At Core Training, we believe in following a flexible approach to dieting (a specific flexible approach being IIFYM – ‘If It Fits Your Macros), as doing so allows you to eat without ever feeling ‘restricted’, or as though certain foods are ‘off-limits’. However, this does not mean you should just fill up your macros and calories with ‘junk’ food or neglect your micronutrient and fibre intake – as these are both important for your overall health and wellbeing. Today we will be tackling Fibre specifically – how it should fit into your diet, and why it is important.
Let’s start off with a couple of facts about fibre…
How much fiber should one person have each day? Per 1000 calories, you want a minimum 15 grams of fibre per day. So for most of people, whose calories will fall between the 1000-2500 range, this equates to a minimum of 30 grams of fibre per day.
We should also be aware that there are two kinds of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre is the type of fibre that dissolves in water. It has shown to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, which consequentially helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluble fibre is the fibre that promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and helps increase stool bulk. However, all high fibre foods will contain both soluble and insoluble, so we don’t really need to about on the amount of each individual type of fibre, but rather just the overall amount.
Now, what about the benefits of Fibre?
The number one benefit of Fibre is that it helps with your bowel movements. Simply put, fibre adds bulk to your digestive tract and stool, allowing it pass more quickly through your intestines. It can also aid your bowel health by reducing the chance of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon.
Secondly, as Dr Hazel Wallace recently wrote about for Women’s health, « a diet high in fibre, according to the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, is also associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer. A large study published by the BMJ reviewed the current evidence and found that for every extra 7g a day of dietary fibre can reduce the risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease by 9%. Considering CVD is one of the biggest causes of death in the UK, adding 3 more servings of fruit and vegetables per day could potentially save a lot of lives. »1
A high fibre diet will also help lower your cholesterol levels, as soluble fiber may help to lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol. This goes hand in hand with reducing the risk of developing heart-health problems, as it reduces both blood pressure and inflammation.
Finally, a high fibre diet can also be beneficial in helping you to achieve a healthy weight, as high fibre foods tend to be more filling and satiating than low fibre foods. High fibre foods are also more likely to be less energy dense (have less overall calories per gram) – meaning you can eat a greater volume of food for the same, or lower, overall calorie intake. What both of these qualities mean in practical terms is that high fibre food and/or diets make over-eating harder, as they leave you feeling fuller more quickly and for longer. By having a high fibre diet, you are less likely to overeat, making it easier to either maintain your current body weight, or to lose weight.
With all this in mind, here are some top tips on how to get more fibre into your diet:
- Adding lentils, beans or chickpeas to your meals. E.g: substituting part of the meat in your curry for lentils would be a great way to add some fibre to your meal.
- Prioritise ‘whole food’ carb sources, such as potatoes, whole grains, vegetables fruits etc.
- Having a salad before your meal will help you to get a good chunk of fibre in, or by filling half your plate with vegetables at every meal.
- Choose high fibre snacks such as fruit or popcorn.
- Take a fibre supplement. For those who are struggling to eat their fibre it may be worth supplementing it into your diet.
- Eat chia seeds. They provide omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals, as well as 11 grams of fiber per ounce. These small seeds gel in water and are 95% insoluble fiber, which helps keep your digestive tract moving and is important for colon health. They are also linked to a lower risk of diabetes.
- Eat your fruits and vegetables - don’t just juice them! Whilst juices and smoothies are a great way to get plenty of micronutrients into your diet, they have far less fibre than eating the whole fruit/vegetable.
- Leave the peel on your fruit and vegetables. When you peel them, you tend to remove some of the fibre.
- Read the nutrition labels so you can pick the foodstuffs with higher amounts of fibre.
1. “A Dr. Highlights the unmissable benefits of fibre. Hazel Wallace, 11 Jun 2018. http://www.womenshealthmag.co.uk/nutrition/healthy-snacks/8583/dietary-fibre/#