Dietary fibre - the magical non-pill approach for weight-loss
Disclaimer: Ozempic is a type 2 diabetes medication, and it is not a medication for people who do not have diabetes or are at risk of type 2 diabetes.
Ozempic is not approved for weight-loss. However, semaglutide is approved for weight-loss under the name 'Wegovy'. Moreover, research shows that when patients use these drugs their bodies get used to and adapt to them, setting a new baseline. This adaptation can lead to your weight becoming steady. Research has suggested that discontinuing Ozempic (or Wegovy) significantly increases the likelihood of regaining the weight you had previously shed.
Ozempic is a once-weekly injection designed to assist in lowering blood sugar levels by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin. Although it is not officially sanctioned for weight-loss, some physicians do prescribe it for that purpose. The most concerning situation arises when individuals attempt to obtain this medication without a prescription and attempt to use it without proper medical supervision.
Ozempic operates by emulating a naturally occurring hormone. As the levels of this hormone increase, the molecules transmit signals to the brain, indicating a sense of fullness. It also decelerates the process of digestion, prolonging the time it takes for food to exit the body. Wevgovy and Ozempic emulate a hormone that our bodies naturally produce while consuming food, known as GLP-1.
But, it appears that there is a considerably safer and healthier approach to losing weight if you don't meet the criteria for a prescription of these medications. It turns out that we can increase the levels of this hormone by changing our diet. Safer and healthier approach, isn’t it? Recent studies indicate that specific varieties of dietary fibre are more effective in stimulating the release of GLP-1 and in controlling appetite than others.
How can fibre help you lose weight?
Imagine waking up in the morning feeling hungry, and having a breakfast consisting of two slices of white bread with creamy spread and an egg. As the digested food moves into your small intestine, it triggers a flurry of activity in your bloodstream and brain due to various nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids.
This meal activates cells in your intestines, which subsequently release a range of hormones, including GLP-1, alongside other satiation hormones. These hormones instruct your body to initiate nutrient absorption and suppress hunger signals, causing you to slow down and eventually stop eating because you feel satisfied.
At this stage, GLP-1 comes into play. It initiates the release of insulin and slows down the movement of food from the stomach into the intestine, preventing rapid fuel (energy) consumption. Once GLP-1 enters the bloodstream, it starts to degrade swiftly.
Consequently, a few hours after consuming this low-fibre breakfast, the levels of GLP-1 in your blood decrease, and hunger returns by the time lunch rolls around.
Now, let's reconsider a different breakfast scenario. What if, instead of consuming white bread, you chose a high-fibre rye bread, that contains approximately 10 grams of fibre? It turns out that incorporating this substantial fibre content provides another opportunity for your intestines to release GLP-1, many hours after the meal. And what would that mean? It signifies that you'll experience a prolonged feeling of fullness, which, in turn, translates to delayed hunger. And this is exactly what Ozempic does, isn’t it?
Dietary fibre – better glycaemic control
The characteristics of every food, including its composition and structure, have an impact on how nutrients are digested and absorbed. Dietary fibre, particularly the viscous type, can play a role in lowering the glycemic response that occurs when consuming foods rich in carbohydrates. This means that if you struggle with having balanced blood sugar, fibre can become a really good friend. Following a low-glycemic diet can aid in preventing large blood glucose spikes throughout the day.
How much fibre should I have?
You should aim to not have less than 30g of fibre per day. Government recommendations advise that individuals who are 17 years old and older should aim for a daily intake of 30 grams of dietary fibre. Foods rich in fibres are nuts and seeds, wholegrain foods, vegetables with the skin, fruits, peas, beans and pulses.
How can I include more fibre in my diet?
If you want to boost your fibre consumption, it's advisable to do so gradually to prevent gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating and gas.
- Opt for a high-fibre breakfast cereal, such as wholegrain options like wholewheat biscuit cereal, muesli without added sugar, bran flakes, or a hearty bowl of porridge.
- Enhance the nutritional value by including fresh fruit, dried fruit, seeds, or nuts.
- Incorporate whole grains into your cooking, like wholewheat pasta, bulgur wheat, or brown rice.
- Opt for potatoes with their skins intact, such as baked potatoes, potato wedges, or boiled new potatoes. These can be enjoyed hot or used in salads.
- When it comes to bread, opt for wholemeal or seeded wholegrain varieties.
- Ensure your meals are rich in vegetables, whether as a side dish, salad, or added to sauces, or stews.
An example intake that equals = 30g fibre/day
Two slices of wholemeal bread (4.7g), banana (1.5g), apple (2.4g), 150g baked beans (7g), 150g sweet potato with the skin (6-7g), 100-150g mixed veggie salad (2g-4g), a handful of almonds (2g), 100g boiled peas (4g) = approximately 32.6g fibre.
CADTH. 2019. Clinical Review Report: Semaglutide (Ozempic). Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, pp.1 -147.
JOHN, P.H. et al. 2021. Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity. The New English Journal of Medicine, 384(11), pp. 989-1002.
BODNARUC, A.M. et al. 2016. Nutritional modulation of endogenous glucagon-like peptide-1 secretion: a review. Nutrition and Metabolism, 13(92), pp. 1-16.
GOFF, H.D. et al. 2018. Dietary fibre for glycaemic control: Towards a mechanistic understanding. Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre, 14(1), pp. 39-53.
British Nutrition Foundation, 2021. Fibre. [online]. UK: British Nutrition Foundation. Available from: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthy-sustainable-diets/starchy-foods-sugar-and-fibre/fibre/?level=Consumer (Accessed 8th November 2023).
British Dietetic Association, 2021. Fibre. [online]. UK: British Dietetic Association. Available from: https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/fibre.html (Accessed 8th November 2023).