This is apart of micro-series of blogs that serves to educate you on all other macronutrients, check the other out here:
What Is Fiber?
Fiber, the macro notorious for helping you take good poops, but it’s so much more than that. Fiber is extremely important to your body for its overall health and for you on your fat loss journey. Before we get into the “why’s” of Fiber though, let’s start by defining what it is:
Fiber (fi-ber) — dietary material containing substances such as cellulose, lignin, and pectin, that are resistant to the action of digestive enzymes.
Basically, fiber is a type of carbohydrate most commonly found in fruits, veggies, and whole grains that doesn’t get digested.
You read that right, your body doesn’t digest the fiber that you eat! So, how can something that doesn’t even get digested be beneficial for you?
Here are just a few reasons why you should be adding more fiber to your diet:
1. Fiber Helps You Lose Weight:
The reason that might make you start adding fiber to your diet the quickest. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that when dieters took at least 30 grams of fiber on a daily basis, they lost weight when all other parameters remained the same. They lost as much weight as another group that followed a more rigid diet which involved reducing calories, sugar, and salt intake while increasing consumption of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Foods that are rich in fiber are not only more satiating (help you feel full), but they also bind with the fat and sugar molecules in other foods you consume to reduce the total number of calories that you consume every day. In fact, assuming all other variables are equated for, taking in 30 grams of fiber every day could theoretically help you reduce your weight by 9 to 13 pounds every year.
2. Fiber Helps Keep Weight Off Over Time:
One of the most alarming stats I have read to date is that ~85% of people that have lost over 20 pounds will end up gaining it back AND MORE within 2 years.This comes as a result of diet culture and the over restrictive behaviors that are so often advertised. This leads to short bouts of rapid weight loss followed by rebounding back to the old habits that led to weight gain in the first place (if this sounds all too familiar, I’m on a mission to stop this from happening).
Recent studies at the Medical University of South Carolina and Georgia State University proved that taking in more fiber can help you stay leaner. Thus, consuming more fiber can help you resist weight gain when done consistently.
3. Fiber Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
It is well known that the more fiber you consume, the less is the risk of Type 2 diabetes. A recent meta-analysis of 19 studies, revealed that people who ate more than 26 grams of fiber a day reduced their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 18 percent, when compared to those who consumed less than 19 grams of fiber daily. The researchers attributed this to the fact that fibers not only keep blood sugar levels steady but also help reduce the weight as obesity is another risk factor for diabetes.
4. Fiber Reduces Risk of Cardiac Disease.
A review of 22 studies that were published in the British Medical Journal found that for every 7 grams of fiber consumed every day, a person’s risk of cardiac disease decreases by 9 percent. That is because fiber easily binds to the excess cholesterol in the blood and removes it from the body.
5. Fiber Fosters More Good Bacteria in the Gut.
Remember how I mentioned fiber doesn’t get digested? That’s because the good bacteria in our gut feed off fiber and flourish. This leads to an increased production of short-chain fatty acids which can lower systemic inflammation. It is this inflammation that causes a host of health issues like arthritis and IBS.
Your gut microbiome is vital for all kinds of functions in your body including metabolic, thyroid, and cognitive to name a few. Managing the inflammation in your gut and cultivating a healthy gut environment is the key is to consume fiber consistently in order to reap the benefits.
6. Fiber Reduces Risk of Certain Cancers.
Every 10 grams of fiber that you consume reduces your risk for colo-rectal cancer by 10 percent and for breast cancer by 5 percent, according to a study published in the Annals of Oncology. Foods that contain fiber like vegetables and fruits are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals which again reduce your risk of cancer.
7. Fiber Reduces Constipation
Constipation is embarrassing to talk about but it is a common issue. Fiber makes bowel movements softer, bulkier and more regular. It also reduces daily bloating from pro-inflammatory foods.
8. Fiber Helps Detox.
Now, I HATE using the word “Detox” to describe the benefits of foods ever since the “Detox Tea” industry has taken over. Taking in more fiber helps your body detox by promoting the elimination of toxins from your G.I. tract. Soluble fiber absorbs potentially harmful compounds, like excess estrogen and unhealthy fats before they are absorbed by the body.
Insoluble fiber compliments this by speeding up the movement of food through the digestive tract, thus limiting the amount of time that chemicals like BPA, mercury and pesticides stay in your system.
9. Fiber Boosts Bone Health
Some types of soluble fiber—generally referred to as “prebiotics” which are a specific form of dietary fiber that act as a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut which can be found in foods like asparagus, leeks, wheat and oats—have been shown to increase the bio-availability of minerals like calcium in the foods you eat, which may help maintain bone density. Basically, these soluble fibers are the Uber Drivers of the micro-nutrient world.
How Much Fiber Should You Eat?
The average American consumes roughly 15g of Fiber daily which is WAY below the general recommended amount. While the specific amount you should eat is completely individual, a good rule of thumb to follow is to consume at 15-20g of fiber for every 1000 calories that you consume.
So if you have a standard 2000 calorie diet, you should be aiming to have 30-40g of Fiber DAILY.
Now, this might sound like a lot, but I’ve taken the liberty of breaking this down for you so that it becomes realistically attainable for you on a daily basis.
Here are some sample foods you can incorporate into your meals to make sure that you’re hitting that fiber goal.
Example Meal 1:
Breakfast: 200g Bell Peppers (in eggs, etc.), 2 servings of gluten free oatmeal
Lunch: 200g zucchini, 125g Banana
Dinner: 200g green beans
Post Workout: 3 Organic Rice Cakes
Fiber Total: 45g
Example Meal 2:
Breakfast: 150g Bell Peppers (in eggs, etc.), 1 serving of gluten free oatmeal
Lunch: 150g zucchini, 125g Banana
Dinner: 150g green beans
Post Workout: 1 Organic Rice Cakes
Fiber Total: 29g
If that doesn’t sound like your style, here’s a list of 50 fiber-rich foods that you can mix and match to fit into your meals!
As you can see, getting in a serving of fruits, veggies, or whole grain food with each meal will get you to your fiber goal pretty easily.
Need help figuring out the perfect individualized nutrition prescription for you? Click Here to Apply For a FREE Strategy Call to get you on track to your goals!