By Mary Susan Spears, MS, RD , CSP, LD
As anyone who has followed a keto type diet plan can tell you, the number one side effect is constipation. Small servings of fruits and vegetables combined with more fats can do a number on doing number two. Today, I’m going to talk about fiber and count five ways to get more fiber without adding carbs.
Fiber is the part of plant-based foods that our gut can’t digest or break up. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Does the type of fiber really matter? It depends on what you want. If you want to reduce heart disease or control your blood sugar, you need soluble fiber. If you are solving gastrointestinal issues, you need both types.
Soluble fiber is found in all fruits and vegetables but is especially high in keto friendly Brussels sprouts (2 g per ½ cup) and asparagus (1.5 g in 5 spears). Soluble fiber can ease both constipation and diarrhea. During digestion, soluble fiber turns into a soft, sticky gel that attracts water, making the stool softer and making it easier to “go.” If stool is too loose, soluble fiber absorbs extra water and firms things up. Soluble fiber also boosts the good bacteria in your gut, which are linked to improved immunity, anti-inflammatory effects, and even enhanced mood.
Insoluble fiber is what people call “roughage.” It’s the skins of fruit like apples and pears, the tougher parts of broccoli, greens, and cabbage, or the strings in celery. It does not dissolve in water or get absorbed into the blood stream. Insoluble fiber adds bulk which helps food pass from the stomach into the intestines.
The key to helping fiber do its job is water.Too much fiber without enough water makes really hard stool into concrete. For adults, a good goal is 16 ounces of water at least four times a day. For children, your dietitian should give you fluid goals to meet each day. It’s also important to add in fiber gradually to avoid extra gas or bloating.
How much fiber do we need each day? For kids, it’s easy to calculate: add five grams to their age. A five-year-old child needs 10 grams of fiber per day. For adults, the goal is higher at 25-30 grams per day. It can be tricky to reach these goals on keto therapy without adding in a supplement like KetoVie 4:1, which has 4.4-5.2 grams of fiber per carton. (Ketovie also contains MCT oil, which can help with constipation, but that’s a story for another day.)
Remember, because fiber isn’t digested completely, it doesn’t spend those valuable carbs. In most cases the higher the fiber content, the lower the glycemic index. Any food that has five grams of fiber or more is considered a high-fiber food, so let’s count down five ways to sneak in some extra fiber each day.
5. Dust with Cocoa
Many people on the keto diet miss the flavor of chocolate. One tablespoon of cocoa powder has 2 grams of fiber, and just a little can give you that chocolate flavor you crave. Splurge on the good stuff because just a little goes a long way.
Unsweetened cocoa powder mixed with coconut oil or butter and a drop of your sugar substitute of choice can make a tasty fat bomb with a touch of fiber. Dust your bowl of berries and whipped cream with a pinch of cocoa for a snack or dessert, or add a dash in your morning smoothie. KetoVie 4:1 Chocolate has a higher fiber content than the Vanilla flavor because of the cocoa powder.
4. Add the Avocado
Avocado isn’t just a fat source. It is also a great source of fiber. Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she made this tasty fruit at the perfect 4:1 ketogenic ratio. One medium-sized avocado provides 10-13 grams of fiber. Serve plain avocado or try it with a sprinkle of chili powder and squirt of lime juice for a great boost in both fat and fiber.
3. Nosh on Nuts
We realize many people have nut allergies, but if you don’t, nuts are high in both fat and fiber. In ¼ cup of almonds you get 4.5 grams of fiber. Nut flours also make a great substitute for wheat flour in keto baking. That’s why KetoVie Wholesome Bread and Kwik Mix are based on nut flours.
2. Buy the Berries
You know those annoying seeds that get in your teeth when you eat berries? Well, they provide a great source of insoluble fiber and are low on the glycemic index to boot. For each cup of berries, strawberries and blueberries give about 3-4 grams of fiber, but blackberries pack 7.4 grams of fiber, and raspberries have 8 grams.
1. Sprinkle the Seeds
A trend we can get behind is adding flax or chia seeds for more fiber. Yes, those same little seeds that can give your Chia Pet green hair are a great source of fiber. For every tablespoon of whole seeds, flax provides 3.5 grams of fiber, and chia seeds have a whopping 4.1 grams. These magical seeds can also be ground into a flour and used to thicken sauces or puddings.
We hope these ideas provide some relief for keto discomfort. Let us know about your favorite high fiber boost.