If you missed parts 1 to 3 of the supplement series, designed to bust some supplement misconceptions, save you money, and get you faster fat loss and greater muscle gains, you can check them out here before we get on fiber –
Part 1 – Post-Workout Supplements
Part 2 – Magnesium
Part 3 – Omega-3
Now, on to today’s supplement.
You might just be surprised by this one …
We do get it in food – it’s a type of carbohydrate that isn’t fully absorbed by the body. Hence, it does aid digestion by adding bulk to your body’s waste products, or “help you poop” as she so eloquently put it.
But it’s not just useful for that – it does an awful lot more too, and that’s why you might just want to think about supplementing your diet with a little extra.
The 2 types of fiber
It comes in two forms – soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fiber is partially digestible and dissolves in water – it tends to be this type that’s associated with the health benefits fiber brings, such as an improved cholesterol profile.
- Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve, and it’s this that aids digestion, helping to push the waste matter through your system.
Fiber has no calories!
Well – not quite.
But it plays a massive role in your daily calorie burn.
While the exact numbers will differ depending on the types of it you eat, and the overall composition of your diet, you don’t digest all the calories in fiber.
In fact, your body only takes in around 50% of the calories, meaning that while fiber calories will usually be listed on food packaging as 4 calories per gram (the same as other forms of carbohydrate) your body only ingests 2 calories per gram, or thereabouts.
When you think in terms of other macronutrients, this puts the thermic effect of it right up there.
Generally, we think of protein having the highest thermic effect (at around 25%, meaning protein’s “real” calorie content is 3 calories per gram, instead of the quoted 4) but fiber beats even this.
There are very few illnesses, diseases, and conditions that don’t have a beneficial effect.
Look at studies on heart disease, blood pressure, cholesterol, and cancer (particularly bowel and colon cancer) and you’ll see a massive correlation between two things –
- A low fiber intake being a contributory factor to higher rates of these
- A high fiber intake is a contributory factor to lower rates of these
While scientific studies and evidence can never “prove” anything unequivocally, the weight of the research certainly points to more fiber being fantastic for overall health.
Additionally, from an anecdotal standpoint, I’ve noticed with myself, and the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with over the years, that upping it intake has led to –
- Less bloating
- Drastically decreased GI stress
- Faster fat loss
- Increased satiety
- Fewer craving
Where to find fiber
Just like any other supplement, the key ingredients and compounds in this supplement are derived originally from food sources, which means that fibrous foods like green vegetables, beans and legumes, fruits and whole grains should certainly makeup part of your diet and contribute to your daily fiber intake.
However, it might not always be possible to get adequate fiber from your diet alone.
Let’s look at a case study.
We’ll take a client of mine – Peter, who we found was far better suited to a lower-carb, higher-fat diet.
His daily calorie intake for fat loss was 2,200 calories.
We set his protein at 200 grams (800 calories) fats were at 90 grams (810 calories) leaving him just 590 calories, or 147.5 grams of carbohydrate.
Yet, on his calorie intake of 2,200, we’d ideally have had him eating at least 30 grams of fiber per day.
The typical recommendations for fiber from the USDA and American Heart Associations are around 12 grams per 1,000 calories, but I prefer clients to achieve closer to 14 grams per 1,000 calories, if not more.
While Peter could have managed to get his 30g+ through his diet alone, that would have meant that his only carb sources could have been fibrous ones.
Seeing as even high-fiber foods only contain around one-quarter to one-third of their carbs from fiber (take pinto beans at 45 grams of carbs and 15 grams of fiber per cup, or a standard apple at 3 grams of fiber, but 17 grams of total carbohydrate, for instance) you can see how to get his 30g quota, Peter would have had to be stuffing his face with foods like this to hit that amount yet stay within his total carb intake.
So, to make things easier, and allow him to have more low-fiber foods (white rice, some sugary fruits, or the odd “treat” and so on) we introduced a supplement to his diet.
These supplements have a much higher percentage than any food, meaning you get a whole whack of “the good stuff” without too many additional carbs.
This leads us to our final section.
Fiber Supplements: How Much Do You Need?
There isn’t a set amount you need.
It really does come down to a few things –
- How much fiber you’re looking to hit on a daily basis (A very minimum of 12g per 1,000 calories, if not closer to 15g.)
- How much you’re able to get from foods.
- Your total daily calorie, carb, and macronutrient intake.
- How well you tolerate fiber. (Some folk bloat more easily from a high intake.)
How you should take supplements
Find a fiber supplement derived from a blend of sources, as this reduces the chances of GI stress, and add in as much as is needed per day to hit your targets.
You still need those high-fiber foods, and if you’re on a high carb intake and bulking, you may not even need to touch a fiber supplement, but for dieters and low-carbs, it can be a life-saver.
Always have these supp or two on hand in your kitchen cabinet for those days when you’re liable to fall a little short.
Contact OBF Gyms for a complimentary assessment to get started with one of our trainers today!