Choosing the Best Fiber Foods for Weight Loss

Whole-grain bread, pasta and crackers next to a prescription slip reading "whole grains"

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Do you know how to manage hunger when you're trying to lose weight? 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. There are two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and both offer important health benefits. Those trying to lose weight may be wondering, does soluble or insoluble fiber fill you up?

Different Sources of Fiber

Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate found as a component in plant foods. Our bodies don't have the enzyme necessary to break down all the fiber we eat, which means that it passes through our 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 it can be taken in the form of a supplement. Both dietary and functional fiber can be either soluble or insoluble.

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Have you ever noticed that oatmeal becomes gummy after sitting out for a while? 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.

Should you eat more soluble fiber for weight loss? Soluble fiber slows down stomach emptying, making you feel full for longer and also helps to 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 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. Insoluble fiber is also called low-viscosity fiber. Foods that contain insoluble fiber include whole grains, bran, and many vegetables. 

So, why eat insoluble fiber? 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 foods from both groups in order to get the right amount of fiber each day. Keep in mind that some foods with fiber also contain a lot of calories and sugar.

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.

Granola, for example, is high in fiber but may also have a lot of added sugar and saturated or trans fats. Whole-grain cereal is another fiber-rich food that may contain preservatives and a surprising amount of sugar. While a single serving of cereal can be a healthy breakfast choice, it's one of the most popular foods we overeat.

A Word From Verywell

The best fiber foods for weight loss are those that 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 sugar cravings while still eating to lose or maintain weight.

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  • 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.