One of the things that disturbs me the most about low-fat, no-fat, low-carb, no-carb diets is that they focus on what you shouldn’t eat. There are some “high protein” diets out there, but they also focus a great deal of energy on what you shouldn’t eat.
I’d like to discuss fiber, something you SHOULD eat, in high quantity. The low-carb community often glosses over how vitally important fiber is, because fiber is – you guessed it – a carbohydrate. And that was one of my biggest issues with the low-carb craze (which has, thankfully, fallen out of favor), is that it focused on cutting out the very foods you need the most, such as fruits and vegetables!
A high-fiber diet offers so many health benefits, it’s almost hard to know where to begin. First, fiber give you the feeling of being full. Also, when you eat a high-fiber meal, the food is digested slowly, which has two benefits: first, you won’t feel hungry again for a while, and it gives your body a constant supply of the fuel it needs until your next meal – giving you more energy. (this is also useful for diabetics!) Eating a high fiber diet with items such as fruits and vegetables also ensures that you are eating more low-calorie foods in place of high-calorie fattening foods. A high-fiber diet reduces the instance of constipation and helps to lower cholesterol. Most high-fiber foods are also loaded in anti-oxidants, which will help protect you against cancer and heart disease, among others.
There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can be found in apples, beans, beets, carrots, cranberries, grapefruit, oat bran, oranges, peaches, pears, prunes, etc. Insoluble fiber can be found in nuts, whole-grain breads, fruits and vegetables that have a skin, peanuts, and wheat bran.
If you’re keeping track of your calories, and feel the urge for a snack, there is nothing better than to grab a piece of fruit instead of a piece of candy. You’ll get to eat more food, take in less calories doing it, and you’ll get another serving of fiber in your diet. Plus, many fruits and vegetables have a catabolic effect in that it requires many calories in order to digest them, so the calorie hit to your diet is minimal!
The average American takes in far less fiber than is optimal. You should get a minimum of 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
BE CAREFUL not to add too much fiber into your diet immediately. You must slowly introduce it to your diet, and work your way up to your daily goal. Otherwise you will experience cramps, flatulance, or bloating. That could get ugly fast! And, to reiterate – please drink plenty of water as you increase your fiber, to help “move things along.”
My favorite high-fiber snack is a Granny Smith apple. I usually have two a day, or more if I juice them. Let’s take a look at the nutrition info of one 7.5oz Granny Smith Apple…
Calories – 90
Fat – 0 grams
Protein – 0 grams
Carbohydrates – 25 grams
Of those 25 grams of carbs, 4 grams are from fiber. That equates to 16 calories, or 18% of the total calories, are fiber. Those 4 grams of fiber are about 1/8 of your daily fiber requirement – all from a single low-calorie snack.
So try to get around 30 grams of dietary fiber every day. Don’t go overboard and ingest 50 grams of fiber a day, as that could cause problems! Take in your 30 grams or so, and enjoy it!
So forget about what you can’t have to eat, and go grab yourself a nice high-fiber apple.