“I’ve just started a new fitness program. Should I take a protein shake or meal replacement?” It’s an inevitable question that has been asked by nearly every person who is looking for nutrition coaching or advice.
Of course, protein is the building block of lean muscle. Most websites and trainers will tell you that you need to ensure you’re eating enough protein. However, protein does not directly aid in weight loss, and protein may require additional supplements to gain its full benefits.
Protein consumption for Americans is reaching an all-time high. This may be due to the increased popularity of low carbohydrate diets. It’s estimated that 97% of Americans get at least the recommended amount of protein, but under 3% are getting enough fiber.1 One factor that may be contributing to this imbalance is the fact that protein rich foods are a common part of the American diet. Foods such as eggs, chicken, beef, beans or milk are commonly seen in the typical kitchen. Foods containing high amounts of fiber, on the other hand, are less common. The bottom line? You’re probably getting more than enough protein and not getting enough fiber.
There are two types of fiber, and they are both correlated with how they interact in water. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, while insoluble fiber does not. The reactions to these two types of fiber in your body are completely opposite. When soluble fiber enters our body, it slows down our digestion. You don’t just feel fuller longer, you actually are fuller longer. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water. It remains intact in our digestive system and speeds up the digestive process.
Fiber is generally associated with promoting regular bowel movements, but to leave it there, you would be selling yourself short. Yes, fiber promotes regularity, but there is so much more. As fiber passes through your body, it absorbs fat. Whether you are looking to gain lean mass or lose weight, your goal is to lower body fat. As soluble fiber makes its way through your digestive system, it latches on to bile acids that your gallbladder makes to breakdown fat. When you excrete the fiber attached to the bile acids, you are lowering your body’s content of bile acid. The lower the bile acid, the lower amount of fat you absorb.2 While you want to maximize your absorption of valuable vitamins and nutrients, fat is not one of them.
Fiber benefits are not limited to bile acid extraction exclusively. It actually works like a natural detox. Soluble fiber “soaks up potentially harmful compounds, excess estrogen and unhealthy fats, before they can be absorbed by the body,” while insoluble fiber “makes things move along more quickly,” therefore “limiting the amount of time chemicals like BPA, mercury and pesticides stay in your system.” 3
Whether soluble or insoluble, fiber is soaking up things that our body doesn’t want or need. The removal of anything from hormones to pesticides (consumed knowingly or unknowingly) can be assisted by adding fiber to your diet. This can contribute to losing unnecessary weight and boosting overall wellness.
A new set of supplements are popping up all over health stores across America called Prebiotics. Prebiotics are essentially a new name to the proven product, fiber.
Meal replacements and psyllium husk add fiber. Lentils, beans, artichokes, avocados and whole wheat pasta are also great sources of fiber. Adding a blend of flax and chia seed to morning yogurt can boost your fiber intake.
Benefits of Fiber in a Fitness Program