Exos | Formerly Core Performance

Set Your Fitness Goals. We'll Help You Achieve Them.

Join for free and you'll gain instant access to our tracking and reporting tools, expert coaching tips, and a free trial to our personalized training and nutrition programs.


One Small Change

The Fiber Forum: You Ask, We Answer


While it seems that everyone understands carbs, fats and protein, fiber somehow escapes us. Maybe it’s because it’s the plumber of nutrients, working in husky coveralls in the dark bowels of the system to keep our pipes clean. No need to pay it any heed as long as it’s working. But since I undertook this month’s One Small Change of eating 14 extra grams of fiber per day in an attempt to lose weight, lots of questions have come up. This is intriguing stuff. Here are some additional things I’ve been wondering about or have been asked by you:

What about fiber supplements such as Metamucil?

The National Fiber Council has a great chart on its website (click here to visit) that compares some popular fiber supplements. Metamucil is the clear leader. Made from all-natural psyllium husk, it’s been clinically proven to lower blood cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and overall risk of heart disease, a comprehensive health effect that no other fiber supplement can match. Although more research is needed regarding weight loss, it stands to reason that since you’re ingesting 3 grams of fiber per serving and drinking fluid, you’ll feel fuller and probably eat less. So a glass of Metamucil with a meal (it comes in all kinds of flavors now) or a dose in your post-workout protein shake is fine. But keep in mind that no fiber supplement supplies all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that real high-fiber foods do. If your choice is between adding a handful of raspberries or blueberries to that shake versus Metamucil, pick the berries. Whole foods, in their wonderful complexity, are always best. You’ll be getting more fiber, plus more nutrients.

What’s the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber?

Soluble fiber, which breaks down in water to form a kind of gel, helps regulate blood cholesterol and glucose levels. If you’ll excuse the mixing of metaphors, it’s also like a beat cop, taking disruptive characters out of circulation. Insoluble fiber, which doesn’t break down in water, scours the digestive system and helps keep you regular. It’s like a traffic cop, diligently moving things along. There are other differences between the two, but the bottom line is this: Don’t worry about it. Both types are healthful, and you should get as much fiber as you can in your daily diet. In fact, the National Academy of Sciences has recommended that the use of these terms be phased out.

How can I use high-fiber foods to boost performance on game days?

The last thing you want to do before a hard training session or an important event is eat anything high-fiber if you’re not accustomed to it, says Danielle LaFata, RD, CSSD, CPT, an Athletes’ Performance nutritionist. Otherwise, the only place you’ll finish first is in the sprint to the Port-o-Pot. It’s best to gradually accustom your system to fiber-rich foods (20 percent more each week is a good rule). After doing so, have your oatmeal or fiber-rich cereal 2 to 4 hours before the event (so you won’t feel bloated) and drink plenty of fluid. “The oats will hang out in your system without spiking insulin levels,” explains LaFata. “Your muscles will pull from this energy source, giving you lots of slow-burning fuel.” After the event, she recommends not ingesting anything with more than 5 grams of fiber, so as not to interfere with the absorption of food and nutrients into depleted muscles. Approached this way, a fiber-rich breakfast can indeed be your secret weapon.

Can I drink my oatmeal?

After my last blog, in which I admitted how sick I was of eating oatmeal every morning, I got an email from Vanessa Rosa at York University in Toronto. She adds uncooked rolled oats to her pre- or post-workout shake. This allows her to get her daily fiber fix out of the way, while supplying extra energy for hard training. I tried it, and she’s right. Blend the oats long enough, and you won’t even know they’re in there. In fact, I’ve taken to tossing them into pies, granola, yogurt, hamburgers, meatballs, breading mixes, even at vegan weddings. (They’re cheaper than confetti and more earth-friendly.)

<< Previous Post           Next Post >>

About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

Read Full Bio

Tags: Carbohydrate, Nutrients, Health, Weight Loss