich foods are considered low-energy-density foods. Well, duh, carrots and celery obviously fall into this category. High in water, low in fat, low in calories. Yeah, yeah, we all know this one, but consider it rather, um, unfulfilling, at times.

Finally, Watson describes how fiber slows down your body's conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, thus supporting blood sugar stability. Without wild blood sugar swings, you can more easily stay on a diet and even reverse problems with insulin resistance.

I liked Watson's section on toxins and obesity (Dr. Rodier often talks about the link between toxins and obesity), which makes the case for toxins slowing down your metabolism. When toxins are released into your blood, your resting rate of metabolism drops, which works against weight loss. Watson reviews the seven channels of detoxification (lungs, liver, colon, kidneys, skin, blood, and lymph) and emphasizes the role of saunas and exercising (sweating) as well as cleansing (diet, herbs, supplements).

The book is easy to read, well organized, with handy references and facts about fiber, including:

  • Amaranth packs a whopping 17.2 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup compared to brown rice with only 4 grams.
  • One medicum banana trumps three apricots in fiber (4 grams compared to 2.5 grams).
  • Acorn squash yields 4.5 grams for every 1/2 cup compared to spinach with 2 grams.
  • Red beans top the legumes list with 9 grams per 1/2 cup compared to 4 grams for green peas and only 2 grams for green beans.

Meanwhile, true tales from my kitchen counter? I keep experimenting with various fibers in my morning shakes (acacia gum, guar gum, apple pectin) as I don't really do so well with psyllium or wheat bran.

This morning, I opted for eggs instead of a shake, but felt guilty, so stirred some apple fiber with guar gum in a little bit of rice milk ("little bit" is the operative phrase). Quickly, I had a gummy paste, which I gamely spooned out and ate without a whole lot of enthusiasm, much to Steve's chagrin.

Finally, Steve couldn't stand it and took the remainder away, rinsing my cup and shaking his head. I had to laugh. Some experiments just shouldn't be witnessed!

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