Fiber for Weight Control
Why Do Dieters Use It?*
Some dieters say that fiber helps suppress their appetites.
What Do the Advocates Say?*
Unlike laxatives, fiber can truly help regulate bowel patterns. If you choose to take a fiber supplement, be sure you don't inadvertently purchase a laxative supplement instead. The labels on both types of supplements may say something like "regulates bowel patterns." While the featured ingredient of fiber supplements will likely be an ingredient such as psyllium, the featured ingredient of laxatives tend to be herbal-based. Such supplements are designed only for short-term constipation.
While there is weak evidence that fiber may promote a feeling of fullness, it seems to be necessary to use it in conjunction with a diet and exercise program in order to be effective for contributing to weight loss.
The best way to get fiber is from food. However, if you don't include enough fiber-rich food in your diet and choose to use a fiber supplement instead, choose a product that has different types of fiber in it-both soluble and insoluble. When taking a fiber supplement, be sure to stay well hydrated.
How Much Is Usually Taken by Dieters?
Fiber supplements are one way to add fiber to a weight-loss diet. Several trials have shown that supplementation with fiber from a variety of sources accelerated weight loss in people who were following a low-calorie diet.1, 2, 3, 4 Other researchers found, however, that fiber supplements had no effect on body weight, even though it resulted in a reduction in food intake.5 Supplementation with 3 to 4 grams per day of a bulking agent called glucomannan, with or without a low-calorie diet, has promoted weight loss in overweight adults,6, 7, 8 while 2 to 3 grams per day was effective in a group of obese adolescents in another controlled trial.9 However, guar gum, another type of fiber supplement, has not been effective in controlled studies for weight loss or weight maintenance.10, 11, 12
*Dieters and weight-management advocates may claim benefits for this supplement based on their personal or professional experience. These are individual opinions and testimonials that may or may not be supported by controlled clinical studies or published scientific articles.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.