Soluble fiber improves body composition

Soluble fiber improves body composition

When we first launched Florasophy, we began getting feedback that our customers were noticing significant weight loss around the midsection. This is because “calories in, calories out” – a common trope in medicine and nutrition - has turned out to be one of the most unfortunate oversimplifications of all time. Our loyal Florasophy users were experiencing this first-hand.

The reality is that the source of calories is a HUGE determinant in how and where we store fat, build muscle and generate energy. Macros matter and fiber is no exception. Here are the nuts and bolts that will change the way you think about body composition and why soluble fiber is the answer to getting the most out of your meals.

Carbs aren’t bad…

if you need constant fuel like my 17-year-old son who uses his body multiple hours per day to push, pull, lift, dip, run, and jump for sports. His activity level demands a massive amount of carbohydrates to provide fuel, at a cellular level, for energy production. But most of us do a medium-light workout in the morning and then sit at our desk for the rest of the day. Liken this to how much gas you need to put in your car to drive to the grocery store versus a 3-day road trip. If you don't need constant fuel, what happens to the carbs you don’t burn?

Where do carbs go if you don’t burn them?

If you don’t need to generate large amounts of energy NOW, your body will take the majority of carbohydrate, absorbed mostly as glucose from food, and create triglycerides (this means 3 sugars). The carb you just ate has now become fat. Then your body stores the triglyceride in fat cells which act as your body’s storage tank for fuel in case you don’t have access to food, later. This type of fat (from sugar) is largely stored around the midsection which we lovingly (or not so lovingly) refer to as a muffin top. Worse, this type of fat can also be stored around and in vital organs like the liver as visceral fat which generates inflammation throughout the body.

The trick for healthy body comp is to eat whole foods and generally consume only the amount of carbohydrates you need to fuel daily energy production, and not much more.

While both protein and fat can be sources of fuel, neither one of those macros are immediately stored as fat at the rate glucose is. The process to break fat and protein (and then store them) demands a much higher level of energy. This means you burn more of their calories as you break down said fat/protein. 

How fiber changes carb metabolism and body comp

Soluble fiber is a huge factor in how your body absorbs, uses and stores carbs as fat. This is how it works:

  1. Soluble fiber expands in your stomach, making you fuller faster. This means you eat less, overall.
  2. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream which means you have longer to burn the fuel before it is packaged into fat.
  3. When fiber slows absorption, it stabilizes energy leading to higher activity levels and less fatigue.
  4. As soluble fiber moves through the digestive tract, it binds excess estrogen waste to prevent estrogen excess – a factor that can lead to weight gain for both men and women.
  5. Soluble fiber feeds metabolism-boosting microbes in the colon leading to higher overall metabolism.

Weight gain and fat mass accumulation, especially around the middle, can feel extremely hard to get rid of. As we age, there are more factors working against our body composition than for it. Adding more soluble fiber to your routine is a boost for body comp, and benefits virtually every aspect of health.

Just 3 teaspoons a day….

About Megan Barnett, MS, CNS

Megan Barnett, MSMegan Barnett is a functional medicine practitioner in Portland, Oregon. In her clinical practice, she helps patients identify the root cause of their health problems, then designs individualized and evidence-based approaches to alleviate symptoms and help their bodies heal. She has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Kansas State University and a Master of Science in Nutrition and Functional Medicine from University of Western States.