Choosing the Best Fiber Foods for Weight Loss

Fiber-rich vegetables

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

You may have heard of the benefits of fiber for weight loss. Eating plenty of fiber can help you feel full for longer, reducing the urge to eat as often and helping you stay satisfied with your meals. There are two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and both offer important health benefits that go far beyond weight loss.

Learn more about the different sources of fiber, how they can help you with your balanced weight goals, and the additional benefits of a high fiber diet.

Different Sources of Fiber

Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate found as a component in plant foods. Human digestive systems don't have the enzyme necessary to break down all the fiber you eat, so it passes through your system without getting fully digested.

Dietary fiber occurs naturally in different foods, like beans and whole grains. Functional fiber, on the other hand, is added to food during manufacturing, or you can take it as a supplement. Both dietary and functional fiber can be either soluble or insoluble.

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. You may have noticed that oatmeal becomes gummy after sitting out. That's because oatmeal contains soluble fiber. After a while, soluble fiber soaks up water and forms a gel. Soluble fiber may also be called high-viscosity fiber. You'll find soluble fiber in many citrus fruits, barley, chia seeds, and legumes.

Soluble fiber slows down stomach emptying, making you feel full for longer, and also helps slow the rate at which sugar is released into your bloodstream, sustaining a steady energy level after eating—all great things when it comes to eating to lose weight.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber is also called low-viscosity fiber. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, and our bodies don't digest it. It passes through our digestive system intact, and the calories in it don't get absorbed. Foods that contain insoluble fiber include whole grains, bran, and many vegetables. 

If you're trying to lose weight, these foods add bulk to your diet and fill your belly (and your plate!) without adding extra calories to your meal. People who eat enough insoluble fiber may also benefit from improved regularity and less constipation.

The Best Fiber Foods for Weight Loss

Both types of fiber offer health benefits and can make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Choose a variety of fiber-rich foods to get the suitable fiber daily.

As with any healthy eating plan, it's important to look at the overall nutritional profile of your food choices, rather than just focusing on individual nutrients when trying to lose weight.

Foods that are excellent for overall nutrition and weight loss and are high in fiber include berries, whole grains, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Choosing high-fiber foods that are also filling and lower in calories is an excellent strategy for obtaining and maintaining a balanced weight.

Try adding flaxseeds or chia seeds, nuts, and berries to your morning oatmeal, cereal, or smoothie. Boost your lunch with whole-grain bread or tortillas, out-of-hand fruit like apples or pears, or try adding leftover cooked whole grains to your usual salad or soup. At dinner, add a side of brown rice, quinoa, and beans along with a healthy serving of vegetables.

Benefits of Fiber

Beyond potential weight loss benefits, fiber contributes to a healthy, balanced diet and boosts health outcomes in several ways.

Fiber helps to balance cholesterol and triglyceride levels, contributing to heart health. This includes a protective effect against heart disease. It also reduces your risks of certain cancer, especially colon cancer.

Since fiber helps to regulate blood sugars by slowing down digestion, it also contributes to preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. Fiber can prevent ulcers, particularly those that occur in the small intestine. In fact, fiber boosts gut health in general by increasing the amount of food available for gut bacteria that work to keep your immune system active, improve digestion, and so much more.

A Word From Verywell

The best fiber foods for weight loss are unprocessed and naturally low in sugar. These foods include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Choosing high-fiber foods allows you to eat a larger volume of food to manage hunger, promote regular digestion, and control cravings while still eating to lose or maintain weight.

Remember that weight loss isn't an appropriate goal for everyone and losing weight doesn't equate to a healthier lifestyle unless your overall habits are physically and mentally sound. Speak to your doctor about your weight loss concerns, goals, and plans.

9 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading
  • Dietary FiberMedlinePlus. March 2015.

  • FiberMedlinePlus. October 2019.

  • Natalie Dilate Muth, M.D., M.P.H., R.D. Basic Nutrition, and Digestion. American Council on Exercise Health Coach Manual. 2013.

By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.