It's so important to talk about getting enough soluble fiber in your diet. While all fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes contain some soluble fiber, certain foods are packed with it. As a registered dietitian (RD), I'm constantly bringing this topic up with clients. Few know that soluble fiber is essential for healthy digestion. Fewer know that it can also help you lose weight!
What Is Soluble Fiber?
Soluble fiber is a form of dietary fiber that dissolves in water. If you've ever heard of psyllium husk, then you know of a soluble fiber.
As it dissolves in your body after consumption, it turns into a gel that helps to slow digestion. That's one of the reasons why foods that are high in soluble fiber help you to feel full longer. In addition, soluble fiber also helps to stabilize blood glucose control to reduce your diabetes risk. Soluble fiber has also been linked with reducing blood cholesterol, improving heart health, and helping with weight loss.
How Can Soluble Fiber Help You Lose Weight?
The reason why soluble fiber helps you lose weight is pretty straightforward. When soluble fiber absorbs water during digestion, it forms a gel within the gut that slows down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. Lowering your blood sugar levels also means lowering your insulin levels. When your insulin levels are in check, your body doesn't go into fat-storage mode. That means you'll burn off what you eat instead of storing it!
One study found that increasing dietary fiber significantly reduces the risk of gaining weight and fat in women without even taking into account physical activity, dietary fat intake, and other factors.
Soluble fiber is different from insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is a type of fiber that bulks up stool to help food pass more quickly through the digestive system. While we need both types of fiber for various health and weight-loss benefits, I'll only be focusing on soluble fiber in this blog post.
Getting enough fiber per day in your diet is easy. Most of us don't do it simply because we don't know about the common foods that have high amounts of soluble fiber. I'm going to share the 10 best foods you can start eating right now to get more soluble fiber in your diet. These are all fresh, delicious foods that you can find in your local grocery store.
Top 10 Soluble Fiber Foods for Weight Loss
These are the 10 foods I recommend to my clients in my work as an RD when they are looking for natural foods for weight loss. The high levels of soluble fiber in these foods can help to get your body from fat-storage mode to fat-burning mode. What's more, all of these foods are satisfying, nutritious, and necessary for a balanced diet.
This is the top breakfast item I recommend to clients looking for foods with high levels of soluble fiber you can eat in the morning.
A randomized control trial looking at the short-term and long-term effects of whole-grain oat intake on weight management and glucolipid metabolism in overweight type-2 diabetics found evidence to support the claim that oats can be a good selection of whole grains for overweight diabetics. The study also found that oat intake had a lipid-lowering effect. Excess amounts of lipids can cause fat deposits in the artery walls.
Another study found that consumption of oat reduced obesity and abdominal fat. As a dietitian, I also know about an added benefit of having oats. Oats can keep you feeling full all morning long without the blood-sugar crash that often happens when you don't have food containing soluble fiber in your breakfast. That crash can send you looking for the nearest snack to feel stable again.
#2. Black Beans
Black beans are full of protein and fiber. That's why they are so great for keeping you feeling full and energized. While I believe that animal-based protein can certainly be part of a healthy diet, I love that black beans provide similar protein levels to meat without any of the fat or oils.
A 2020 study that looked specifically at how bean consumption accounts for differences in body fat and waist circumference found that people who eat lots of beans have less abdominal obesity than their counterparts.
In addition to being rich in soluble fiber, lentils are also full of compounds called polyphenols. In studies, polyphenols have been shown to interfere with a major enzyme that causes the body to store fat. Researchers believe that eating foods with polyphenols can boost metabolic function to allow the body to burn more fat. One study found that polyphenols may actually interact with bacteria in the intestines to support weight loss.
Your mother wasn't kidding when she told you to eat your broccoli if you wanted to grow up to be big and strong. However, what she didn't tell you was that broccoli could also help you to stay fit and lean as an adult.
Broccoli provides beautiful roughage that aids in healthy digestion. In a 2021 study involving mice, researchers found that supplementing with broccoli microgreens significantly reduced white adipose tissues (WAT) mass, body weight, and adipocyte (fat cell) size.
Figs offer a perfect mix of being meaty, low in calories, and high in fiber. I count figs among the most “filling” fruits. They are great for having a sweet treat that also lets soluble fiber get to work in your digestive system to help you lose weight. The high concentration of calcium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, and magnesium found in figs may help to boost the metabolism. While there aren't any studies on figs and weight loss, people around the world have relied on soaked figs as natural weight-loss supplements for generations.
Flaxseed is a wonder food! Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are known to reduce inflammation, balance the metabolism, and improve cognitive function. Flaxseed also provides a great low-calorie protein source. An analysis of 28 studies investigating the link between flaxseed and body weight found that flaxseed consumption resulted in a reduction in body weight when compared to placebo. Flaxseed also created decreases in both BMI and waist circumference compared to placebo.
Throwing some high-protein, high-fiber chickpeas into a salad is a fast way to feel full and satisfied. One study found that people who regularly ate chickpeas were 53% more likely to have a lower BMI than those who didn't. Chickpea-eaters also had lower waist circumferences. In another study, researchers found that eating chickpeas daily increased weight loss by 25%!
#8. Lima Beans
The hearty lima bean is a low-glycemic-index food with tons of protein. Like all beans and legumes, lima beans have been found to provide weight-loss benefits. What's more, the lima bean is one of the rare foods shown to lead to modest weight loss without accompanying calorie-restricted diets.
#9. Chia Seeds
Chia-seeds provide excellent plant-based protein. They are full of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. According to a 2015 study, overweight and obese people who consumed 35 grams of chia seed flour a day for 12 weeks lost weight, reduced waist circumference, and improved cholesterol levels. Using chia seeds is easy. I often tell my clients to sprinkle them on Greek yogurt.
It's a shame that many people shy away from avocados because they think that they are “fattening.” While avocados do have a high fat content, this “butter fruit” is actually full of healthy fats and oils that provide vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B6, riboflavin, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, and beta carotene.
A study released in 2021 found that women who consumed avocado as part of their daily meals had a reduction in deeper visceral abdominal fat. Another study that looked at 29,000 adults who ate slightly more than half of a medium avocado daily found that people who eat avocadoes are 33% less likely to be overweight or obese. Those same people are 32% less likely to have an elevated waist circumference when compared to people who don't eat avocados.
Adding a little bit of soluble fiber to your diet goes a long way! Soluble fiber isn't just exciting because it can help you to shed fat. Eating foods that are high in soluble fiber can actually make your daily life more enjoyable by keeping you full and satisfied for longer instead of constantly roving for snacks.
Take Home Tips by the RD
I want you to start adding all of these foods to your weekly diet roundup. You will be amazed by how energetic and “light” you feel. While most of the research out there shows that you don't even need to make alterations to your diet in order to enjoy the benefits of soluble fiber, I recommend using the foods on the list above to replace some of the refined foods you've currently been eating to feel full. This is the best strategy for seeing dramatic weight loss with help from slimming, nourishing soluble fiber.