By: Tatiana Britton
Most of us have been told the importance of caloric intake regarding weight loss, gain and maintenance as well as how tracking macros can improve your body composition. However, something that isn’t talked about enough is fiber intake! I get it, with fiber intake discussion opens the door to talk about perhaps some uncomfortable territory. Despite the uncomfortable aspect of it, fiber intake is tremendously important for gastrointestinal health, cardiovascular health, maintenance and prevention of Type II Diabetes and prevention of obesity.
Foods that are rich in fiber are typically low in fat and keep you fuller longer. This means you can eat less volume of food and still be full of it, thus resulting in less calories in. It just makes sense! If you are eating foods rich in fiber, that fill you up faster and longer, you are less likely to overeat and gain unhealthy weight gain. Diets rich in fiber can also help reduce cholesterol levels which leads to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Whole grains, as I will dive into later, are amazing fiber sources and they also have antioxidants that assist in the prevention of heart disease as well. Studies performed on those with high fiber diets versus low fiber diets show a lower incidence of Type II Diabetes. This may have to do with the fact that fiber is a complex carbohydrate that delays glucose uptake and steadies out glucose response which then results in a positive effect on diabetes risk. To save the most uncomfortable for last, diets rich in fiber tremendously and positively affect the gastrointestinal tract. Fiber creates bulk in stool which helps with proper GI tract function; in layman’s terms it helps you with regularity! This means prevention of constipation, hemorrhoids and lower risk of diverticulitis.
Now that you know all the amazing
benefits of a high fiber diet, it is now important that you know how much you
need to take in daily and what foods are good sources of fiber. The American
Heart Association recommends 25-30 grams of fiber a day. It is best if this
amount comes from food sources as opposed to supplemental sources. Listed below
are foods that are rich in dietary fiber. If you are eating well balanced meals
and making mindful choices when eating, making the dietary fiber recommendation
will be an easy task. Plus, a lot of the foods listed below are not only
healthy choices but tasty ones, too!
Nuts & Seeds:
Whole wheat breads
As with mostly anything, there can be too much of a good thing! Although the symptoms that result from excess fiber are not detrimental, they are uncomfortable to deal with. Too much fiber can result in hard and impacted stool IF water intake is not adequate, so ample hydration is important alongside fiber intake. Too quick of an increase of fiber can increase bloating and gas, so you want to ensure that you gradually increase your intake to avoid those intolerable and sometimes embarrassing symptoms. With fiber’s satiety benefits, it is also important to make sure that you get in adequate nutrients from other sources before you are too full. Otherwise, you may create other nutrient deficiencies as a result.
With this summary of the benefits of fiber, appropriate intakes and sources I challenge you to begin by tracking your current food intake for just one week, to see where you stand with your fiber consumption. You can track manually by writing in a food journal or you can use MyFitnessPal. If you are right on track, good for you! Keep it up! Maybe try even getting more creative with your fiber intake sources, by using some of the food groups listed above, if you are not eating them already. If you track your fiber and realize it is low, start by gradually adding one or two of the foods a day until you are comfortably meeting your fiber goals.