When people ask me about their diet – whether it’s “good” or “optimal” – one of the first things I ask them is how much fiber are they getting throughout the day. The majority of the time, they can’t tell me. They have either no clue, don’t count, or don’t intentionally count it. They can, however, tell me how much protein, fat, and carbohydrates they eat every day. So when I ask them why they don’t worry about their fiber intake, they think I’m crazy. First let’s talk about the types of fiber:
This attracts water and forms a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Soluble fibers can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol. *
These are considered gut-healthy fiber because they have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. This type of fiber doesn’t dissolve in water, and passes through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact. This speeds up the passage of food and waste through your gut.* Also, there is a school of thought out there that since your body cannot digest these fibers, they do not, in fact, require calories to be metabolized. Zero calorie food?!? Well, that’s just great isn’t it!!?
Now do you see why fiber is so important in any style of diet? Most of the sources of these fibers (greens, starches, QUEST BARS!!!) will help counter-balance the acidity of a high protein diet that most of us tend to favor as well.
Diet Hint: Do you ever treat yourself to a cheat: something high glycemic with the capacity to shoot your blood sugar through the roof? Well, try eating half of a Quest Bar first, drinking a large glass of water and wait 10 minutes. This will do a couple of things:
- They taste awesome and might satisfy your sweet tooth in the first place!
- Still want that treat? Well, by putting in 8+ grams of fiber, you have effectively placed a buffer in your stomach now to reduce the impact on your blood sugar!
- The fiber in the bar will have expanded in your stomach and will at least help prevent you from eating as much of that chocolate covered diet killer you still have your eye on!