Research: Fiber intake improves weight loss

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Dietary viscous fiber increases weight loss independently of calorie consumption.


Fiber intake has been tied to multiple health benefits. Fiber is basically a non-digestible carbohydrate and is made from repeating sugars that form a chain or sheet. The bonds that bind the sugars together are not breakable by humans without some assistance. Some types are highly beneficial, while others can cause digestive problems in some people, in particular as the bacteria digest them and cause gas in the gut.

Not all fiber is the same. There are two forms of fiber in the food we consume. The two types are soluble and insoluble. The soluble fiber is also called viscous. It is a gell like compound and viscous fiber includes glucomannan, beta-glucans, pectins, guar gum, and psyllium. Souces for these vicious fibers include whole-food sources such as legumes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, oats, and flax seeds.

The good news for dieters is new research points to a role for viscous fiber to assist with weight loss​[1]​. The role of dietary fiber in obesity management has long been debated. The evidence suggests that the intake of viscous fiber may have the potential to facilitate weight loss. The researchers sought to document and quantify the effects of viscous fiber on body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and body fat. They wanted to also determine the independent for the effect from a calorie restriction.

The researchers did the research through a systematic review and meta-analysis of prior randomized controlled trials. The extracted data from trials looked at viscous fiber supplementation included 62 trials and 3877 subjects. The data analysis showed that viscous fiber reduced mean body weight by over 2/3 of a pound in 4 weeks or less. Most notably, researchers were moderately confident that the findings were independent of the calorie restriction.

The bottom line: Dietary viscous fiber or soluble fiber has a modest effect on reducing body weight and waist circumference. The reduction in adiposity was independent of calorie restriction. The results are encouraging but a randomized controlled trial should confirm these results. I would recommend increasing your fiber consumption if you are dieting.


  1. [1]
    E. Jovanovski et al., “Can dietary viscous fiber affect body weight independently of an energy-restrictive diet? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials,” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan. 2020 [Online]. Available:
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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