Eating lots of fibre helps you lose weight.

Adding more vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes, such as beans and lentils, to your diet can help stop the weight gain some people think is inevitable as we age.

“Increasing fibre in the diet is one healthy way to decrease calorie consumption and reduce the risk of weight gain over time,” says Dr. Larry Tucker, lead author of a new study and a researcher at Brigham Young University College of Health and Human Performance in Provo, Utah. “Both a high fibre intake and abundant physical activity are crucial for weight management.”

This advice may not be completely new, but Tucker’s research team has found the effect of fibre is more powerful than you might think.

In Utah, 252 women were enrolled in a study that lasted 20 months. Researchers recorded their age, weight, and percentage of body at the beginning and the end of the study.

For seven days at the start of the study, the women were assessed to find out how much food they ate overall, how much fat was in their diet, how much fibre they ate, and how much exercise they did. These assessments were done again for seven days at the end of the study.

The mean age of the women in the study was 40. They weren’t told to change their regular eating or exercising habits, but many did anyway. Over 20 months, 24 per cent of the women lost weight, 29 per cent stayed the same and 47 per cent gained weight. This high rate of weight gain is considered normal, since weight gain as we age is common in North America.

But here’s the good news: Not all women were at equal risk for gaining weight — and you can control your risk using fibre. Those who ate more fibre were less likely to gain weight and body fat.

Reducing fibre is definitely a no-no. For each 1 g decrease in total fibre in the study, 0.25 kg was gained over 20 months.

Feel full faster with fibre
• If you eat more fibre, you tend to eat less overall because fibre adds weight and volume to food.

• Another benefit of fibre is that if you eat it during the same meal with fat, it binds to the fat, causing fewer fats to be absorbed and hence reducing calorie intake. “This latter mechanism is small, but real,” Dr. Larry Tucker, lead author of a new study and a researcher at Brigham Young University College of Health and Human Performance in Provo, Utah, told Metro. “Fibre helps fill you up on fewer calories,” he says. – Celia Milne/for Metro Canada