As its name suggests, a high-fiber low-fat diet is a nutritional plan which is based on the aims of taking in a large amount of fiber and a minimal amount of fat. A high-fiber low-fat diet has the potential to facilitate weight loss, to keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check, and to promote digestive health. For maximum health benefits, however, those following this diet should take care to maintain proper nutritional balance, and should also consider incorporating regular physical activity into their life.
Fiber, the indigestible plant matter found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and legumes, has a number of positive effects when eaten regularly. First of all, fiber tends to create a full feeling which may discourage overeating, in turn facilitating weight loss. In addition, fiber can help lower the body’s levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, as well as controlling blood sugar. Further, a diet rich in fiber can support digestive health by promoting regular bowel movements.
Unlike fiber, regularly consuming large amounts of fat, especially saturated fats and trans fats, can cause serious damage to one’s health. A high fat intake can lead to high cholesterol, which in turn can bring on clogged arteries, heart attack, and stroke. Further, fat tends to be higher in calories than identical quantities of other dietary components, such as protein. This means that a high-fat diet is generally also high in calories, which can translate to weight gain and obesity.
A high-fiber low-fat diet not only allows dieters to harness the health benefits of fiber, but also allows them to further reduce their risk of high cholesterol and weight gain by limiting fat intake. Nutrition experts recommend that women should aim for a daily fiber intake of 25 grams or more, while men should seek to take in at least 38 grams. To meet this goal, they should increase their consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains such as oatmeal and barley. At the same time, they should decrease their intake of highly-refined, low-fiber foods such as baked goods, candy, and white bread.
It so happens that many foods that are good sources of fiber are also low in fat. Therefore, in focusing on meeting one’s daily fiber target, it is likely that the low-fat component of a high-fiber low-fat diet will partly take care of itself. Nevertheless, it can be useful to monitor one’s fat intake to ensure that the overall amount of fat consumed is indeed being limited. Health experts recommend a total daily fat intake of 45 to 75 grams. Those seeking to eat a low-fat diet should aim toward the lower end of this range.
For maximum health benefits, those following this diet should remember the importance of nutritional balance. Foods like red meat and cheese are good sources of important nutrients such as protein and calcium, but they can often be high in fat and low in fiber. Instead of totally eliminating these nutrients from the diet, it is more beneficial to seek healthier sources of the nutrients, such as chicken and fiber-enriched low-fat yogurt. Finally, dieters should remember the importance of regular physical activity in controlling weight and strengthening the cardiovascular system.