By Gabe Sanders, PhD, NSCA-CSCS
Are you consuming an adequate amount of fiber? Maybe you are asking, “What is fiber?” or “What foods contain fiber”? Fiber is a carbohydrate that improves your digestive system in primarily three different ways. Fiber binds to and gets rid of harmful toxins, it lessens the amount of time food stays in your body, and it helps you feel full after a meal. If high cholesterol is a health concern, consuming an adequate amount of fiber along with exercising regularly will likely improve your total cholesterol because fiber will help lower your LDL’s (low density lipoproteins), which are considered the bad cholesterol.
Where can I find fiber?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, men should consume 38 grams of fiber per day and women should consume 25 grams per day. If you are not already tracking your daily fiber consumption, you should be! Although the recommended amounts for fiber consumption may seem low, adequate fiber consumption can be more difficult than you think if you are not consistently eating a balanced diet. Since fiber is a carbohydrate, it is abundant in foods like oats, beans, broccoli, avocados, apples (skins), and berries. If you are not consuming enough fiber in the foods that you eat on a daily basis, you may need to consider supplementing your diet with a source of fiber. I suggest any type of sugar free or unflavored psyllium seed husk supplement (Metamucil™ or off- brand). A single serving of this type of supplement will contain 4-5 grams of fiber and is a good way to help increase your fiber intake. While fiber bars may seem like another good supplement since they contain adequate amounts of fiber, they also contain a lot of refined and processed sugars. Consult with your physician or medical healthcare provider for recommendations and nutritional guidelines that fit your specific needs.
How can I consume more fiber?
Here is one simple idea for increasing your fiber consumption without overhauling your eating habits. For starters, ground flaxseed has very little flavor and 2 tablespoons can be added to any of the following food choices to add 60 calories and 4 grams of a healthy source of fiber ( add to oatmeal, salads, or as a topping for lean meats).
To see recipes using ground flaxseed- look under Delicious Recipes
Centers for Disease Control.http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/index.html
McArdle WD, Katch FI, Katch VL. Sports and Exercise Nutrition, 4th edition. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2012.