More Fiber in Foods

By Laura Moncur @ 6:00 pm — Filed under:

This entry comments on the increasing trend of fiber being added to all sorts of foods, from yogurt to candy bars.

I think this trend in the food industry was originally spawned by the Atkin’s Net Carb thing. There was the idea that if carbohydrates were countered with fiber that they caused less of an insulin spike. Because of this idea, lots of products showed up on the market with added fiber, including candy bars and yogurt.

I think there is also an incentive to increase the fiber levels of typically fiber-lacking foods in order to lower the Weight Watcher Points values of food. The Weight Watcher Points system is a calculation based on the fat, fiber and calorie content of foods. Increased fiber, lowers the Points value. In order to play upon the popularity of Weight Watchers, food manufacturers are adding fiber to food. Weight Watchers is not the innocent victim in this game either, though. If you look at their food products, they are unusually high in fiber content as well.

In cases like these, it is always better to eat homemade food. A dinner made by you with fresh ingredients will always be more healthy than a frozen dinner. When you are choosing convenience, make sure you look at the label and try to find the products with the least amount of ingredients and the healthiest mix of carbohydrates and fat. Don’t be fooled by added fiber. It doesn’t necessarily make the food more healthy for you, even if the Net Carbs or WW Points are less.


4 Responses to “More Fiber in Foods”

  1. Mark Says:

    Interesting point about Weight Watchers and how adding fiber would decrease the POINTS. This kind of “gaming the system” occurred with Atkins. In the early days the low-carb, high-protein food that was available was not the sort of stuff that people binged on, so Atkins dieters would feel naturally full from the protein and not feel the compulsion to overeat. When the food industry reverse engineered the way that net carbs were computed and started using food engineering tricks to design junk food like ice cream and cookies from the ground up so it would have low net carbs, then the Atkins diet became less effective, because people had binge food that didn’t technically break the rules. And a lot of the food substituted fat for carbs, which increased the calories.

    With WW, the same sort of thing will happen, since weight loss is calorie-dependent, but two foods can have the same number of POINTS but different calories depending on the fiber.

    As you say, making your own food is best, and if you need to eat a treat, just eat it (in moderation) and take the calorie/POINTS hit. You’ll save money by not buying the special added-fiber stuff anyway.

  2. Kristine Says:

    Although it seems that the latest incarnation of WW looks at the fiber on something of a sliding scale with fiber over a certain amount (like 4 grams a serving or so) reducing points less and less overall much like the exercise points seem to do something similar now (I “did” WW at Home once upon a time around 2000 or so, but in actuality I just read the books, played with the calculator and wrote down my foods for about a week and then gave up.) with the exercise points giving a fairly easy 2 points, but to get more than that you really have to put in a major workout.

  3. Laura Moncur Says:

    You’re right. Four grams of fiber is the maximum reduction of the Points that the WW plan allows, so there is only so much food companies can add to really change the Points value of their products.

    The problem I’m having is that I don’t think the added fiber is really healthy. It feels like the added protein in cereals like Kashi. Sure it’s there, but it doesn’t really make me feel any more full.

    I want my foods as close as they can come to natural. There’s no fiber in milk when it comes out of the cow, so I don’t want any fiber in my yogurt. Plus, the yogurt without the added fiber is cheaper.

  4. Kate Says:

    OMG- Why can’t I count more than 4 fiber grams if I eat a bowl of plain lentils? 1/4 cup dry has 11 grams of fiber and it’s 100% natural??? I just don’t understand it?

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