Fiber. Why You Need To Be Adding It At Every Meal.
What fiber is:
Fiber is found in plant based foods. It’s the part of a carbohydrate that our bodies cannot breakdown and use for energy. Fiber is simply a passerby through the digestive tract. It picks up toxins along the way, feeds your good gut bacteria, adds bulk in your stomach so you feel full, and then exits the body with all the toxins and calories that stuck to it.
Carbohydrates-Fiber=Net Carbohydrates aka Blood Sugar!
To figure out how many grams of sugar a certain food will break down to, simply calculate net carbohydrates by subtracting fiber from total carbohydrates. Net carbs is the part of the carbohydrate that is digested and converted into blood sugar. Our bodies will use this glucose for energy or store as fat if there is excess.
For example, if you take a ½ cup of oats, that’s 27g total carbohydrates – 4 grams of fiber = 23 net carbs. That means 23g of net carbs will be converted to glucose.
How Fiber Aids in Weight Loss:
Nets carbs, aka glucose, in excess causes weight gain. Fat loss can only happen in the absence of glucose because your body will always choose to burn the glucose in your bloodstream first before it burns any stored fat for fuel. In other words, you burn fat in between meals once you’ve burned through all the glucose in your bloodstream. For example, this can happen when you’re sleeping, when you wake up and you’re in a fasted state, during a tough workout, or if you’re keeping net carbs low it can even happen between lunch and dinner.
If weight loss is a goal for you, lowering your net carbs can help. You don’t need to eliminate carbs completely, but you want to keep net carbs low enough to give your body a chance to burn its own fat for fuel at different points throughout a 24 hour period. Of course, it’s not a one size fits all model and the amount of net carbs someone needs varies. But, if you really want to jumpstart weight loss quickly, I recommend tracking your net carbs for a week and get familiar with different foods that may be helping or hurting your net carb and fiber goals. The app Cronometer makes it easy to track net carbs (my fitness pal only tracks total carbs). Obviously it varies from client to client, but keeping net carbs at or below 50g per day and perhaps even 75g if you’re doing high intensity exercise/lifting or tons of cardio is a range that I’ve seen facilitate speedy weight loss. Check out my fav low net carb/high fiber foods at the bottom!
All the Reasons Our Bodies LOVE Fiber:
Fiber acts as a prebiotic feeding your good gut bacteria and promoting proliferation which is the growth of good bacteria in the gut (happy gut=happy bodies and minds)
Fiber aids in detoxification – fiber is like a ball of double sided sticky tape attracting toxins and bad cholesterol particles in your body and leading them through the digestive track and out of the body through elimination.
Fiber slows the absorption of glucose (aka your blood sugar) keeping your energy levels, hunger, and mood more steady.
Studies link high fiber diets to longevity.
Fiber boosts your metabolism since it takes your body more energy to digest meals that include fiber allowing you to burn more calories just by adding fiber to your plate. The process of burning calories through digestion is called thermogenesis.
Fiber adds bulk to your food without adding calories making you feel fuller longer and keeping cravings for sugar and processed carbs at bay. Meanwhile it also can double your cholecystokinin production and increase Peptide YY, hormones related to appetite control and satiety.
Helps protect the colon lining by the production of short chain fatty acids called butyrate, which reduces the risk of inflammation and inflammatory diseases like IBS, cancer, and heart disease.
How Much Fiber Do I Need?
Women should aim for 25 – 35 grams per day according to the Institute of Medicine.
I know that sounds like a lot considering many of us are lucky to get 15g, but it is possible with the right foods and hydration! With proper hydration, fiber will not bloat you or constipate you. Increase your fiber consumption slowly and drink plenty of water to avoid any constipation or bloating.
My Favourite Sources of High Fiber Lower Carb Foods:
Because I like to maintain my weight and keep my blood sugar, hunger levels, and mood balanced, it won’t surprise you that I like low net carb sources of fiber! Here are a few winners to consider adding to your plate:
Broccoli – 2.5 grams fiber and 3 net carbs in ½ cups of cooked chopped broccoli
Celery – 3.2 grams of fibers and 1.8 net carbs for 5 medium stalks
Cauliflower – 1.4 grams fiber and 1.1 net carbs for ½ cup cooked and chopped
Cabbage – 2 grams of fiber and 3.2 net carbs for 1 cup of chopped raw cabbage
Artichoke – 1.5 grams of fiber and 1.6 net carbs for 1 artichoke heart
Cucumber – 1.6 grams of fiber and 3.4 net carbs for 1 cup of chopped cucumber
Asparagus – 2.1 grams of fiber and 2.2 net carbs for 7 medium cooked spears
Brussel sprouts – 5.8 grams of fiber and 9.9 net carbs for 1 cup of cooked brussel sprouts
Green Beans – 2 grams of fiber and 2.9 net carbs for ½ cup cooked green beans
Eggplant – 1.25 grams of fiber and 3 net carbs for ½ cup cooked
Bell peppers – 2.4 grams fiber and 4.6 net carbs for one medium raw bell pepper
Leafy greens like spinach and kale – 0.7 grams of fibers and 0.4 net carbs for 1 cup of raw spinach, 0.6 grams of fibers and 0.8 net carbs for 1 cup of raw kale
Zucchini - 1 gram of fiber for 1.6 net carbs for one small zucchini
Cinnamon – 1.4 grams of fiber and .7 net carbs for 1 tsp
Avocado - 7.8 grams of fibers and 2.1 net carbs for ½ cup of mashed avo
Cacao nibs - 4.5 grams of fibers and 0.5 net carbs for 1 tablespoon of cacao nibs
Coconut - 0.8 grams of fibers and 0.4 net carbs for 1 tablespoon of coconut flakes
Tahini or sesame seeds – 1.4 grams of fiber for 1.8 net carbs for 1 tablespoon of tahini
Chia seeds – 3.4 grams of fibers and 0.8 net carbs for 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
Ground flax seeds – 1.5 grams of fibers and 0.5 net carbs for 1 tablespoon of ground flax
Acacia fiber – 6 grams of fiber and 0 net carbs for one tablespoon of acacia fiber
Almonds – 1.5 grams of fibers and 1.1 net carbs for 10 almonds
Lentils - 2.9 grams of fibers and 7.1 net carbs for ¼ cup of cooked lentils
Chickpeas - 3.1 grams of fibers and 8.1 net carbs for ¼ cup of cooked chickpeas
Black beans - 4.5 grams of fiber and 6.7 net carbs for ¼ cup of cooked black beans
Up your fiber intake and see how it positively effects your appetite, health and even skin!