It wasn't too long ago when the mention of fiber conjured thoughts of Metamucil and twiggy cereal. Roughage was a less than elegant topic for discussion. Suddenly fiber is the new black. Everyone is getting excited about increasing fiber, and we're talking about it. The American Dietetic Association recommends 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day, but most Americans only get 11 grams. Now there are new books available which can teach us how to increase our fiber content, and use it to our advantage to not only get healthier, but also lose weight. We took a look at two of the most recent books to hit the shelves - The F-Factor Diet and Fiber 35.
The F-Factor Diet: Discover the Secret to Permanent Weight Loss
The F-Factor Diet was written by Tanya Zuckerbrot, a Registered Dietitian and contributor to magazines such as Shape and Men's Fitness. Zuckerbrot believes low fat and low carb dieting led to lower fiber diets, but didn't lead to lasting weight loss. By following her plan, we can eat more carbs, fill up on fiber, have more energy, and lose weight.
The F-Factor diet encourages eating plenty of lean proteins, all the non-starchy vegetables you want, a limited amount of starches, and lots of fiber. Zuckerbrot frequently tells us that carbs are not the enemy and we should eat more of them. That's good news to most of us! The diet consists of 3 steps, or phases. Step One is a jump start and promises you can lose four to six pounds in two weeks. The goal in Step One is to consume 30 to 35 grams of fiber per day and 35 grams net carbohydrates. Wait, we thought this wasn't a low carb diet! The Atkins diet averages net carbs to 40 per day and that is pretty extreme to most dieters. Hang on to your lamb chops, there's a big difference between the Atkins plan and the F-Factor Diet.
On the F-Factor Diet, all non-starchy vegetables are free foods and you don't have to count the carbs towards your limit. Eat all the salad, asparagus, and tomatoes you want. You'll choose only lean sources of protein, unlike most low carb plans. You can have yogurt, milk, and fruit daily, but you'll count the carbs. You'll also count the carbs in high fiber cereal and other starches. Add up the carbs, then deduct the amount of fiber, and you'll end up with your net carbs. Obviously the higher the amount of fiber in your starches, then the more starches you'll be able to eat without going over your limit. Since you aren't even counting the carbs in your veggies, you'll really be eating many more carbs.
Step One limits you to 30 net carbs and lasts two weeks. Step Two increases the limit to 75 net carbs and also includes carbs like pasta! You'll still eat unlimited vegetables and plenty of lean proteins. You'll stay on Step Two until you reach your weight loss goal. Step Three is maintenance and like the maintenance portion of other diets, you'll increase your foods a little so you maintain your weight without losing anymore.
Zuckerbrot tells us that we will get all the fiber we need from the suggested menus and recipes, and we'll never have to take fiber supplements such as pills, drinks, or bars. She explains that when we get our fiber from foods, we benefit from the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that come along for the ride. She suggests high fiber GG Bran Cripsbreads if you do have problems getting enough fiber, but that shouldn't be a problem. We've heard the GG Bran Crispbreads aren't very good anyway.
The book is filled with menu samples and recipes to get you started and keep you going for a while. You'll find recipes for really good sounding dishes such as Banana French Toast, Pasta Bolognese, Macaroni and Cheese, and Breakfast Burritos. My only complaint is that the plan doesn't seem very vegetarian friendly.
Exercise is very important to this diet plan, and suggestions include both cardio and weight training. However, we wish there had been more instruction, including a workout plan. The chapter on exercise seems too short.
Overall, the F-Factor Diet sounds very reasonable, balanced, and delicious enough to keep you interested. If you are looking for a new approach to dieting, or a good instruction book on increasing fiber, the F-Factor Diet may be for you.
We also read Fiber 35, a new book by Brenda Watson. This book has made quite a splash, especially in the health food stores where it's sold next to a whole line of Fiber 35 supplements. We had a few problems with this book.
The Fiber35 Diet: Nature's Weight Loss Secret
Fiber 35 also recommends 35 grams of fiber per day. The book provides recipes and menu plans, with suggestions for getting some of your daily fiber naturally from the foods you eat. However, we are also instructed to buy special fiber bars and shakes to supplement our diets. Phase 1 of the Fiber35 Diet requires two each of the bars and shakes per day, and one each during Phase 2. She doesn't specify her own products by name, but it's pretty obvious that she wants us to buy Fiber 35 products. For example, she says : The high fiber bars you'll want to use will ideally contain 10 grams of fiber from milled flaxseeds, oat fiber, and acacia; and 10 grams of protein from whey protein concentrate. Look for a bar that is sweetened with dates, raisins, and agave syrup and comes in a variety of flavors. She may as well have told us to also look for bars in a yellow, green, and purple wrapper with the Fiber35 logo. We searched and couldn't find any other fiber bars that fit this description than her own products. She also recommends shakes, wafers, clear fiber supplements, and bulk fiber supplements with just as careful descriptions. You won't have any problems finding them at your health food store. They are stacked up right next to the Fiber35 books. To be fair, we did buy one of the bars and it tasted pretty good. Kind of like fruitcake. It also cost almost $2.50. I can buy a whole box of delicious Fiber One Honey Clusters for $3.50 and each serving contains more fiber than a Fiber35 bar.
The book and fiber products hit the shelves at the same time. It almost appears as if the book was written just to push sales of the fiber supplements. We really preferred the approach by the F-Factor, encouraging us to get our fiber from our food. This wasn't our only problem with Fiber35. A good portion of the book discusses toxins and encourages us to detox with her colon cleanse product. Oh boy. If you are not already familiar with this, the idea of toxins is not valid. It's a scare tactic designed to sell bogus products. Our bodies are naturally cleansing, and we do not accumulate toxins. The author of this book is a practicing colon hydrotherapist, so she pushes the idea of detoxing and colonics. The biggest names in the health industry tell us to ignore detox mumbo-jumbo.
An episode of the news program 20/20 discussed the idea that toxins built up in our bodies and we needed to detox to get rid of them. They interviewed Dr. Robert Kushner of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, Dr. Donald Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Dr. Harlan Krumholz and Dr. David Katz from Yale Medical School. All said that the idea that we needed to detox was ridiculous.
On an episode of Oprah, Dr. Mehmet Oz said "I don't believe in colonics. If you eat the right foods, it will leave your body in half a day anyway." He said all we need to do is eat enough fiber and drink plenty of water. Our body does the rest.
Fiber35 makes a decent attempt to include exercise in the program, but comes up short. Several exercises are described that use resistance bands. Watson says we only need 30 minutes of cardio three times per week. Current guidelines tell us that we need a MINIMUM of 30 minutes (and probably closer to 60) of cardio 5 times per week if we want to lose weight.
We can't find any reason to recommend the Fiber35 Diet book.