Belly fat is extremely unhealthy. In fact, it increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other health conditions.
Fortunately, it can be lost, and recent research shows that a higher fiber intake is linked to a lower risk of belly fat .
But interestingly, it seems that this includes only one type of fiber — soluble fiber. This article explains how soluble fiber can help you lose belly fat.
Soluble Fiber Can Help You Lose Belly Fat
There are two types of fiber — insoluble and soluble fiber. They differ in how they interact with water in your body.
Insoluble fiber does not mix with water and acts mostly as a bulking agent to help form stool and pass it through the gut. This can help with constipation.
Soluble fiber, such as beta-glucan, psyllium husk and glucomannan, mixes with water to form a viscous, gel-like substance that slows down how fast the stomach releases digested food into the gut.
This gives nutrients and water more contact time with the walls of the gut, leading to better absorption.
Eating more soluble fiber can also help you lose belly fat and prevent belly fat gain. One study linked a 10-gram increase in daily soluble fiber intake to a 3.7% lower risk of gaining belly fat.
Soluble Fiber Encourages Gut Bacteria Diversity, Which Is Linked to Less Belly Fat
There are over 100 trillion helpful bacteria living in your lower gut.
Unlike other bacteria, these bacteria are harmless and share a mutually beneficial relationship with humans.
Humans provide the bacteria with a home and nutrients, while the bacteria help take care of processes like producing vitamins and processing waste .
There are many different types of bacteria, and having a greater variety of gut bacteria is linked to a lower risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and heart disease, to name a few.
And although it’s not clear why, many studies show that people who consume more soluble fiber have a greater variety of bacteria and better health outcomes.
Sources of Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is easy to add to your diet and found in a variety of plant-based foods.
Foods that are high in soluble fiber include flaxseeds, sweet potatoes, fruits like apricots and oranges, Brussels sprouts, legumes and grains like oatmeal.
However, although soluble fiber may help you lose belly fat, it’s not a great idea to eat lots of soluble fiber right away.
This can cause side effects, such as stomach cramps, diarrhea and bloating. It’s best to increase your intake slowly, over time, to help improve your body’s tolerance.
As far as recommended daily intake goes, the US Department of Agriculture recommends that men aim to consume 30–38 grams of fiber per day, while women should aim for 21–25 grams per day .
Can Fiber Supplements Help Reduce Belly Fat?
Whole foods are the best way to increase your soluble fiber intake.
But if this isn’t realistic for you, taking a soluble fiber supplement could be an option.
Various types are available, including psyllium husk, glucomannan and inulin, and some evidence shows they can help you lose belly fat.
For example, one six-week study in teenage boys showed that taking a psyllium husk supplement reduced belly fat.
Also, the viscous fiber glucomannan has shown mixed results for belly fat loss. One study in mice found that glucomannan supplements reduced belly fat, while a human study showed the same effect, but only in men .