What is fiber? Fiber is a non-digestible form of complex carbohydrates that cannot be broken into sugar molecules, and passes through the intestinal tract intact.
The average american only gets about 15g or less of fiber per day. I was one of those Americans. After I started tracking I realized I was only eating an average of 11g per day! No wonder I felt like losing fat was especially hard for my body and my bowel movements weren’t as frequent as they should be (TMI). Once I started making sure I got the recommended 25g-35g I have had significant less bloating, less flatulence, my bowel movements are more frequent, and I have had increased fat loss because of it. Increasing your fiber intake will also help balance your gut microbiome and increase the biodiversity, also helping your metabolism and weight management.
Benefits of fiber:
- aids in digestion
- regulated blood sugar
- aids in weight management
- helps cholesterol
- weight loss and weight management
- life longevity
- suggested to decrease risk of cancer
- reduces risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulitis (infection and/ or inflammation in the digestive tract)
Types of Fiber:
Soluble Fiber: dissolves in water and turns into a gel like substance. Shown to decrease blood sugar and cholesterol.
Insoluble Fiber: Does not dissolve and remains mostly intact. Speeds up and aids the digestive system. Makes fecal matter pass more easily.
One of the most surprising things to me about fiber is that in a carbohydrate that has fiber, you actually subtract the fiber from the carbohydrate to get the total net carbs. For example if oatmeal has 34g of carbohydrates and 10g of dietary fiber, your total carbohydrates are 24g. If you happen to be tracking your macros just know that most apps will not calculate the total net carbs from fiber for you, so you will have to do it manually.
Low Fiber Diet:
- lower diversity in gut microbiome
- poor digestion
- weight gain
- higher risk for cardiovascular disease
- poor blood sugar
What happens if you get too much fiber?
- abdominal cramps
Tips on increasing fiber intake:
- When you start to increase your fiber intake, make sure you are slowing increasing it . It is recommended that you increase it by 5g every two weeks. When you add fiber into your diet too quickly you may have symptoms of gas, bloating, and abdominal cramps.
- when increasing fiber intake, you also need to increase your water consumption. Fiber depends on water. Soluble fiber absorbs water and turns into a gel like substance. It enables food to leave the stomach slower to help you feel full longer. During that process it prevents spikes in blood sugar and lowers cholesterol. Insoluble fiber does not absorb water, but traps it from you intestine and carries the moisture to your fecal matter to prevent constipation. If you are not consuming enough water with fiber, you will be at risk for dehydration.
- I would recommend getting most (if not all) your fiber from food because your body does not absorb it as well when it comes from supplements. If you have to take a fiber supplement, make sure you take it with 8 oz of water. It can swell up in your throat and cause you to choke… so don’t forget water.
- The USDA recommends that with the correct fiber intake, you need to be drinking at least 8 glasses a day or 64 oz. (you probably should be drinking that much anyway because of everything it does for your cells and body)
What is YOUR recommended amount of FIBER?
Last but not least the foods I eat that are high fiber are high fiber oatmeal, blueberries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, bananas, beans, air popped popcorn, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, nuts etc.
The right amount of fiber in your diet will help you in more ways in one and has made me feel better than I did before! Good luck!
Remember to enter in your email address and subscribe to get updates when new posts are up! 🙂