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Diet

Why More Fiber And Less Meat?

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Making one change to your diet by adding more fiber can be as good for weight loss as a more complicated change of both diet and exercise. According to the results published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the University of Massachusetts Medical School used 240 volunteers in a study separated into two groups. All of the volunteers had metabolic syndrome at the beginning of the research meaning they had high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and were overweight.

Why Including Fiber In Your Diet Is Good for Weight Loss

Group One followed the American Heart Association’s recommendations of eating more fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods, fish and lean protein in their diet, while cutting back on salt, sugar, fat and alcohol. Group Two’s only change was to add fiber to their diet. As far as fiber, each group ate about 19 grams daily. Exercise was not added to either group’s recommendation.

At the end of the study, both groups lowered their blood pressure, improved their response to insulin and lost weight. Group One lost 5.9 pounds on average while Group Two lost 4.6 pounds. Both groups were able to maintain their weight loss for the 12 months.

What is significant about the study results is the weight loss between the two groups was not all that different proving that by just adding fiber to a diet, weight loss is possible without making any other dietary changes. And if weight is lost, it reduces the risk of other health issues such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes – some of which can be life-threatening.

While it is possible to add fiber to a diet through fiber-fortified foods like breakfast cereals, cookies and crackers, fiber from whole foods is better (for several reasons). Use a goal of 20 to 25 grams of fiber per day. Because fiber can cause bloating and gas, increase your daily fiber content gradually, thus giving your body some time to adjust to the increase of fiber.

Good sources of natural fiber include beans and lentils, whole grains, seeds and nuts, and fruits and vegetables.  Beans and lentils are particularly beneficial as they are not only a good source of fiber, but also lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

Adding fiber to your diet from the above sources is also a great start to a healthy diet. By eating fiber-rich foods, you will stay fuller longer, thus reducing your desire to snack on unhealthy foods between meals, and you’ll reduce your intake of refined grains, salt, sugar and saturated fats and increase unsaturated fats – all of which work toward improving your health.

Why You Should Go Meat Free One Day Per Week

The trend to go meat-free one day per week all started with the Meatless Mondays campaign back in 2011 as a response to the Healthy People 2010 report. In that report, it suggested that people reduce their intake of saturated fat by 15%.

Going meat-free one day per week meets that goal and in the process improves your health and reduces your carbon footprint on Mother Earth.

Health Benefits

From the health aspect, eating vegetarian 1/7th of the time can help you lose weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, along with reducing the risk of heart disease, colorectal cancer and Type 2 diabetes.  According to a study from Harvard of 440,000 participants, eating 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving of red meat increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 19%; a 1.8 ounce (50 gram) serving of processed meat increases that risk by 51% in addition to increasing the risk of heart disease by 42%.

The Plant Protein Advantage

One of great debates surrounding meat free diets is the difference in protein between eating vegetarian or meat. And the debate can be valid as some plant protein is not complete, meaning it doesn’t contain all of the essential amino acids as does meat. In the case of vegetarians, they usually make up the difference with supplements or by eating other food sources having the missing amino acids.

But a few plant-based protein sources are complete. One such one is quinoa; others include buckwheat, chia and soy. To show the advantage of plant protein, let’s compare a 1-cup serving of shredded beef and the same of quinoa. The beef has 348 calories, 23 grams of fat of which 9 grams are saturated and 105 mg of cholesterol. Making the same comparison of quinoa, it has 625 calories, 31 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat of which 1.2 grams is saturated and 0mg of cholesterol.

Reducing Carbon Footprint

It takes a lot of resources to raise farm animals used for meat.  For example, it takes 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water to raise one pound of beef. It only takes 39 gallons to produce a pound of vegetables. A simpler example is that by reducing our consumption of meat by 20% would have the same effect as switching from a gas-powered vehicle to a hybrid.

Regardless if you decide to go meatless on Monday (or any other day of the week for that matter) for health or environmental reasons, you can help out both by doing so. And who knows, you might decide to eat less or no meat on other days of the week too.

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