Is Supplemental Fiber Worth It?

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Fiber is a nutrient that gets a lot of attention from nutritionists – and deservedly so! It’s a nutrient responsible for everything from regulating your digestion to controlling your blood sugar and managing your cholesterol levels. It essentially feeds the good and healthy bacteria in our gut, promoting a healthy and flourishing microbiome.

Not only that, but fiber is also helpful when you’re trying to achieve weight loss. Due to its nature of being slowly digested, especially when compared to simple carbohydrates such as grains and sugars, it can promote longer-lasting satiety.

Fiber is abundantly found in fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fiber supplements are getting more and more popular among weight-loss enthusiasts. But a lot of nutrition pros can’t really agree on whether or not they’re as good as the real thing.

When you take, for example, a naturally occurring fiber source such as a fruit or a vegetable, you have a source of fiber that’s minimally processed. Foods with added fiber or those that supplement it altogether contain higher amounts of processed fibers. While research has long studied and proven the efficacy of fiber when it comes to weight management, research on whether or not processed fibers fit that same bill is scarce.

Naturally occurring fibers will always be your best bet. 

Whether you’re on a weight loss diet and you’re using fiber as a way to promote more satiety and a healthy gut microbiome, or you’re trying to gain weight and fiber is just a part of your overall macro intake, you will always want to focus on getting your fiber from natural sources such as beans, brown rice, nuts, fruits, veggies, etc. 

Fiber is coincidentally found in foods that are chock full of other vital nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and certain phytochemicals that bring immense health benefits to our bodies. If you’re trying to center your diet around certain healthy foods, you’ll have a much easier time losing weight and staying healthy overall. 

But there are exceptions to this rule…

When you cannot possibly get enough fiber through your diet alone (and let’s face it, that happens to a lot of people), a fiber supplement can be a useful replacement. One thing you should know, however, is that fiber supplements are usually related to a fair amount of stress on the GI system which can cause stress and discomfort. 

That’s why it’s vital that if you want to increase your fiber intake, you do that slowly and gradually instead of all at once. Supplements can help you make that transition to an overall healthier diet and lifestyle, though you can’t rely solely on them. If you want to get in more fiber through your diet, you have to focus on increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods in a way that’s sustainable toward your overall diet. 

How do we get more fiber in naturally and reap all the health benefits?

#1 If you’re going to use a supplement, choose the right one. 

Some people who have certain dietary restrictions or limitations may not be able to acquire all the natural fiber they need from whole foods. So if you’re one of the people who opt for a fiber supplement to ease your way into higher intakes, make sure you read the label twice and avoid any supplement that includes artificial flavors and colors.

#2 Spread your fiber throughout the day. 

If you can have a small-to-moderate amount of fiber as a meal or snack, you’ll not only be able to increase your fiber intake very easily, but you’ll also be promoting lasting energy, satiety, and stable blood sugar levels throughout your entire day. 

#3 Keep tracking your intake. 

If your ultimate goal is to lose weight, you should be aiming to get enough fiber every single day. This equates to about 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women, most of which ideally comes from plant-based sources. 

A supplement can be useful here, but if you’re not tracking your intake in any way, you’re probably not reaping all the benefits you could, and you’re likely either consuming too much or, most likely, too little.

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