If you’re starting a strict keto diet, one thing you’ll have to look out for is nutritional deficiency. It’s easy to miss out on essential nutrients with a highly controlled diet and fiber intake is one of them.
What is Fiber?
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not digested by the body. Normally, carbohydrates are broken down into their simplest form, which is glucose. However, fiber cannot be broken down into glucose. Instead, dietary fiber passes through the digestive system and is excreted from the body.
Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber
Your body needs a certain amount of fiber to maintain good digestion and intestinal health. It is an essential nutrient for people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), digestive problems or diabetes.
Overall, there are two types of fiber you need to watch out for: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber takes time to move through your digestive tract, which makes you feel full for hours after a meal. By adding soluble fiber to your diet, you will feel less hungry, which will greatly help with portion control and weight loss. In addition, soluble fiber reduces the absorption rate of carbohydrates in the blood, which helps diabetics control their blood sugar.
On the other hand, insoluble fiber moves quickly through your digestive tract, pushing food forward and ensuring regular bowel movements. Insoluble fiber can protect your body from colon cancer and bacterial infections. Therefore, you need to eat a variety of foods to ensure you get enough grams of fiber in your keto diet.
How Much Fiber do You Need on Keto?
The FDA recommends 25 grams of fiber per day, which you can get from high-fiber foods like chia seeds, avocados, pecans, broccoli and almonds.
On the other hand, the USDA more specifically recommends 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams per day for men.
Whether you should aim to consume this amount of fiber depends on your goals and tolerances. For example, some people find that consuming too many high-fiber keto foods can lead to excessive bloating and flatulence. Other symptoms may include nausea, stomach cramps and constipation. In addition to these symptoms, eating large amounts of plant-based foods may interfere with nutrient absorption because of their compounds known as antinutrients. If you choose to add more fiber to your keto diet, pay attention to how you feel and adjust accordingly.
How to Get Enough Fiber on Keto?
The debate is over which is the best source of fiber during a keto diet: whether you should take fiber supplements or try to get all your fiber from food. Well, the answer isn’t that simple. From my experience, I can say that most people do need additional fiber supplements in their daily diet – whether they are on a keto diet or not.
This is mostly because not everyone is constantly focused on getting sufficient amounts of low-carb vegetables and fermented vegetables to maintain healthy gut motility. It’s even worse when you’re on a keto diet. When it comes to high-fiber keto foods, there aren’t many options.
And let’s not forget that fiber doesn’t just treat constipation, it also provides an important living environment for all the good bacteria that inhabit our gut.
For example, to get the typical 20-30 grams of fiber in a diet of about 1500-2000 calories per day, you should basically eat all of your carbohydrates from flaxseed (3 grams per tablespoon). At that point, you may have to choose between ketosis and your fiber goals?
Not necessarily. From here you have 2 choices, either take a fiber supplement or adjust your diet with high fiber foods whenever possible.
Sources of Fiber on Keto Diet
Low-carbohydrate fibrous whole foods, such as those mentioned below, are recommended as part of a well-formulated ketogenic diet to allow nutritional ketosis (defined as elevated beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) above 0.5 mmol/L) to enter and/or remain. Try these examples in your diet:
- All leafy greens
- Cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale)
- Bok choy
- Low-sugar berries (e.g. wild blueberries)
3. Nuts & seeds
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
Fibers are classified as soluble and insoluble, and both are digested differently. Soluble fiber dissolves in liquids and becomes gel-like in the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber is the primary form of fiber found in vegetables, especially in low-carb, non-starchy dietary choices. It is not uncommon for people to neglect to consume high-fiber products after a ketogenic diet in order to reduce some of their food consumption. This can induce constipation, low digestibility and some vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It accelerates digestion, improves satiety and when consumed with carbohydrates, may slow intestinal absorption and further lower post-meal blood sugar levels. You can avoid these problems by consuming enough fiber from the food above.