How to Lose that Belly Fat

25 06 2010

When I meet with people who want to lose body fat, there are a few things that I focus on initially.  One of these is getting adequate fiber throughout the day.

A recently published study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Am J Clin Nutr 91: 329-336, 2010) looked at total fiber, cereal fiber, and fruit/vegetable fiber to see if there is a difference in how they affect weight and abdominal fat.  They found that those who ate the most fiber had the least amount of belly fat and weighed less. They also found that cereal fiber was the most effective at preventing abdominal fat gain.

Therefore, when picking a cereal, choose wisely.  One of my general rules for cereal selection is it should have at least 2 grams of fiber and protein for every 100 calories.  (Though, I prefer them to be even higher)

What is fiber? Dietary fibers are structural components of plants. The type and amount of fiber in plants vary from species to species.

How much do we need? A healthy adult should get 10 – 13 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories they eat.  Most women should aim to get a minimum of 20 grams per day and men should aim for 35 grams per day.  Unfortunately, most Americans only consume about 10 grams daily.  To get the appropriate amount of fiber, adults should include the following in their diets:

  • two to three servings of whole grains
  • three pieces of fruits a day
  • two cups of vegetables a day
  • one or two servings of legumes every week

Sources of Fiber

Food Amount Fiber (grams)
Kashi Go Lean Cereal 1 cup 10
Beans, cooked ½ cup 5-8
Peanuts ½ cup 6
Raspberries 1 cup 6
Whole wheat bread, 100% 2 slices 6
Harvest burger 1 burger 5
Apple or Pear 1 fruit 4
Blueberries or Strawberries 1 cup 4
Oats, uncooked ½ cup 4
Sweet potato w/skin, baked 1 potato 4
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 4
Sunflower seeds ¼ cup 4
Broccoli 1 cup 3

Are there side effects to increasing your fiber? Yes. Some people experience gas and bloating.  But you can avoid these side effects by gradually increasing the amount of fiber you eat daily and drinking plenty of water.

Bottom Line: To help lose that belly fat, choose a high-fiber cereal and include fruits and vegetables daily.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.

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