Major shortcomings associated with sustainable weight loss include difficulty following low-calorie diets and the body’s ability to regain weight easily.

A recent study, published in the October 2019 issue of The Journal of Nutrition, provides new information that dietary fiber intake, independent of macronutrient and caloric intake, may help overcome these obstacles. The study team, led by Derek Miketinas (Texas Woman’s University; Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University) and colleagues, evaluated the role of dietary fiber, other nutrients, and individual characteristics as predictors of weight loss and dietary adherence in overweight or obese adults who followed low-calorie diets for 6 months. 

Subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 energy-restricted diets. The compositions of the 4 diets were 1) low-fat, average-protein; 2) low-fat, high-protein; 3) high-fat, average-protein; and 4) high-fat, high protein. All diets were designed to include at least 20 grams of dietary fiber, daily. Each participant’s diet reflected a 750 Calorie per day reduction in energy needs. Measurements were taken at the start of the trial and 6 months later.  Nutrient intake, including total fiber, was estimated from food records and dietary recalls.

The results from this analysis are consistent with other studies that found dietary fiber could be helpful for those seeking to lose weight. Change in fiber intake from the beginning of the study to 6 months was the strongest predictor of weight loss. On average, an increase of fiber by 4 grams per day over what participants consumed before the study was associated with an additional 3 ¼ pounds of weight loss over 6 months.  This association between fiber intake and weight loss was not different between diet-types. 

Additionally, participants who met their fiber goals were also more likely to adhere to their assigned diet.  Results of this study strongly suggest that dietary fiber intake is an integral component of a successful dietary weight loss intervention that involves calorie restriction.

Reference: Miketinas DC, Bray GA, Beyl RA, Ryan DH, Sacks FM, Champagne CM.   Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 149, Issue 10, October 2019, Pages 1742–1748, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxz117

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