7 Easy Strategies to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
By JJ VIRGIN
Fiber is my number one nutrient to become (and stay) lean and healthy.
Studies show that increasing dietary fiber can reduce your risk for diabetes and other diseases, aid fat loss and result in lower body weight. Fiber can also increase satiety, help balance blood sugar levels and protect against stroke.
Here's the part that might surprise you: I recommend 50 grams fiber a day. Since the recommended fiber intake according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention is between 25 to 35 grams for adults, people tend to look at me incredulously. "Fifty!?" they ask. Yes, I recommend 50. To err on the side of caution, be sure to talk to your doctor about it.
According to the American Diabetes Association, "Americans do not consume nearly enough fiber in their diet, so while it is wise to aim for this goal, any increase in fiber in your diet can be beneficial. Most of us only get about ½ what is recommended."
Here are seven strategies to help you incorporate more fiber-rich foods into your diet:
1. Bump Up Your Leafy Greens
Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens contain maximum fiber and nutrients with minimum calories. Salads make an ideal way to eat more greens. You can also use strong, large lettuce leafs such as Romaine and cabbage as alternatives to wheat wraps for sandwiches. I even throw raw kale into my protein shake for breakfast: you won't taste it in there!
2. Increase Your Cruciferous Veggies
Besides providing vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting nutrients, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables come loaded with fiber. For example, raw Brussels sprouts and broccoli pack 3.3 and 2.4 grams of fiber (respectively) per cup. Cook them in a little coconut oil to help your body better absorb their fat-soluble nutrients.
3. Berry Your Routine
Berries are my favorite fruit because they're lower in sugar and higher in nutrients. Raspberries top the list with an impressive 8 grams of fiber per cup. I throw frozen berries into my protein shake every morning. For a fiber-loaded healthy dessert, top fresh berries with cinnamon and sliced almonds.
4. Include More Beans and Legumes
I'm totally on board with the benefits of a whole food Paleo-type diet. But I differ from many Paleo eaters in that I also eat legumes, a rich source of nutrients and fiber that also create variety on your plate. One cup of cooked lentils provides almost 16 grams of fiber, and other beans aren't far behind.
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5. Slow-Release Starchy Carbs
Swap white potatoes and rice for fiber-and-nutrient-richer carbs like sweet potatoes and quinoa. Here's a list of diet-friendly healthful carbs, you might have been ignoring.
6. These Foods Earn "A+"s
Artichoke and avocado are my 2 "A+" foods for fiber. A medium artichoke and 1 cup of avocado each pack an impressive 10 grams of fiber, plus they make everything from salads to grass-fed burgers taste better.
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In addition to being excellent sources of healthy fats, protein, and nutrients, nuts and seeds are also a great source of fiber. A quarter-cup of almonds provides about 4 grams of fiber. Add one tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed to your protein shake, and you'll get 2 grams of fiber.
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"I'm Just Not Meeting my Quota Today..."
I get it. Some days you'll be traveling, stranded at an airport, or otherwise unable to get 50 grams of fiber from the foods you're eating. That's why I also recommend a professional-quality fiber-blend powder to meet your quota.
Here's a little trick to reduce your appetite and eat less at your next meal: Blend a tablespoon of freshly ground flax seed or a fiber supplement into a tall glass of water about 20-to-30 minutes before your meal.
Readers - Do you pay attention to how much fiber you're consuming each day? What are your favorite fiber-rich foods? Do you have any tips or tricks to eat more fiber? Leave a comment below, and let us know.
Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness expert JJ Virgin is author of NY Times bestseller The Virgin Diet and the bestselling Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy. She was also co-host of TLC’s Freaky Eaters. JJ frequently blogs for The Huffington Post, LIVESTRONG.COM, and other prominent media outlets. She created the 4 x 4 Burst Training Workout and regularly appears on TV shows like Rachel Ray and The Today Show to discuss topics such as fast fat loss, weight loss, and food sensitivities.