Insoluble Fiber Is Also Healthy!
With all the benefits soluble fiber has, it would seem as if the majority of our fiber should be soluble. Not so fast, though! Just because soluble fiber has some amazing benefits does not mean that we should consume it to the exclusion of insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is also associated with increased health, just not in as direct a way.
Insoluble fiber is rarely fermentable, which means that our gut bacteria cannot digest it into SCFAs. The bad news here is that this means insoluble fiber doesn’t directly support colon health, but there is a silver lining: we absorb 0% of the calories of insoluble fiber!
As a result, insoluble fiber can actually be “more filling per calorie” than soluble fiber, even though insoluble fiber does not gel, does not slow transmit time, and does not decrease absorption of carbohydrates and fats. What insoluble fiber does do is add bulk, increasing the ‘size’ of our meal when it enters the stomach, and passes through us completely undigested, making all the calories found in insoluble fiber essentially free. In fact, on nutrition labels, the calories from insoluble fiber are not required to be included in the total calorie count.
The Effects of Fiber on Belly Fat
Despite the amazing benefits of both soluble and insoluble fibers, neither directly affect belly fat. Since we know that fiber is either completely unabsorbed (as with insoluble fiber), or converted into a completely different substance (SCFAs) and used primarily by the colon (as with soluble fiber), this makes sense.
Unlike the catechins in green tea, fiber doesn’t get to enter the blood stream and will never make its way to the fat cells in order to exert a direct effect. Instead, all of fiber’s effects are indirect, and are associated with the positive dietary changes that come along with increased fiber intake.
Fiber, regardless of whether it is soluble or insoluble, is inversely associated with belly fat. This means that the more fiber someone consumes daily, the less belly fat they are likely to have (and vice-versa). This correlation holds with both insoluble and soluble fiber; in fact, some studies show that the power of soluble and insoluble fiber on reducing belly fat are basically equal!
What is not well answered by research yet is whether fiber, in-and-of-itself, exerts the positive benefits we see on belly fat (and health in general) or whether these benefits are actually attributable to the foods which contain lots of fiber: fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
In other words, the question which needs to be answered is, “Will a fiber supplement reduce belly fat by itself, or does the fiber work best when consumed as a part of whole foods?”
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