Let's talk about fiber, okay, class? Yes, let us discuss (or, as I like to say, "lettuce").
Who Needs Fiber?
- trying to lose weight?
- trying to maintain your current weight?
- trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
- trying to reduce your risk of disease?
- trying to keep your blood sugar stable?
Fiber can help you lose weight or maintain your current weight by keeping you... ehem... "regular" and improving your metabolism while also helping you feel FULL!
Fiber is also known to decrease risk of disease, help you steady your blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol! So, why not add some to your diet? What have you got to lose? :)
There are two types of fiber: Soluble and Insoluble. Each type has its own benefits to your system!
Soluble v. Insoluble: A Tale of Two Fibers...
The soluble fibers dissolve in water (pretty easy to remember if you can remember back to your high school science classes). Soluble fibers are great for lowering cholesterol and thereby lowering your risk of heart disease. Yay!
You've probably seen the Cheerio boxes (and other cereals high in soluble fibers) boasting of "Heart Healthy" ingredients. That's the soluble fiber they're talking about!
Soluble fiber is found in beans, peas, lentils, oatmeal, oat bran, nuts, seeds, psyllium, apples, pears, strawberries, and blueberries.*
And then, my friends, there is insoluble fiber. As you may have guessed, based on the description of soluble fibers as fiber that dissolves in water, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Now, the tale of two fibers is not akin to the tale of two carbs (you know how there are "good" carbs and "bad" carbs?). Instead, they're both good. Great, actually. For different reasons.
Foods that are high in insoluble fiber aid in digestion. It gets you moving. Darn it, it makes you poop. Yes. I did just say poop on my blog. Get over it. Pooping is good for you! Err. I mean insoluble fiber. It keeps your metabolism moving and can save you from colon cancer.
Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, wheat bran, nuts, seeds, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, nuts, grapes, and tomatoes.*
Both kinds of fiber are great for keeping you full for longer than other foods, which helps curb your appetite and dissuade you from over-eating.
How much do you need?
Women need 25 Grams. Men need 38.*
How do you get it?
Beans, grains, seeds, fruits, vegetables!
Your best bets: lettuce, dark leafy greens, broccoli, okra, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, potatoes, corn, snap beans, asparagus, cabbage, whole wheat pasta, popcorn, nuts, raisins, pears, strawberries, oranges, bananas, blueberries, mangoes, and apples.*
Some of us are avoiding a few of the best "high-fiber) foods... for example, because I follow a revised paleolithic nutrition plan, I'm trying to avoid most grains, which knocks out cereals and grains as a means by which to ingest fiber (though some Fiber One cereals contain at least half of the daily dose of fiber in one serving!). As a result, I've turned to black beans, chia seeds and flax seeds, and a never ending supply of berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries) and seeds like Chia Seeds and Flax Seeds.
Additions and Supplements:
Metamucil - no, it's not just for your grandparents. Metamucil is a fiber supplement that can be stirred into water. I generally buy the orange-flavored kind and drink a glass 3 times a day, which can knock out about 35-40% of your daily fiber needs.
Flaxseed Meal - throw it into batter for cupcakes, pancakes, cookies, etc... or add it to protein shakes.
Chia Seeds - similar to flaxseed, chia seeds are easily added to baking batter and protein shakes. They are also delicious in pudding!
Whole Wheat Flax Waffles or Pancakes
91 Calorie Berry Protein Muffins
Protein Fiber Meal Cookies
Banana Nut Muffins
Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Web MD: How Much Fiber