Feasting on fatty fare is a fantastic approach to losing weight and rejuvenating vitality. Still, those leaning closer to carnivores may find themselves noticing changes regarding food digestion and elimination when adopting a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
Several fiber-rich foods are high in fast-acting carbohydrates and sugars that we advise avoiding while on a ketogenic diet. However, there are many low-glycemic fiber options to enjoy for the best of both worlds––a healthy gut microbiome and the thermogenic benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet.
Fiber is essential to digestive and gut health and not a matter to relegate to memories of your granny's Metamucil. Furthermore, fiber is a great way to facilitate weight loss, especially in the abdominal area, while maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
A fiber-rich diet is essential to maintaining optimal health. However, before we get into the many benefits of this ingredient, let's first examine what fiber is and how it works in the body.
What is Fiber?
Plant-derived fiber or roughage is that portion of food that human digestive enzymes cannot break down. Even though fiber is a carbohydrate, it cannot be broken down like simple sugars or complex carbohydrates.
The complex composition of dietary fiber includes several chemical compounds distinguished by their viscosity, fermentability, and solubility, which directly affect their role in the body's functioning.
Even though fiber is a carbohydrate, again, it does not break down like simple sugars or complex carbohydrates. So, in addition to contributing to reducing carb cravings by not being absorbed by the body, fiber helps modulate glucose metabolism as well.
Many foods contain gut-boosting fiber. From vegetables and fruits to low-glycemic beans like the lupin bean––a versatile ingredient that makes a great, fibrous, and low-carb flour perfect for baking––there are many keto-friendly foods to include in your plan to consume adequate fiber.
Why is Fiber Important?
Fiber serves many functions in the body, including keeping the digestive system pristine and healthy, assisting with effortless bowel movements, and removing harmful cholesterol and carcinogens from the body like a dutiful street sweeper.
Fiber also helps bind to roughage in the digestive tract, adding bulk to form a more solid stool that's easier to pass to prevent constipation or runny stool.
Plus, a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine asserts that eating 30 grams of fiber per day can aid in weight loss, lower blood pressure, and improve insulin sensitivity without making other drastic dietary changes.
Women should consume 21 to 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should consume 30 to 38 grams. To ensure you get the recommended daily amount of fiber, carefully check labels or track fiber content in fresh fruit and produce diligently.
Besides aiding in widdling excess weight about the waist, eating fiber every day also plays a significant role in helping prevent future storage of fat in the abdomen––a simple daily practice with powerful and lasting results.
Recent studies even reveal that a 10-gram increase in daily soluble fiber intake can result in as much as a 3.7% lower risk of gaining belly fat!
Providing us with essential nutrients, insoluble and soluble fiber, and prebiotic fiber is necessary for our health and well-being. And certain symptoms that we’ll share below may indicate a nutritional deficiency.
Moreover, fiber of all types promotes healthy digestion, detoxifies the body, and reduces constipation.
What Happens if I am Lacking Fiber?
The absence of fiber manifests itself in many ways. You might want to consider increasing your fiber intake if any of the following symptoms occur:
- Constipation/bloating: As we mentioned, fiber plays a significant role in gut health, digestion, and elimination; and you may be low on the macro if you notice you're not experiencing regular cycles of digestion and elimination.
Hunger after meals: Fat is an incredibly satiating macronutrient, boasting nine calories per gram to carbs with a modest four––essentially allowing you to eat twice as many carbohydrates or proteins as fat for an equal amount of calories.
However, eating fiber in addition to premium fats and proteins in your low-carb, high-fat meal plan is crucial to creating a well-balanced approach to keto.
- Blood sugar fluctuations: High-fiber foods contain fewer digestible carbohydrates, so eating fibrous foods slows the body's rate of digestion when eaten and creates a more minimal and gradual rise in blood sugar post-meal.
High cholesterol: Getting enough soluble fiber in our diet plays a huge role in limiting the absorption of exogenous cholesterol sources into the bloodstream from animal-based foods sources to promote balanced triglycerides.
With as few as five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day acting as a potent tool to lower your LDL cholesterol.
- Fatigue/low energy: Fiber may not boast the energy properties of ketone bodies, but consuming fiber is associated with more profound, more restorative sleep. A diet rich in fiber and limited in sugar, refined grains, and low-quality saturated fat could help enhance overall sleep quality, subsequently aiding increased feelings of vitality.
Inflammation: Fiber-rich diets may reduce inflammation by lowering body weight. Additionally, fiber-rich foods feed beneficial bacteria in the gut, which then release substances that help lower levels of inflammation throughout the body.
Furthermore, a high-fiber diet may reduce inflammation by modifying the pH and permeability of the gut. Plus, reducing inflammation may lessen depression symptoms by altering neurotransmitter levels.
- Diet-related Nausea: Inadequate fiber intake can cause various digestive issues. Poor fiber levels can lead to excessive (diarrhea) or infrequent (constipation) bowel movements, or feelings of mild nausea.
- Weight Gain: Fiber aids in satiety and can help with weight loss by helping you feel fuller for longer on fewer calories.
If you follow a keto meal plan, consider including some of the low-glycemic and fibrous food options below to avoid some of the symptoms mentioned above that can cause considerable upset and discomfort.
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that consists of approximately 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% net carbs. Research suggests that this low-carb diet helps with weight loss and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Keto dieters consume most of their calories from high-quality fat sources, moderate amounts of protein, and limited quantities of low-glycemic carbohydrates.
By eating a low-carb, high-fat diet, the body is encouraged to switch from burning glucose to burning fat and ketones for fuel, a process aided by the gut-soothing effects of fiber.
Ketosis is the process by which your body breaks down fatty acids to produce ketones in the liver, which serve as a source of energy for the brain and body. Ketones can take three different forms:
- Acetoacetate (AcAc)
- Beta-hydroxybutyric acid (BHB)
Fiber is such an essential nutrient and offsets the body's absorption of carbohydrates, creating the notion of net carbs when you calculate total carbs less fiber––a fundamental tenet followed by many adopters of the low-carb, high-fat lifestyle.
Getting Enough Fiber on Keto
Fortunately, you can incorporate a lot of low-carb foods into your meal plan to increase fiber and reduce carbs and simple sugars. Here are a few sweet and savory foods high in fiber that you may choose to include:
- Vegetables: You should eat all leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale while on the keto diet to increase fiber intake. You can also spiralize zucchini for a savory selection or top celery stalks with fatty and protein-rich nut butter for a fast and convenient meal.
- Fruits: Eating fat-filled fruit like avocado and leucine-rich savory and slightly sweet options like tomato, along with low-glycemic berries (e.g., raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and wild blueberries, et al.) is an excellent source of fiber with an added sweetness quite welcomed on keto.
- Nuts and seeds are also a great source of fiber that's low in carbs but packed with nutrition. Try options like energy-boosting and filling chia seeds, omega-3-rich flaxseed, or a complete protein like hemp seeds. Plus, low-carb nuts like pili, almonds, pecans, and walnuts are additional omega-3-rich selections to help with your fiber intake.
- Add a depth of flavor to your keto shakes or create our delicious Fudgy Keto Brownies with a touch of antioxidant-rich cocoa that provides a boost of added fiber.
Best Keto-Friendly Sources of Fiber
The keto diet does not recommend eating starchy vegetables like potatoes. However, it is still possible to indulge in a small portion of spuds on rare occasions without obliterating your ketotic gains if following a cyclical or targeted keto diet where carbs are consumed in moderation but strategically. And starch-resistant vegetables like potatoes are said to cause less of an insulin spike than simple carbs that elevate glucose levels drastically.
With that said, it's advisable to prefer the following fibrous foods on a low-carb, high-fat diet as your primary source of the macro:
- Almond Flour
- Coconut Flour
- Lupin Flour (and lupin beans)
In addition, there is a wide array of foods to add to your meal plan to ensure you get your fiber fix. Choose the following options to maximize fiber while minimizing carbs:
- All leafy greens
- Cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale)
- Bell peppers
- Bok choy
- Low-glycemic berries (e.g. raspberries, blackberries, etc.)
Nuts and Seeds
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Pili nuts
- Pine nuts (sparingly)
Plus, here are some of our favorite keto-friendly recipes that are full of fiber:
Make some No Bake Chocolate “Oat” Bars during meal prep and snack on them throughout the week for a sweet and slightly salty treat that’s great on-the-go.
Break the fast with a colorful acai bowl, brimming with fresh berries, ample fat from the coconut cream, omega-3 fats from chia seeds, along with a bevy of low-glycemic berries.
Spiralize zucchini stalks into zoodles and top it with a silky alfredo sauce for a quick and easy keto meal in a flash. Plus, you can toss in some cubed chicken or other protein from the week's leftovers to keep it creative throughout the week.
Add a tasty Savory Keto Pie with Zucchini to your meal prep for the perfect weekday comfort food solution that you can easily reheat and eat in minutes.
Traditional granola is a definite no-go on keto as those store-bought options are often loaded with sugar and cheap fats to increase shelf life. But you can make a health-conscious keto granola with the substitution of a few key ingredients.
Check out our simple recipe for a fantastic recipe to get you started; then get as creative as you like!
Limiting simple sugars and carbs in your diet doesn't mean eliminating fiber. To ensure a keto protocol that works, you must choose the highest-quality fiber you can get that won't spike your blood sugar.
Luckily, there are a lot of fiber-rich foods in keto meal plans, such as berries and avocado, so it's easy to keep your system nourished and regular on a keto diet––with ease.
Instead of fretting over the carbs found in fiber and fibrous foods, focus on eating items that offer the lowest glycemic impact and most nutrient-dense sources of fiber for the calories to further customize your meal plan to achieve your dietary and wellness goals.
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