How to Get More Fiber
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
LifeTime WeightLoss in Anika DeCoster, Nutrition, do I need to use supplements, fiber

If someone asked you how much fiber you get in each day--or how much you’re supposed to get--would you know the answer? You probably know that fiber is important for your health, but if you’re like most Americans, you’re probably not getting enough. In my work with clients, I find that many don’t know which foods contain fiber. Others have a narrow, misguided understanding of fiber sources they absorbed over the years through food marketing claims. These clients often choose highly processed and unhealthy foods that emphasize fiber content on their packaging.  So, how much fiber do we really need, and what’s the best way to get that fiber in our diets?

How Much and Why?

Most people associate fiber with improved digestion and “regularity,” but it can also offer many other health benefits. It can improve your immune system, let you feel fuller longer, improve mineral absorption from foods, and enhance your body’s insulin response by slowing carbohydrate digestion. Because of these benefits, most nutritional professionals will recommend 25-35 grams of fiber each day for most adults. Yet, it’s been estimated over and again that American are getting far below that target, eating 15 grams or less. If you’re tracking your nutrition on myPlan, you’ll be able to see your average grams per day simply by logging your food. You can also estimate your fiber with this simple guide that roughly averages fiber content per serving of various foods.

How-To Tips

Now that you know why you need fiber and how much to shoot for, consider these strategies to help increase your daily intake.

Give Beans a Chance. One half cup can give you almost a third of your recommended daily intake! Add a serving of beans a few times each week to your meals to help boost your fiber intake. Consider including black beans in your morning eggs or chicken breast at night, add hummus to your lunch salad, or use it as a dip for a raw vegetable snack. 

Consider a California Mix. Broccoli, carrots and cauliflower happen to be some of the most fiber-rich vegetables out there. Buy them frozen, and add them to your meals or homemade soups. Alternatively, buy fresh, and eat them raw as a snack. Spinach, asparagus and tomatoes are also fiber rich and can easily be added to a variety of recipes to help supplement your daily fiber.

Eat the Peel. Fiber is concentrated in the skins of apples, potatoes and pears. Get the full benefit by eating the whole food. 

Flax it. We talked about the benefits of using flaxseed as a way to supplement your healthy fat intake, but 1 tablespoon can give you 3 grams of fiber as well! Sprinkle a tablespoon or two each day into your protein shake or over your salads and other foods.

Skip the Cereal Aisle. Food marketing makes it easy to choose foods that gloat about fiber content per serving, but--believe me--the negative health impact of overeating processed foods far outweighs the supplemental fiber they’ve added to the product to make it appear healthy. Not to mention, these food products often use artificial fiber (e.g. inulin) that can cause major digestive issues. If you want a cereal, stick to raw and natural oats from the bulk food section of the grocery store, and pair it with your morning veggie-egg scramble, or add it to your protein shake.

Take it slowly. You might be tempted to maximize fiber’s benefits for satiety and blood sugars, but it’s best not to rush it. If you’re far from the recommended amount of fiber, don’t bump up your intake too quickly! Drastically increasing your fiber intake in a short time period can cause unwanted digestive issues. Be sure to step up your fiber gradually over time, and drink plenty of water (at least 64 ounces a day) as you do.

Supplement. If you follow a lower-carbohydrate diet, it’s possible you’ve reduced your fiber intake. If you’re logging your fiber and having a hard time getting in enough vegetables and fruit to reach the optimal gram intake, consider supplementation. But fair warning: many of the supplemental powders and bars on the market are made from lower quality fiber sources that often cause digestive distress. Our D.TOX Kit contains a fiber supplement called FiberMend, which members have shared is effective for them and gentle on their bodies. 

Questions? Thoughts? Have you changed your fiber intake (amount or sources) since beginning your weight loss journey? Share your comments below!

Written by Anika DeCoster – Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.



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