Dietary Fiber Consumption on a Low-Carbohydrate Diet
Updated: Jun 2, 2019
When I decided to try eating a ketogenic diet for 100 days, adequate dietary fiber consumption was a concern. Drastically reducing the amount of carbohydrates in a person’s diet can make it difficult to achieve recommended daily amounts of fiber. Understanding the importance of fiber prompted me to be very conscious of the amount and type of fibrous foods I chose to consume.
Benefits of Eating Fiber
Some of the many benefits of fiber in the diet include blood sugar control, heart health, reduced risk for stroke, weight loss/management, skin health, lower risk for hemorrhoids, relief from IBS, reduced instances of gallstones/kidney stones, reduced type II diabetes risk, promotes healthy gut bacteria, and reduces risk for certain types of cancer.
Types of Fiber
The cellulose in plant cells is the main structural component of plants, and makes up most of the fiber we eat. There are two types of fiber in our diets: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves into a gel-like substance which helps to slow down digestion and helps people feel full longer. Some low carb foods that are high in soluble fiber are brussels sprouts, avocados, broccoli, and chia seeds. Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of substances through the digestive system and promotes regular stools. Cauliflower, nuts, and green beans all contain insoluble fiber.
Making Conscious Choices
I believe when limiting carbohydrates, it’s important that the carbohydrates that are being consumed are from high-fiber vegetables. The way I see it, it’s sort of a waste of allotted carbohydrates if they are coming from added sugars or sweets. During times when I’m restricting carbohydrates but I want to make sure I am getting a big dose of healthy fiber, I have a green smoothie. A few things I like to put in my smoothies that have a lot of fiber are raspberries (due to the seeds) ground flax seeds, and chia seeds. I also use about 3 cups of leafy greens, which have less fiber than seeds, but also provide important phytonutrients.
Low Carb ≠ Low Fiber
Eating a low carbohydrate diet can but does not always mean that you won’t get enough fiber. In fact, there are many people who eat a high carbohydrate diet, yet still do not get enough fiber due to choosing foods high in sugar and highly refined carbohydrates. During my ketogenic diet experiment, I chose to eat a very a low sugar, low carbohydrate diet, so it took conscious effort to make sure that when I did consume carbohydrates that they were from nutrient dense, high-fiber vegetables. Now that I’ve added more exercise into my lifestyle, I’m playing around with including even more fibrous foods into my diet, especially near exercise times. I do believe that not eating enough fiber can have negative consequences, but eating low carb does not have to mean low fiber, as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.