New research suggests that simply eating more fibre could improve weight loss, thereby reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests that increasing the level of fibre in one’s diet is an easy to follow and effective way of aiding weight loss, and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study
The researchers selected 240 adults who were at risk of type 2 diabetes. Half of the participants followed the high-fibre diet, and the other half followed the American Heart Association (AHA) diet, which is generally considered difficult to follow. Both groups were chosen at random.
The only instruction given to the high-fibre group was to increase the amount of fibre in their diet by 30g a day. The AHA diet stipulated:
Limiting calories
Eating at least 30g of fibre every day
Eating more lean proteins
Consuming less salt and sugar
Avoiding alcohol, preferably altogether
Specific ratios of fat, protein, cholesterol, and carbohydrate balance
The study lasted for a year. During that year, those on the AHA diet lost an average of 6lbs, while the high-fibre group lost 4.6. Everyone who participated in the study had lower blood pressure, better insulin resistance, and improved levels of fasting insulin, suggesting that their risk of developing type 2 diabetes was lower.
What do the results suggest?
Both diets, therefore, improved weight loss and reduced the risk of metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes. And yet one diet is significantly easier to follow.
Barbara Olendzki, assistant professor of medicine and co-investigator in the study said, “A high-fibre diet can be filling and tasty, making it a pleasure to eat while losing weight and improving health and well-being.”
Dr. Yunsheng Ma, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Preventive and Behavioural Medicine at the University of Massachusetts said, “We were encouraged to see the decline of fasting insulin in the high-fibre group at 12 months. Long-term improvements in insulin resistance have significant clinical implications for patients with metabolic syndrome.
“The more complex AHA diet resulted in slightly larger (but not statistically significant) weight loss, but a simplified approach emphasising only increased fibre intake may be a reasonable alternative for individuals who find it difficult adhering to a more complicated diet.”
High-fibre diets: a great way to lose weight
Although the study focused on a diet recommended by an American organisation (the AHA), the findings have universal significant. Complex diets can be difficult to follow, but this research suggests that a simple increase of 30g of fibre intake can make huge differences to weight loss and metabolic health, potentially decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Sherry Pagoto, PhD, associate professor of medicine and co-investigator on the study said, “We found that increasing dietary fibre was accompanied by a host of other healthy dietary changes, like because high-fibre foods displaced unhealthy foods in the diet.
“Asking people to make one dietary change can have collateral effects on the rest of their diet. We hope to study this further.”

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