High-Fiber Diet Has Its Drawbacks

High-fiber weight-loss diets which prescribe unlimited amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains may help shed pounds, but they are frequently low in valuable nutrients like protein, calcium and iron, says a registered dietitian with the American Heart Assn. and the Dairy Council of California.

“Protein, calcium and iron are generally found in dairy products or meat group foods--foods that are often eliminated or underemphasized in high-fiber diets,” said Judith Levine, an RD in San Francisco.

Levine pointed out that weight watchers can enjoy the benefits of fiber without sacrificing important nutrients if they incorporate fiber-rich foods into a balanced diet.

Supplying Needed Nutrients


A daily diet plan consisting of two servings of low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese; two servings of lean meat, fish, poultry or legumes; four servings of fruits and vegetables and four servings of whole grain breads and cereals will supply 1,200 to 1,400 calories. This plan includes 20 to 25 grams of fiber and all the nutrients necessary to stay healthy and active.

“Adding large amounts of pure fiber, such as bran, to foods can result in dehydration and digestive tract problems,” Levine said.

“Dieters can avoid unpleasant side effects by gradually adding fiber foods to the diet and drinking plenty of fluids.”

Low-Calorie Choices


Need some ideas for meals high in fiber and calcium, but low in calories? Try a Mexican quesadilla made with a whole-wheat tortilla, low-fat mozzarella cheese and green chiles. For breakfast, try a whole-grain waffle topped with a dollop of low-fat or nonfat yogurt, or have a bowl of bran cereal, fruit and milk.

The following menu plan shows dieters how fiber can be incorporated into a low-calorie balanced diet:

Breakfast, Fiber Content

1 small banana, 2 grams.


2/3 cup corn flakes, 2 grams.

2 slices whole-wheat bread, 4 grams.

1 tablespoon butter or margarine.

1 cup low-fat milk.



Lunch, Fiber Content

Sandwich with 2 slices whole-wheat bread, 2 ounces sliced turkey, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, as desired, and lettuce. 4 grams.

1 medium peach, 1 cup milk. 2 grams.


Dinner, Fiber Content

3 ounces broiled fish, 1 medium baked potato with skin, 4 grams.

1/2 cup cooked carrots, 2 grams.

1 cup lettuce and tomato salad, 2 grams.


1 cup low-fat milk

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, as desired.

Evening Snack, Fiber Content

1/2 cup strawberries, 2 grams.


Total Grams, 24.

Total Calories, 1,400.