'Thin' Foods to Aid Weight Loss
Do you get plenty of calcium, soy, and fiber in your diet? If not, you're not eating the right "thin" foods.
An interesting side note to the larger calcium story is emerging in research on soy protein and soy isoflavones. An article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in December 2002 found in soy many of the same properties that have been seen in calcium. More research in soy's potential weight-loss properties is ongoing, but it is too early to say whether early findings will hold up in larger trials.
Sure, your body needs water to metabolize stored fat, among other functions, so drink lots of it. But the amount of water in your food can also be important for weight management.
"Drinking water before or during meals has not been shown in studies to not do much in terms of reducing calorie intake," says Clare Hassler, MD, director of the Functional Foods for Health Program at the University of Illinois. "But when people eat foods that have high water content, they feel fuller longer and consume fewer calories. And this effect is independent of the food's fiber content."
Most fruits and vegetables are between 80% and 90% water. But there are some high-protein foods that also contain lots of water. Eggs and fish, for example, are nearly 70% water. And soup appears to give that fuller feeling far longer than some denser, more caloric foods.
"Most of Americans get only about 10 to 12 grams of fiber a day, and that is far too little" says Hassler. "Just about every health organization recommends getting between 30 to 35 grams for adults."
Hassler says that low levels of fiber can contribute to a wide range of chronic health problems and diseases, including certain cancers. And in terms of weight management, people who get too little fiber are missing out.
"Fiber provides a kind of bulk, which gives us the physiological feeling of fullness," she says. "It can replace calorie-dense, fatty foods from the diet."
So what is fiber exactly? It is an indigestible plant product. Since your body can't digest it, it has no calories. Fruits and vegetables are some of the best sources of fiber.
"Fiber-rich foods can be an important tool in weight management," says Moore.
John Casey is a freelance writer in New York City.
Published May 9, 2003.
Medically updated Dec. 7, 2004.