Saturday, January 23, 2016

Fabulous Fiber

What is fiber?  Why care about it?  
What benefits are there from it?  
Does it even matter?

I never heard of fiber until 2003 when I joined Weight Watchers again. Their point system was partially determined by the number of fiber grams in a food item.  The higher the fiber, the more likely the points would be less.  I never really understood it and did not care about it until recently.

I want to be clear.  I am not a nutritionist, so I can only attest to what the research says and what I have seen to be true from my own experience.  (You can check my facts on your own to see if I am right.). What I know is that fiber is good.  It helps you to "go" (if you know what I mean).  With the increase in protein in my diet, constipation has become a perpetual problem.  There, I said it!  That's ANOTHER thing no one tells you about weight loss!  (I should write a Part Three to that series.)

So, what is fiber?  Fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods.  There are two different types of fiber, both of which aid in digestion. A diet rich in fiber promotes heart health, healthy glucose levels (blood sugar), as well as multiple other health benefits.  According to the Institute of Medicine, the recommended daily intake (RDI) of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.  However, most studies show that American's get less than half that in their daily diet.

How do you know if you're getting in enough fiber?  Because I track my calories, I can see how much fiber I am getting each day with MyFitnessPal.  In addition to tracking calories and macros, it tracks all nutrients, I can also see how much fiber is included in my daily nutrition.  In looking back over the past week, I was at or over my RDI for fiber every day except one.   I meet my fiber goals without really thinking about it because I eat so much fiber rich food.

When you are grocery shopping and planning your meals, give some consideration to the fiber content in what you buy.  The fiber content of foods you buy is included on the nutritional information, so look at that when making your choices.  Here is a list of fiber rich foods you want to keep on hand:

Foods Rich In Fiber

Beans/ legumes: 
kidney beans, black beans, white beans, garbanzo beans (AKA chick peas), lentils
(Black beans are my favorite!)

Whole grains: 
barley, brown rice, oatmeal and whole wheat, including whole grain pastas, breads and cereals

broccoli, corn, edamame beans, artichoke, peas (especially split peas)
I LOVE artichokes, but I always thought they were "bad" because the ones I buy are canned.  220 mg of sodium is a lot.  But in looking at this label again, what a fantastic addition to my salad today!!!
avocado, raspberries, apples and pears (with the skin on)

Nuts and Seeds:
almonds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seed

Other Fiber Rich Foods

Fiber One has a whole line of products with fiber, from cereals, bars, breads, and baked goods to pudding and cottage cheese.

Quest Bars are loaded with not only protein, but fiber as well.

Kashi makes an entire line of foods including cereals, waffles and frozen entrees.

Fiber Supplements
Despite a fiber rich diet, some people need to take supplements to help keep them regulated.  Products such as Benefiber and Metamucil are often recommended.
I have to take Metamucil every day even though I meet the RDI for fiber, I need this to help  keep me regulated.

As with all foods, you want to be aware of all the nutritional information.  How many calories does this food have?  How much fat?  Carbohydrates?  Protein?  Sugar?  A fiber rich diet will help you to manage hunger better, as it fills you up.  But if you are eating a bar in place of natural food, the sugar in the bar could actually make you hungry sooner.  I buy Fiber One bars for my husband because he likes a quick snack on the go.  But they leave me hungry and wanting more, so I avoid them.

You'll be surprised at the fiber content in foods you eat every day.  Foods you wouldn't even think have fiber...
I like Oikos Triple Zero, but I totally take for granted that it has 6 grams of fiber.  That's pretty fantastic!

Fiber is fantastic!!!!  It is fabulous!!!  Add some black beans (or chick peas) to your salad today!

Here are links to other posts where I discuss nutrition.  They are worth a second (or first) view if you are serious about flexible dieting as an option.

Carbs:   The first in a two-part series dedicated to carbs.  What are they?  Why do we need them?

Carbs 2 Part two.  WHY are carbs such a struggle?  What's good?  What's better?  What's best when consumed sparingly?

Successful Secrets:  Two simple strategies I practice every day which helped me to lose weight and to now keep it off.

Successful Secrets: Part Two:  How planning my week's meals helps me to stay on track.  Menu and recipe ideas.

Nutrition 101, I talk about meal prep and provided you with several recipes and meal suggestions to get you started.  Check it out!

Flexible Dieting Basics:  A basic explanation of flexible tracking calories and macronutrients has been the most successful way for me to lose weight and keep it off.

Tracking Calories with MFP:  Some features of MyFitnessPal (MFP) explained.  This post has some tricks of the trade.

Foods to Try:  These are foods I try to always keep on hand and a couple recipes too.

Cravings:  Some tips on how to stave off and handle cravings when they hit.  

Wonder Woman:  I explain how I got the nickname "Wonder Woman" by tracking all my calories and macronutrients.  I give a brief explanation of macros here.

A Calorie is Not a Calorie:  This post talks about the different effect foods have on you.

Questions for you: 
(Answer in the comment section below.)
Do you read nutrition labels?  What's the first thing you think of when you hear the word fiber?

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