Believe it or not, it is possible to lose weight rapidly by eating delicious, filling foods that will keep you satisfied all day long. How? By ensuring your meals and snacks are rich in fiber. (Most Americans are only getting a fraction of the daily recommended 25-38 grams.) Yes, the same nutrient associated with keeping us "regular" is also a powerful hunger zapper. By filling you up for fewer calories and slowing the rate at which you digest, fiber-filled fare will keep you satiated longer, which can significantly aid weight loss efforts.
Not sure which foods are filled with the nutrient? Fear not! Below, you'll find some of the best sources, ranked in order from the least nutrient-dense to the most potent. Head to the grocery store and stock up on these items to keep your bod healthy and trim.
Fiber Payout: 2.8 grams per tablespoon
A mere tablespoon of these ultra-powerful seeds serves up nearly three grams of belly-filling fiber for just 55 calories. Not bad! Not to mention, flaxseeds are the richest plant source of omega-3 fats, which help reduce inflammation, ward off mood swings and help prevent heart disease and diabetes. Flaxseeds have a pretty low smoke point, so we don't recommend cooking with them, but they make a welcome crunchy addition to smoothies, salad dressings and yogurt.
Fiber Payout: 3.5 grams per ounce (about 28 nuts)
One ounce of this nutritious nut contains 15 percent of of the day's fiber! What's more, almonds are a good source of magnesium and iron, nutrients most people don't get enough of. To incorporate them into your diet, throw them into your yogurt and oatmeal or eat them solo as a hunger-banishing snack.
Fiber Payout: 7.4 grams in four large fruits
While figs may be best known for their inclusion in the famous Fig Newton cookies, you'll have to eat the whole fruit if you want to add more fiber to your diet. Try chopping up fresh figs and adding them to oatmeal or Greek yogurt with some honey, cinnamon and slivered almonds. Alternatively, you can eat them whole as a quick, on-the-go snack to satisfy your sweet tooth. Four of them will cost you 189 calories.
Fiber Payout: 7.6 grams per cup
These antioxidant-rich berries not only help ward off disease, but also pack more fiber than most other fruits. Not to mention, every cup of blackberries contains fifty percent of the day's vitamin C, a nutrient that can help lower cholesterol levels and boost heart health. Sprinkle them over your morning oats, add them to salads, blend them into smoothies or eat them plain to reap the benefits.
Fiber Payout: 8.1 grams per cup
Don't care for tofu? Turn to soy in its purest form! Aside from their high fiber content, these beans are rich in energy-boosting B-vitamins, essential amino acids and hunger-busting protein. Experts say the best time to munch on lightly salted edamame is after a tough workout. Its unique nutrient profile helps replenish energy stores and the sodium will help to replace lost electrolytes.
Fiber Payout: 8.2 grams per cup
If you want to incorporate more fiber and whole wheat into your home cooking but you're sick of rice and quinoa, bulgur is your solution. It's one of the most-fibrous pantry staples you can find and perfect for putting together nutritious side dishes on the fly. To make a simple tabbouleh—a staple of Mediterranean cooking—simply combine the bulgur with lots of chopped parsley, garlic, diced tomatoes, and a little olive oil and lemon juice.
Baked Acorn Squash
Fiber Payout: 9 grams per cup, cubed
Besides serving up a third of the day's fiber, a one-cup serving of this highly nutritious, naturally sweet veggie contains 30 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. The body uses the nutrient to form muscle and blood vessels, and it can even boost the fat-burning effects of exercise, according to Arizona State University researchers. For a simple—yet sweet— side dish, halve an acorn squash, scoop out the seeds and add a little butter, cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup. Bake for about an hour at 400 degrees F.
Fiber Payout: 9.8 grams per cup, sliced
Avocados not only pack a good dose of fiber, but also contain more bloat-banishing potassium than a banana! This well-rounded fruit is also rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin K, a nutrient that helps build strong bones. Reap the benefits by throwing a few slices onto your afternoon salad or sandwich. The combination of fiber and fat is sure to keep you satiated until supper.
Fiber Payout: 14.4 grams per cup, cooked
This antioxidant-rich veggie takes forever to prepare fresh, so we suggest opting for the canned or jarred variety. (Just be sure to rinse off the artichokes if they have been swimming in added sodium.) With 14 grams of fiber for a mere 89 calories, this vegetable makes a light yet filling addition to pastas and salads that will leave you satiated for hours!
Cooked Navy Beans
Fiber Payout: 19 grams per cup
They're yummy, cheap and loaded with hunger-busting fiber and 15 grams of muscle-building protein. What could be a better weight loss food than that? Add them to soups and chilies or serve them on sprouted whole grain toast mixed with some olive oil, rosemary and garlic as a hearty snack.
Unprocessed Wheat Bran
Fiber Payout: 28 grams per cup
Low in calories, high in muscle-building protein and overflowing with bloat-banishing fiber, wheat bran is definitely a nutritional champion. Made from the dense, outer hull of wheat grains, this slimming snack adds a sweet, nutty flavor to homemade muffins, waffles, pancakes and breads. It also makes a good addition to hot and cold cereals. If you're really trying to boost your dietary fiber, consume it solo, porridge-style, with a sprinkling of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.