Slimming down usually means eating less while exercising more. Shortcuts to weight loss just don’t work, and if they did, the changes are only temporary. And excess fat, especially around the waistline, is usually the hardest to shed off.
Belly fat, or visceral fat, is more dangerous for the health than subcutaneous fat, which lies just under the skin. Besides being unsightly, belly fat increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health conditions. This means that large waist size is an indicator of poor health. Fortunately, belly fat can be reduced by having a higher fiber intake. However, it seems like the only type of fiber that can help you lose belly fat is soluble fiber.
Sources of soluble fiber
Foods high in soluble fiber include peas, beans, legumes, oats, apples, citrus fruits, barley, carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, flaxseeds, and Brussel sprouts.
It is recommended that if you want to lose belly fat, increase the amount of soluble fiber in your diet gradually to ease your stomach in. Eating too much fiber at once may make you gassy, or cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, and bloating. Drinking plenty of water will also help.
Soluble fiber can help reduce belly fat.
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. They differ in how they react with water in the body. Insoluble fiber doesn’t mix with water, but aids in digestion. Mostly, it acts as a bulking agent to help form stool and let it pass through the gut. It can also help ease constipation.
Meanwhile, soluble fiber mixes with water to form a gel-like substance that can slow down the speed of releasing digested food into the gut. This allows water and nutrients to have more contact time with the gut walls, leading to better absorption. A study revealed that for every 10 grams of soluble fiber eaten daily, belly fat is reduced by 3.7%. You can add soluble fiber by eating a cup of green peas, one-half cup of pinto beans, or two small apples.
Other studies have shown that people who eat more soluble fiber have a lower risk of having visceral fat.
Soluble fiber causes a greater variety of gut bacteria, which helps lower belly fat.
Our bodies provide a home for good and bad bacteria. More than 100 trillion good bacteria are living in our lower gut. These good bacteria have a mutually beneficial relationship with humans, as our bodies provide it with home and nutrients. Meanwhile, bacteria help take care of processes like processing waste and producing vitamins.
There are different types of bacteria, and having more variety of gut bacteria is shown to cause a lower risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and insulin resistance. Also, a study found that people with more types of gut bacteria have a lower risk of belly fat.
How can gut bacteria reduce belly fat?
Since the body cannot digest fiber itself, it reaches the gut largely unchanged. Once it’s there, specific enzymes in the gut bacteria can digest soluble fiber. It acts as a prebiotic and provides bacteria with nutrients.
When the soluble fiber is digested and processed by the gut, it produces short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids help regulate fat metabolism by increasing the fat burning rate and decreasing fat storage rate. Many studies also show a correlation between higher amounts of short-chain fatty acids to a lower risk of belly fat.
In short, gut bacteria digest soluble fiber by producing short-chain fatty acids, which can reduce belly fat.
Soluble fiber helps control appetite.
The most effective way to reduce belly fat is to lose weight. Spot reduction isn’t possible, so you’ll need to lower your overall body fat so you can flatten your stomach. By suppressing your appetite, you are more likely to take in fewer calories, which is essential for losing weight.
Soluble fiber helps reduce your appetite in helpful ways. First, it helps regulate hunger hormones. Some studies have shown that eating soluble fiber reduces the number of hunger hormones produced by the body, including neuropeptide and ghrelin. Meanwhile, it increases the production of hormones that make you feel full.
Second, fiber slows the movement of food through the gut, resulting in a decrease in appetite. When nutrients like glucose are slowly released to the gut because of fiber, the body releases insulin slower. This reduces your sense of hunger.
Fiber supplements can be an option for reducing belly fat.
Eating whole foods is the best way to increase soluble fiber intake, but it’s not always possible for most people. If you don’t have the time to carefully prepare your meals every day, taking a soluble fiber supplement is your next best option.
Supplements that include inulin, psyllium husk, and glucomannan can help you lose belly fat. All these supplements have shown promise and evidence for belly fat loss.