We all know our bodies need calcium for bones, vitamin C to fend off colds, and chocolate to save relationships. But when it comes to losing weight, the nutritional information is a little more confusing. The mighty trilogy of nutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fat – garners most of the diet industry’s attention, but it’s becoming much more clear that fiber needs to be the fourth leg of the dietary table. Study after study shows that not only does fiber help lower your risk of cancer, heart attack, and high blood pressure, but it also keeps you full and helps you decrease the total amount of calories you consume every day. Trouble is, most of us think that getting the recommended 30 grams of fiber a day means eating cereal that tastes like the box it comes in. But that’s not the case; you can sneak fiber into your diet anywhere.
- Drop a whole orange into the blender to flavor your morning smoothie. One peeled orange has nearly 3 g more fiber than even the pulpiest orange juice.
- Fill your juice glass with nectar instead of a watery juice from concentrate. Nectar is apricot, peach, pear, or papaya juice, mixed with fiber-rich pulp. It packs more than 1 g of fiber per 8-ounce glass.
- Heat up a bowl of oat bran instead of oatmeal; it has nearly 2 g more fiber. Add even more flavor and fiber by stirring in 1/4 cup of raisins or chopped dates before nuking it.
- Sprinkle ground flaxseed over your favorite cold cereal, or stir a few spoonfuls into a cup of yogurt. Two tablespoons equals close to an extra 2 g fiber.
- Grab an Asian pear. Similar in taste to other pears, the red-colored Asian variety has an apple-like crispness and shape, and it delivers significantly more fiber – 4 g per pear.
- Buy spreadable fiber, like almond butter, for your whole-wheat toast. Two tablespoons adds 2 g of fiber, along with a healthy dose of heart-protecting fats and vitamins like E.
- Whip up a pack of hot-chocolate mix instead of that second cup of coffee. Most instant-cocoa mixes have as much as 3 g of fiber per cup.
- Spice up your eggs. One-third of a cup of chopped onion and one clove of garlic will add 1 g of fiber to scrambled eggs. Or fold the eggs omelette-style over 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli for an additional 2 g.
- Don’t like whole wheat? Make your sandwiches with rye bread. One slice has almost 2 g fiber – twice the amount found in white bread.
- Opt for burritos instead of tacos. Flour tortillas have more fiber than taco shells. Even better, make the burrito whole wheat for still more fiber per serving. Now, order that burrito with meat and beans instead of meat alone. Half a cup of beans adds 6 g of fiber to your meal.
- Stow some microwavable soup in your desk for when you need to work through lunch. Lentil, chili with beans, ham and bean, and black bean each have between 6 and 10 g of fiber per cup.
- Shower your pizza with oregano or basil. A teaspoon of either spice adds 1 g of fiber. Order it with mushrooms and you’ll get 1 g more.
- Build your burger with a sesame-seed bun instead of the plain variety. Sesame seeds add 1/2 g of fiber per burger.
- Order your dog with sauerkraut. Every 1/4 cup you pile on adds close to 1 g of fiber to your frank.
In the Afternoon:
- Drink bottled chocolate milk, not white. The combination of the chocolate and the compounds needed to keep it suspended in the milk provides 1.5 g of fiber in every 8 ounces.
- Pop a pack of light popcorn instead of popping open a bag of potato chips. There’s 8 g of fiber in every bag of popcorn.
- Have a low-sodium V8 and its 2 g of fiber. The V8 that comes spiked with salt has half that amount.
- Graze on trail mix instead of a granola bar. Most granola bars have only 1 g of fiber, while trail mix with dried fruit has nearly 3 g.
- Toss 1/2 cup of chickpeas into a pot of your favorite soup. They’ll absorb the flavor of the soup and tack 6 g of fiber onto your bottom line.
- Swap a sweet potato for your standard spud. Sweet potatoes have 2 g more fiber per tuber than the typical Idaho variety. Not a fan? At least eat the skin of the regular potato – it alone has 1 g of fiber.
- Go wild when you make rice. Cup for cup, wild rice has three times the fiber of white.
- Add some green to your red sauce. Doctor your favorite jarred pasta sauce with 1/2 cup of frozen chopped spinach. The spinach will take on the flavor of the sauce and pad your fiber count by more than 2 g.
- Prepare whole-wheat or spinach pasta instead of the regular semolina kind. A cup of either has 5 g of fiber.
- Cook broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, and you’ll take in 3 to 5 g of fiber per serving, as much as twice what you’ll get if you eat them raw. (Heat makes fiber more available.)
- Use uncooked oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs in your next meat loaf. Add 3/4 cup of oats per pound of ground meat, and you’ll boost the total fiber count to more than 8 g.
- Say nuts to candy bars. Bars with almonds, like Almond Joy and Alpine white chocolate with almonds, have about 2 g of fiber – almost twice the fiber content of bars without.
- Top a bowl of ice cream with sliced fresh berries in lieu of syrup. One-half cup of raspberries provides 4 g of fiber; strawberries and blueberries pack half that amount.
- Introduce your pie hole to a slice of apple, cherry, or berry pie, and you’ll add an extra 3 to 5 g of fiber. Cake doesn’t have nearly as much fiber.