One recommendation I make to every one of my clients is a substance we cannot digest and has no nutritional value. In fact, some have stated it blocks the ability to absorb certain nutrients at all. This substance is fiber, and once in your body, it has a variety of valuable benefits precisely because of its limitations.
Fiber is found in two forms: Soluble and Insoluble.
Both forms of fiber are predominately found in foods such as fruits, veggies, brown rice, sweet potatoes, barley, oats, nuts, rye, seeds, and beans. Soluble fiber acts as a natural appetite suppressant because of its ability to absorb water leading to a feeling of fullness. More importantly, it helps stabilize blood sugar spikes. Carbohydrates such as white breads and pasta that lack fiber lead to quick spikes in blood sugar, which in turn inhibits the body’s ability to burn fat. On the other hand, foods containing fiber allow for a gradual rise in blood sugar reducing hunger and fatigue consequently keeping you in that all important fat burning zone. Foods rich in fiber can also block the absorption of fats and sugar. This means you can still consume moderate amounts of sugar and fat and still lose weight by keeping insulin low. Another reason the calorie counting diet alone doesn’t work.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It passes the small intestine and enters the large intestine in close to its original form. Insoluble fiber is tremendously beneficial to digestive health, which is the number one key to general health. Benefits include a reduction of inflammation in the gut (the number one cause of disease), risk of cancer, hemorrhoids, and constipation, and the removal of toxins.
The average American fails to get enough fiber in the diet. This is one of the key reasons behind the obesity epidemic and increase of disease in this country. So how much fiber do you need? Men under 50 need 38 grams a day while women over 50 need 25 grams. Once you hit the half-century mark the requirement is reduced. Men over 50 need 30 grams, while women need 21 grams.
To ensure adequate fiber intake try these tips:
- Eat a variety of veggies and fruits and make sure you eat the skin. Try to include a vegetable with every meal.
- Drink a minimum of half your body weight in ounces of water a day to allow fiber to do its job.
- Spread your intake of fiber throughout the day. Eating all your fiber in one meal defeats the benefit and can lead to some unpleasant side effects.
- Scrap all processed white flour, rice, sugar, bread, and pasta. There is no fiber or nutritional value in these foods. Replace with brown rice, whole grains and frozen breads such as Ezekiel bread.
- Snack on nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and walnuts.
- Don’t rely on over the counter fiber supplements. Remember nothing can replace real food.
About Steve Van Zandt
Steve Van Zandt is a fitness professional from upstate New York whose unprecedented dedication to transform his clients delivers results and self-confidence. Prior to his career as a trainer, Steve led soldiers as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army. In 2001, Steve left the military, but took his discipline, determination, and motivation with him and applied it to his passion for the health and fitness industry. Well adjusted to the civilian life of college and work, he was involuntarily recalled back into the military to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon his return, Steve finished college and completed his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from Florida Atlantic University. He has since worked alongside some of the world’s top experts in the fitness industry and has trained numerous elite level NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB athletes. Steve maintains a high thirst for knowledge and frequently looks to challenge himself as he continues to add top national certifications to his resume and dedicate himself to daily study and research.
Steve believes what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and when you achieve results, you will be so inspired that failure will never be an option. He has earned the following: B.S.E. in Exercise Science, CISSN (Certified Sports Nutritionist), NSCA-CSCS (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist), NSCA-CPT (Certified Personal Trainer), NASM-CES (Corrective Exercise Specialist), NASM-PES (Performance Enhancement Specialist), and MAT (Muscle Activation Techniques) Jumpstart Certified.