Consuming efficient amounts of fiber can provide many health benefits, from disease prevention to weight loss. But how much fiber do you need per day in order to see any significant results?
In this article, we will be answering common questions around how much fiber you should be eating, and when to eat it. We will also reveal the easiest ways you can add more fiber to your diet to prevent deficiency.
Lets get started!
What Is Dietary Fiber And Why It Is Essential For Your Health?
Dietary fiber is a nutritional term that refers to parts in foods that cannot be digested when traveling through your digestive system. These parts will travel through your small intestine and colon, while still staying in-tact. Although it may not sound like fiber does much, it still plays a very important role when it comes to your overall well being.
Fiber can be classified into two types; soluble and insoluble fiber. To better understand the two, we listed the functions of both below.
This type of fiber can be dissolved in water and forms a gel-like compound as it travels through your digestive system. Soluble fiber helps to lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and glucose in your blood. LDL cholesterol is linked to heart disease and diabetes.
This type of fiber helps to improve bowel movements in your digestive system while promoting healthy bulk in your intestine. Consuming insoluble fiber can help prevent digestive problems such as constipation and abnormal stools.
Consuming sufficient amounts of fiber can provide multiple health benefits. These include:
The Daily Recommended Fiber Intake According To Science
According to Harvard University, the average person in North America only consumes between 10 to 15 grams of fiber daily, which is significantly less than the USDA’s recommendations.
The Institute of Medicine suggests that a single adult below the age of 50 should be consuming 25 grams of fiber if they are women, and 38 grams if they’re a man.
A recent study involving 4635 participants showed that in-taking sufficient amounts of fiber from sources such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can significantly reduce the risk of dying from heart disease and cancer. Individuals who consumed the most fiber had lowered their risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and stroke by 16 to 24 percent.
How Much Fiber Should I Eat For Weight Loss?
Fiber helps slow down digestion and increase bulk, which helps you stay fuller for longer. This helps to reduce the urge and desire to snack after meals, therefore helping you to consume fewer calories throughout the day.
Soluble fiber can also help you lose belly fat because it mixes better with water, allowing it to pass through your digestive system easier. On the other hand, insoluble fiber can stay in your intestines, and may even cause constipation, therefore adding to your overall weight.
A study also demonstrated how soluble fiber can also help prevent you from gaining belly fat long term. Increasing your daily intake by just 10 grams can lower the cause of belly gain by up to 3.7 percent.
So, how much fiber should you take for weight loss? Based on the research, adding another 5-10 grams of fiber on top of the recommended daily intake for both men and women will be enough to reduce appetite and lower belly gain.
So, the rule of thumb is 30 to 35 grams per day for women and 43 to 48 grams for men.
What Happens When I Eat Too Much Fiber?
Like anything, too much of anything is usually not good for you, this includes fiber. Taking too much fiber can cause many uncomfortable side effects, including; gas, bloating, stomach cramping, and constipation.
How Much Is Too Much?
An excessive amount of fiber is anything above 70 grams or more in both men and women.
Just because fiber is good for you, it doesn’t mean more is better. Sticking within the guidelines as suggested by the Institute of Medicine will provide you with all your body needs without the negative side effects.
Easy Ways To Get More Fiber In Your Diet
Are you not getting enough fiber? Here, we listed some easy ways you can add fiber to your diet.
Eat High Fiber Foods
One of the easiest ways you can add extra fiber to your diet is from whole foods such as veggies, seeds, and nuts. Not only do plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables contain sufficient amounts of fiber, but they also provide multiple health benefits that can help reduce various diseases and health problems long term.
Adding chia seeds to your meals can also give you a good boost of fiber. A single ounce of chia seed contains 11g of fiber, and also contains additional nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Alternatives to chia seeds can include flax or hemp seed, which are equally beneficial.
Here is a list of our top go-to foods that contain high amounts of fiber:
- Pears (5.5g per 1 cup )
- Strawberries (3 g per 1 cup)
- Avocado (10g per 1 cup)
- Chia seeds (11g per 1 Oz
- Oats (16 g per 1 Cup)
- Quinua (5.2g per 1 cup)
- Chickpeas (12g per 1 cup)
- Split Peas (16g per 1 cup)
- Kidney Beans (11g per 1 cup)
- Lentils (15.5g per 1 cup)
- Artichoke (10g per 1 cup)
- Beets (4g per 1 cup)
- Raspberries (8g per 1 cup)
Leave the Skin/Peel On Certain Fruits And Vegetables
Did you know that when you remove the skin of a skin/peel off of your fruits and vegetables, you are taking away almost half the fiber? Leaving the peel on foods such as cucumbers, apples, and pears can save up to 2-4g of fiber per cup.
Maybe you are struggling to eat whole foods that contain fiber, or you simply just want to increase your fiber intake without having to spend too much time prepping meals or shopping around. If this sounds like you, then supplementing can save you a ton of time and energy.
Choosing a good quality fiber supplement can also help you consume fewer calories since you are not so reliant on food as its main source. Supplementing can also make it much easier to track your daily intake, so you can have the peace of mind that you are getting enough.
However, supplementing fiber can have few downsides as well.
Some people may experience bloating because fiber supplements reduce the speed at which gas travels through the intestine. Secondly, fiber supplements may slow down the absorption of certain medication’s.
To prevent these two common problems, you can gradually ease into taking your fiber supplement by introducing them slowly in the beginning. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water before and after you take your supplement.
The Bottom Line
Fiber has many benefits when it comes to your health.
Understanding how much fiber you should consume daily and adjusting your diet can help you manage weight, prevent several diseases, and improve digestion.
Remember, do not overdo it. Stick to the recommended amounts suggested earlier in order to prevent negative side effects, and be sure to sustain a healthy balance of whole foods and supplements if you are going down the supplement route.