Adding fiber into my diet has helped me slim down, reduce belly bloat, feel fuller longer, and helped my postpartum journey.
A couple months ago, I mentioned that I had ditched the belly bloat by adding fiber into my diet. Hundreds of DMs and requests later, here is my post about fiber – why I all of a sudden started talking about it, how I added it into my diet, the effects I experienced, and why it’s been crucial for me postpartum.
Disclaimer: To preface this post like any other of my healthy journey posts, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a Registered Dietician or a nutritionist. I’m simply an individual who has found what works for me, and I’m sharing it in hopes that it may resonate with some of you in the same position. Always consult a doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet!
In late May, I had the humbling moment of meeting Tanya Zuckerbrot, a badass entrepreneur who, as a Registered Dietician, has created an empire (called The F Factor Diet) around one key nutrient that she says everyone needs to add more of to their diets: FIBER. Apparently, the typical American diet contains no more than 15 grams of fiber per day, despite the recommendation being 25-38 grams a day at least.
While I was sitting on a panel with her, listening to her talk about fiber and how it keeps people feeling fuller longer, I thought to myself, “Oh, I eat SO much fiber, and I’m still always hungry!”
Now, there’s much more to the science behind adding more fiber into your diet than just feeling fuller longer, but this is what resonated with me most, since I’m someone who feels like they’re ALWAYS ravenous, despite eating “healthfully.” Other benefits of adding fiber to your diet include reducing blood pressure, protecting against colon cancer, protecting against heart disease, decreasing risk for diabetes, and so forth.
Let’s back up. A couple of days later after meeting Tanya, as I was on my third snack of the day post-lunch, I reached for The F Factor Diet book that I had snagged after meeting her (#womensupportingwomen.) Tanya started off treating heart patients and Type 1 diabetics, saving their lives basically, but in the meantime, they were losing weight. She had them on a high fiber diet and friends of these patients started approaching her for her “diet,” when really, her goal at the time was just to help her patients with their cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar levels, etc. She calls it “luck” that she discovered this “side effect” of a high fiber diet (that it’s the key to long-term weight loss), but the woman’s a real genius!
Yes, The F Factor Diet is an actual diet (you’ll have to read her book if you want to try it!) and her whole mantra is “fiber and protein at every meal makes losing weight no big deal.” Basically, she claims (and science proves) that “fiber makes calories disappear.” To quote her book, “fiber acts like a sponge in your digestive tract, absorbing other molecules like carbs, fats, and sugars – along with all their calories – and preventing them from settling on your hips.” Crazy, right?
Basically, if you add in fiber to any meal, you’re reducing your total calories absorbed. If you’re interested in weight loss, this is amazing. You can eat more (just make sure the “more” is fiber rich foods!) and lose weight. There are more guidelines to the diet, but you can find it all in her book!
What I love about Tanya is her overall outlook. She’s not one of those people who says, “You have to do this!” or “Eat less!” She’s all about living life (she’s very adamant that wine doesn’t cause weight gain, which I LOVE) and that 80/20 – if you eat healthy most of the time, it leaves room for carefree spontaneity, like a celebratory slice of birthday cake or a big bowl of pasta after a tough day. She doesn’t want anyone to feel deprived.
I also love her philosophy of supplements (I think we’re a very supplement-obsessed society right now!): supplement means you’re not getting enough of something, so you have to supplement. So why not just get enough of it naturally (with foods)? Love that.
High fiber foods that I’ve built into my diet
You all know I love my vegetables, but there are some that are higher in fiber than others, and there are other foods that are fiber-rich that I started eating more of. Here are some examples of the foods I started building more into my diet:
- GG crackers: these are a big part of The F Factor Diet, because there are 4g of fiber in each 20 calorie cracker. SO, 80 calories for 16g of fiber and you’re already halfway to your minimum recommended fiber intake for the day! I found them at Whole Foods (or you can buy them on their website or on Amazon.) I have these 4 crackers every single day, around 3pm, usually with some almond butter and raspberries! It’s like a healthy PB&J!
- Blackberries and raspberries (I had no idea there were 8g of fiber in 1 cup!)
- Artichokes (1 large artichoke has 9g of fiber!)
- Spinach – 1 cooked cup has 4g of fiber
- Cereal – I bought this high-fiber cereal and stir 1/2 cup into my morning smoothies now (smoothies have fiber-rich foods like spinach, blueberries, almond butter, and chia seeds.) Sometimes I do granola, but mostly now, it’s the cereal!
- Lentils and beans – this is a huge one, 1 cup of lentils is 15g of fiber! That’s why you may have seen me eat bowls of lentils – it’s half your serving of fiber for the day!
- Avocado – a full avocado is 8g of fiber, so half of one is 4g, which is usually what I’ll have
- Chia seeds – 5.5g of fiber per tablespoon! Great for mixing into smoothies (maybe 1/2 tablespoon) or using in recipes, like these Thai Chicken Meatballs.
- Oatmeal – stir in some chia seeds, blueberries, nut butter, and you’ve got a high-fiber breakfast!
Little changes can go a long way. For example, one of my afternoon snacks used to be a banana with almond butter. Simply by adding the GG crackers in (to spread the nut butter on) and using 1/4 of the banana and adding raspberries, I’ve reduced my caloric absorption AND feel fuller, longer.
It’s so simple it’s silly.
And just a note, it’s extremely important to drink at least 8 cups of water a day while adding more fiber to your diet. I drink a LOT of water, so there was no change there on my part. I’m a camel!
Are you doing The F Factor Diet?
No. But let me explain.
Since having baby Luca, I’ve felt so hungry and more tired than ever (and it’s not just the baby!) More so than pre-baby. My body’s needs clearly changed, and my “old” diet wasn’t cutting it. For instance, as a nursing mother, I’m burning more calories than a non-nursing mother (anywhere from 300-500 calories a day, they say!) Thus, I need to eat more, right? Yes – but what I realized, after hearing Tanya speak, is that I wasn’t eating enough fiber and those “extra” calories I was taking in weren’t keep me satisfied, or fueling me properly. Plus, I always had belly bloat!
That’s why, when I learned about The Factor Diet and heard Tanya speak, I had to look more into this whole fiber thing. She says, on her diet, you’ll be eating at least 35 grams of fiber a day. So, I counted my fiber intake from what I ate the day before. A measly 25 grams of fiber! I just met the minimum!
What I realized is that my breakfasts weren’t as fiber-full as they could be and my snacks definitely weren’t! Just those two tweaks of my daily diet has made SUCH a change in my energy levels, satiation, and belly bloat.
I was shocked, so I started making lists of high-fiber foods, eating more of them, and counting my daily fiber intake. Nothing crazy (no trackers), just writing it down on my notepad by my desk. And I realized how easy it is to add more fiber to your diet, and I couldn’t believe that I didn’t know about such a “simple” concept. After about a week of learning about fiber-filled foods and “tracking” my fiber, I ditched the notepad and just made sure to add fiber to my diet at every meal, especially my snacks!
So why am I not “doing” her diet? Well, I’m not a diet kind of person, it personally leads me to obsessive, restrictive behavior (I become competitive with myself, overachieving and not enjoying food.) Most importantly, I wasn’t interested in weight loss, perhaps just ditching some belly bloat. My most important concern was energy and satiation. And it has worked so well! My tummy is flatter (and now toning up thanks to my BBG journey) and now when I reach for a snack or build a breakfast, I pack it with fiber and protein and I’m never hungry.
Example of my daily diet:
Here’s a super fiber-filled day (probably the max fiber I’ll eat in a day!)
Breakfast – 22.6 g of fiber: Spinach smoothie with 3-4 cups of spinach, 1 banana, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1 tbsp flaxseed, 1 tbsp almond butter, almond milk, protein powder and 1/2 cup Smart Bran cereal
Lunch – 16.7 g of fiber: 1/2 cup lentils, 1 cup roasted brussels sprouts, 1/4 avocado, 1/2 cup roasted sweet potatoes, 1 tbsp tahini
Snack – 11.6 g of fiber: 2 GG crackers with 1 tbsp almond butter and 1/4 cup raspberries
Dinner – 6 g of fiber: Turkey bolognese with zucchini noodles
Total fiber for the day: 56.9 grams of fiber!
All days, I don’t eat this much fiber. For instance, if I start my day off with a bowl of oatmeal (with almond butter, raspberries & banana), I only start off with 10g of fiber (so half the fiber!) Also, my lunches aren’t always huge veggie bowls – sometimes I have some chicken sausage with sweet potatoes, avocado, and brussels sprouts (about 7.5 g of fiber.) On those days, my fiber intake is usually around 35-40g.
Each day is different, but I try to get in at least 40g of fiber a day!
Thanks to Tanya Zuckerbrot and her F Factor Diet for introducing me to a fiber-filled diet. I’ve finally found my healthy swerve postpartum! I hope this post helps some of you, too (postpartum and not!) At the very least, do an audit of your diet, see how much fiber you’re getting, and you may surprise yourself. A little extra fiber can’t hurt!