Fiber is an important part of any diet, especially those on a high protein diet who need to ensure their macros are being absorbed and waste is moving through on a regular schedule. Fiber is unique in that it isn’t absorbed like protein, carbs, or fats, its usefulness rests in the fact that it doesn’t break down during the digestion process.
Fiber comes from a variety of sources:
- Plant based – Beans, Grains, Fruits, and Vegetables
- Seeds – Sunflower, Pumpkin, Flax, Hemp and Salba
- Nuts – Just about every nut contains some amounts of fiber
By choosing the right kind of fiber you can not only eat more, without adding or increasing calories, but you add many health benefits, such as:
- Lower cholesterol
- Decrease risk of colon cancer
- Decrease heart disease
- Help regulate blood sugar
Most adults need between 20 – 35 g of fiber each day, but remember, build up your fiber consumption slowly over time, allowing your body to adjust. Fiber acts like a sponge, so it will absorb water, which, if added too quickly, will have some negative side effects such as bloating, cramps and gas – not what you need when you’re looking to put in a solid workout at the gym. In short, you can overdo a good thing when it comes to too much fiber too quickly.
Dietary fiber comes in two basic formats, soluble or insoluble. Both are an important part of a healthy balanced diet, but each has a different function to perform.
Soluble fiber, by definition, is a fiber which dissolves in water. These fibers attract water to form a “gel” which has multiple benefits; First, it slows digestion giving you the feeling of being “full” longer, and second, by slowing digestion sugars are released to the blood stream at a slower rate which is beneficial for controlling insulin spikes, particularly important for diabetics (and bodybuilders looking to regulate insulin at certain times of the day, such as in the early morning). Soluble fiber is also notably effective at controlling “LDL”, or bad cholesterol, by interfering with its absorption rate.
Sources: Oats, oat bran, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, flaxseeds, barley, psyllium, oranges, apples and carrots.
Insoluble fiber is considered the “roughage” type of fiber. Unlike its counterpart, insoluble fiber stays in relatively the same form in which it was consumed, thus adding bulk that helps to push food through the digestive tract, creating regular bowel movements. This type of fiber is particularly important for those are on a high protein diet.
Sources: Whole grains, whole wheat, corn, seeds, the cabbage family, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, onions, tomatoes, raisins, grapes, fruit, cucumber and zucchini skins, and root vegetable skins.
And there you have it, a breakdown of the two main types of fiber and their sources. Make sure to get your 20 – 35 g daily and it’ll be smooth sailing!