FI­BRE FOR THE WIN

There’s a type of car­bo­hy­drate that boosts your work­out re­sults, fat-burn­ing power, mood and mo­ti­va­tion. It’s fi­bre – and you prob­a­bly haven’t been get­ting enough. Un­til now.

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Find out how this car­bo­hy­drate boosts your me­tab­o­lism, mood and mo­ti­va­tion. n.

Fi­bre’s fuddy-duddy im­age is get­ting a makeover – and a wellde­served one. For starters, new re­search shows that fi­bre is crit­i­cal for ac­tive women as it helps them to work out harder and longer. A type of car­bo­hy­drate, it helps food pass through your sys­tem, which is where its po­tency lies. “Fi­bre slows down the digestion and ab­sorp­tion of food, so you get steady en­ergy that lasts,” says Sarah Ro­mot­sky, direc­tor of health and well­ness of the In­ter­na­tional Food In­for­ma­tion Coun­cil Foun­da­tion in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. One way it may en­sure stamina is by boosting the pop­u­la­tion of a type of gut bac­te­ria that im­proves the way your body han­dles sugar, re­search pub­lished in the jour­nal Cell Me­tab­o­lism shows. A bet­ter work­out isn’t the only ben­e­fit from the rough stuff. Check out the three other important ways your body uses fi­bre to stay healthy, slim, and strong.

TORCH MORE FAT AND CALO­RIES

Fi­bre revs up your me­tab­o­lism. Women who sub­sti­tute high­fi­bre grains for refined ones have a higher rest­ing meta­bolic rate, which means they burn more calo­ries through­out the day, ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Nu­tri­tion.

This ef­fect is prob­a­bly due to the in­creased en­ergy your body has when it gets enough fi­bre, along with a steady blood sugar level, says study au­thor Su­san B. Roberts, a se­nior sci­en­tist at the USDA Hu­man Nu­tri­tion Re­search Cen­ter on Ag­ing at Tufts Univer­sity, and the founder of the iDiet weight­loss pro­gramme.

Fi­bre is es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cial for keep­ing your weight healthy as it pro­duces short- chain fatty acids when it’s bro­ken down by your gut bac­te­ria, says Wendy Dahl, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in food sci­ence and hu­man nu­tri­tion at the Univer­sity of Florida. These fatty acids help in­duce feel­ings of full­ness and keep your ap­petite in check.

One kind of fi­bre called re­sis­tant starch may ac­tu­ally in­crease the body’s abil­ity to burn fat, in­clud­ing belly fat, says Michael Keenan, a food sci­ence pro­fes­sor at Louisiana State Univer­sity.

It trig­gers a mech­a­nism that prompts your body to use fat in­stead of carbs for fuel. Eaten daily, foods with this starch – like beans, whole grains and cooked and cooled pota­toes, pasta, and rice (the cool­ing process makes them de­velop re­sis­tant starch) – can have a big im­pact.

KEEP YOUR BODY BAL­ANCED

If you’re pack­ing in a lot of post-work­out pro­tein to help build and main­tain mus­cle, fi­bre can be an important coun­ter­bal­ance, Wendy says. Con­sume too much pro­tein, and some of it may not be di­gested and will in­stead be bro­ken down by gut bac­te­ria, which cre­ates in­flam­ma­tion-caus­ing com­pounds, she ex­plains.

But when you eat enough fi­bre, it acts as a de­ter­rent. The bac­te­ria break it down in­stead, which pre­vents this harm­ful process. For best re­sults, make sure that at least some of your daily pro­tein comes from plant sources, like beans and peas, that con­tain plenty of fi­bre, Wendy says.

POWER UP

Fi­bre boosts the pop­u­la­tion of good gut bugs in the di­ges­tive tract, which re­search has linked to a bol­stered im­mune sys­tem and even a bet­ter mood, Wendy says. Your bones ben­e­fit, too. Cer­tain types of fi­bre, like chicory root, make it eas­ier for the body to ab­sorb mag­ne­sium and cal­cium, which are crit­i­cal for a strong frame.

A fi­bre-rich diet can even help ward off knee prob­lems. In a Bos­ton Univer­sity School of Medicine study, peo­ple who ate the most fi­bre were less likely than those who con­sumed less fi­bre to ex­pe­ri­ence wors­en­ing knee pain or de­velop painful os­teoarthri­tis later, prob­a­bly thanks to fi­bre’s an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory ben­e­fits.

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