If you’re looking for secret diet hacks for weight loss, bloating, lowering cholesterol and the like, then look no further! There are thousands of dieting hacks that are not backed by science, but we’ve got one that even registered dietitians can get behind: Fiber!
What is fiber? We’ll lay it out for you in this article. You’ll also get an overview of why fiber is so great, where to get fiber and how much we need per day. So, if you have been wondering how fiber can help you, this is the article to read!
What is fiber?
Fiber is a nutrient that we get from certain foods (to see which foods, jump down to the tips below). There are 2 main types of fiber, and each has specific duties that can help a variety of functions.
Types of Fiber
|Soluble Fiber||Insoluble Fiber|
|Soluble fiber forms a gel in your digestive tract. Having this gel can help your stool become soft and easy to pass. We get soluble fiber mostly from the pulp and fleshy parts of fruits and vegetables.||Insoluble fiber doesn’t change much from when it goes in to when it comes out. We get insoluble fiber from plant stalks, fruit skins and other parts that are indigestible. Insoluble fiber is great for adding bulk to your stool, giving you the urge to go and the satisfaction of emptiness when you do.|
What are the benefits of fiber?
We mentioned a few benefits of each type of fiber above, but here’s a more complete list of fiber benefits (and why you should have fiber in your diet):
- Helps keep things moving well in your gut
- Adds bulk to stool (for more satisfying bowel movements)
- Makes stool soft and formed
- Can help you have more frequent and regular bowel movements
- Helps you feel full during your meal and for several hours after (to avoid early hunger)
- Makes your meals more satisfying for less calories (great for weight loss)
- Can help reduce cholesterol
- May help control blood sugar spikes associated with meals and snacks
- Feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut
How much fiber do I need?
There are different ways to determine how much fiber you need in a day. Check out the information below from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
Recommended Fiber Intake
|Adult Women||25 grams of fiber per day|
|Adult Men||38 grams of fiber per day|
|Alternative Calculation||14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories that you eat|
Regardless of which method you use to determine your fiber needs, strive to get fiber at every meal and snack. Let’s take a look below at several tips for adding more fiber into your diet.
How to Get More Fiber in My Diet
Now that you know the benefits of fiber and how much you need in a day, here are several tips on how to get more fiber in your diet:
Tip #1: Look for fiber on the Nutrition Facts label.
On the back of nearly every packaged food item, you will see the “Nutrition Facts” label. This label provides valuable information about calories, fat, protein and other nutrients that are in that food item. You can find how much fiber is in that food too!
To find fiber on the Nutrition Facts label, look under “Total Carbohydrates” and find “Dietary Fiber.” A high fiber food is one that has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. You can use the Nutrition Facts label to help you tally how much fiber you have eaten that day.
Tip #2: Find fiber in fruit.
Fresh fruit, dried fruit and plain frozen fruit are great ways to get fiber. We can get soluble fiber from the pulp of a pineapple or the flesh of a pear (to name a few). We can get insoluble fiber from the skin of an apple or the fuzzy skin of kiwifruit (yes, that’s edible).
Tip #3: Find fiber in vegetables.
Need a reason to eat more veggies? Veggies are loaded with fiber as well! Vegetables give us soluble and insoluble fiber. Try to make half of your plate vegetables to win at the fiber game.
Tip #4: Find fiber in whole grains and starches.
We also get fiber in our grains (i.e. bread, pasta, cereal) and starchy vegetables (i.e. potatoes, corn, peas). When choosing grains, try to make at least half of your grains “whole grains,” since whole grains have more fiber than refined grains. If you are eating potatoes, try to eat the skins as well for added fiber.
Tip #5: Find fiber in nuts, seeds and legumes.
Nuts, seeds and legumes are great ways to boost your fiber intake. We particularly love these Planter’s Deluxe Mixed Nuts. With 2 grams of fiber per 1-ounce serving, have these nuts as a snack or use them as a topping to your meals.
Tip #6: Try fiber-based products.
There are tons of fiber products out there to help you reach your fiber goals. While it is best to get fiber from whole foods in an overall healthy diet, here are some great fiber products when you need them:
- Flavored or unflavored fiber powder supplements (like this Benefiber Fiber Power)
- Fiber snack bars like these 90-calorie Fiber One bars
- Fiber capsule medications (you can get them over-the-counter or prescribed)
Even though you could arguably get all of your daily fiber from the fiber supplement items listed above, fiber from food sources can give you different types of fiber and many other benefits that these fiber products cannot. Use these fiber supplements on occasion when you can’t get enough fiber from food.
Before You Go Fiber Crazy
Now, you may want to immediately get as much fiber as possible! Fiber is great for hunger, health and weight management! So, the more fiber the better, right?
While we should all get the recommended amount of daily fiber, there can be problems when we get too much or increase our fiber too quickly. If you have yet to meet your daily fiber goals, be sure to slowly increase the amount of fiber foods you are eating over time. Otherwise, you may experience gas, bloating and constipation. Also, those who eat excessive amounts of fiber may experience these issues.
Aside from slowly increasing your fiber intake over time, make sure you also drink enough water. Water will help your stools stay soft. Too much fiber with not enough water can cause hard stools and constipation.
Want more helpful digestive information? Click here for more information about things you can do for a healthy gut.