Protein and fibre: your two secret weapons in the battle against the bulge
Have you tried to lose weight but struggled with feeling hungry? Does dieting leave you feeling exhausted and hunting out quick energy fixes like sugar-laden biscuits or caffeine-laced drinks? Then you need to focus on balancing your blood sugar levels. Peaks and troughs in blood sugar levels will give you energy slumps and food cravings, leaving you feeling knackered and reaching out for stimulants like sugar and caffeine. Protein and fibre are your two secret weapons when it comes to controlling your blood sugar levels and losing weight.
Protein and fibre-rich foods slow down the rate at which food leaves your stomach. Eating them will leave you feeling fuller for longer and you will end up eating less. And by slowing down your digestion, sugar will be released in to your blood stream more gradually, giving you better control over your blood sugar levels and more balanced energy levels.
There are two types of protein – vegetable and animal. Vegetable proteins include lentils, beans, pulses, soya, nuts and seeds. Animal proteins include chicken, lamb, beef, turkey and fish. Animal proteins can cause inflammation in the body, and inflammation can contribute to obesity, so try to have more vegetable protein than animal protein.
There are two types of fibre – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre is found in fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, pulses and porridge oats. Insoluble fibre is found in whole grains, brown rice, seeds and nuts. We need to have a balance of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre helps to stabilise blood sugar levels whilst insoluble fibre provides lots of roughage, moving waste through your digestive system and making your stools more bulky and solid but softer and easier to pass.
When losing weight, fibre-rich foods can also assist in the removal of toxins from your body. Many toxins accumulate in fat cells. As you lose weight, your body breaks down the fat cells and their contents, including the toxins, need to be removed from the body. Fibre acts like a sponge in the digestive tract, soaking up the toxins and enabling them to be eliminated in the faeces.
Some people will find that suddenly increasing their fibre intake could lead to wind, bloating or cramps as the body adapts to the change in diet. To minimise these side effects, gradually build up the amount of fibre you are eating, and remember to increase the amount of water you drink too. Fibre’s sponge like qualities will draw water out of your body and so you will need to drink more in order to avoid dehydration.
So for successful weight loss, without the fatigue or cravings, make sure that there is a good source of protein or fibre in every meal or snack.