Get your 💩 together. Eat more fiber.

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Ryan Day Coaching

Yep, that’s what fiber will do for you. Solid and regular, baby.

OK I’m done.

Today, we’re unraveling the wonders of a nutrient that often doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves but plays a crucial role in our overall well-being: Fiber.

Fiber is often forgotten in the nutrient world. It doesn’t get the flashy attention that protein or healthy fats might, but make no mistake – it’s a powerhouse for your health.

What is Fiber?

Simply put, fiber is the indigestible part of plant-based foods. While your body can’t break it down, it plays a vital role in keeping things running smoothly inside.

Fiber is also part of the carbohydrate family, which is why you’ll see it listed with carbs on nutrition labels. Contrary to popular belief though, fiber is technically not calorie-free; it has around 2 calories per gram (compared to “regular” carbs, which have 4 calories per gram).

Some food labels will lead you to believe that net carbs are the only thing that matters, but if you’re tracking food and want the best information – track fiber and total carbs (not net carbs).

Fiber can also be separated into two types: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble Fiber

This type dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance. It’s found in oats, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Soluble fiber has been shown to help control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.

Insoluble Fiber

This type adds bulk to your stool and aids in digestion. You can find it in whole grains, nuts, and vegetables. Insoluble fiber keeps your digestive system healthy and prevents constipation.

Why Fiber Matters

Most people think of digestive health when they think about fiber, but that’s not all this stuff does.

Digestive and Gut Health

Fiber promotes a healthy digestive system. It keeps things moving, preventing constipation and ensuring a smooth journey for the food you consume.

It also serves as the primary source of fuel to the TRILLIONS of microorganisms and probiotics within your gut. Feeding these probiotics with the right prebiotics (aka fiber) promotes a thriving gut, which has been shown to improve immunity and even mental health! Who knew?!

Blood Sugar Balance

Soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugar, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage their weight.

Heart Health

Fiber has been shown to be great for maintaining or improving heart health. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol, which can lower your LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), reducing the risk of heart disease. Pretty cool.

Weight Management

If you’re on a journey to shed a few pounds or maintain a healthy weight, fiber is your ally. High-fiber foods are often lower in calories, and they keep you feeling full longer, curbing those between-meal cravings. Aside from the other benefits listed above, this is one of the main reasons most of my clients start out by increasing protein and fiber – it’s tough to overeat other stuff if you’re filling up with high-fiber and high-protein foods!

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

Now that you know all of fiber’s benefits, let’s talk numbers.

The daily recommended intake varies by age and gender, but a general guideline is a minimum of 14 grams per 1000 calories. If you’re not sure how many calories you eat in a day, shoot for 25g if you’re a woman and 38g if you’re a dude.

Most people fall well short of these numbers because it requires eating more fruits and vegetables than people are used to. We also get misled by food packages, which are allowed to claim that a food is a “good source” of fiber if it has 2.5g per serving.

Fiber-Rich Foods

Here are some foods that are actually high-fiber and can help you get to your number.

Berries

My favorite. Whether it’s blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries, these little gems are not only bursting with flavor but also loaded with fiber. Per cup, blackberries have 8g, raspberries have 8g, and blueberries have 3.5g.

Legumes

Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are excellent sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Add them to soups, salads, or as a side dish. Black beans have 15g per cup, lentils have 8g per cooked cup, and chickpeas have 10g per cup.

Whole Grains

Opt for whole grains like oats and quinoa. These grains are rich in fiber and provide a nice complement to your meals. Oats have 5g of fiber per uncooked half cup, and quinoa has 5g of fiber per cooked cup. (Also – I’ve mentioned before that I eat the same oatmeal concoction for breakfast every day, so I’ve listed out everything that goes in it at the bottom of this.)

Vegetables

Broccoli (5g), carrots (4g), artichokes (7g), brussels sprouts (6g), sweet potatoes (6g), avocado (7g, and yes this is technically a fruit but whatever, who are you, the fruit police?).

Aiming to eat three servings each of fruits and vegetables every day will go a long way in getting you to your fiber goal in addition to giving you a diverse range of micronutrients to help you look and feel your best.

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds (3.5g/oz) and chia seeds (3.5g/tbsp) are easy ways to get a little extra fiber in your day. In fact, they’re included in my oatmeal every morning (at the bottom).

Easy Tips to Boost Your Fiber Intake

If you’re looking to up your fiber game, here are some simple tricks:

Start Slow

Gradually increase your fiber intake to give your digestive system time to adjust. Or just go right for the number, but be ready to be a little bloated or gassy the first couple days.

High-Fiber Snacks

Choose fiber-rich snacks like fresh fruit, veggies with hummus, or a handful of nuts. You’re also less likely to overeat your snacks if you choose high-fiber ones, so this is a win-win.

Read Labels

Check food labels for fiber content. Don’t believe what the front of the package tells you – verify for yourself how much fiber is in a serving.

Stay Hydrated

Fiber loves water. Drink plenty of fluids to help fiber do its job in keeping things moving smoothly.

My Favorite Breakfast

Without further ado, here’s the oatmeal recipe I’ve used to start my day for years.

  • ½ cup of oats (Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats are the best tasting oats I’ve found)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • 28g unflavored whey protein powder
  • ½ cup Fairlife whole milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ⅓ cup frozen blueberries
  • 40g almonds
  • ½ c raspberries or blackberries

Mix up the first six ingredients, microwave for 3 minutes, mix in the honey and frozen blueberries, top with almonds and other berries. Done!

Macros: 725 calories; 48g protein; 30g fat; 70g carbs; 19g fiber