8 Ways to Eat More Fiber – and 4 Reasons Why You Should

By Ali Luke
Fiber Rich Diet

You’ve counted grams of fat, gone low-carb, considered the GI of your foods, cut down on sugar, and you’re still overweight … what’s left to track?

You might find paying attention to your fiber intake helps shift those pounds.

Back in the 1980s, the F Plan hit huge success by promoting a high-fiber diet. Although our understanding of nutrition has advanced considerably since then, most diet books and gurus still recommend eating plenty of fiber.

The US government recommended daily fiber intake is 25g and the UK suggests a minimum of 18g.

So why is fiber so good for you? And how can you make sure you’re exceeding those minimum targets?

Four Key Benefits of Fiber

  1. Fiber keeps you full for longer, meaning that you’re less likely to be hungry again just a couple of hours after a meal.
  2. Eating fiber – especially if you’ve just begun a diet and the volume of food you eat is lower than before – can avoid bowel problems such as constipation.
  3. A diet rich in fiber helps prevent heart problems.
  4. Fiber-rich foods bulk out a meal, meaning you’ll be satisfied with fewer calories.

For information about the science behind recommending fiber, see Fiber: What is is, and Why you need it.

Eight Great Sources of Fiber

Most of us know some of the common sources of fiber – bran flakes, for instance (typically 6g fiber in a 40g serving), or wholemeal bread (5.1g fiber in two thin slices). But these are loads of other ways to meet your fiber target:

  1. Many varieties of beans: baked beans, kidney beans. (7.9g fiber in half a tin of baked beans).
  2. Potatoes – leave the skin on. (4.8g fiber in a medium-sized, 300g, potato)
  3. Wholegrain pasta – the difference between white and wholegrain pasta is not so noticeable as the difference between white and brown bread. (8.1g fiber in a 90g dried weight serving)
  4. Lentils – great in pies, soups, and vegetarian dishes. (4.9g fiber in 100g lentils)
  5. Mixed fruit, nuts and/or seeds – often available in snack-sized bags. (A typical mix has 4.7g fiber in a 50g serving)
  6. Raspberries – surprisingly high in fiber (6.5g fiber in a 100g serving)
  7. Crispbreads – a great alternative to a sandwich. (6g fiber in 4 crispbreads)
  8. Oatmeal – add fresh or dried fruit for even more fiber. (3.5g fiber in 50g oats, 1.5g fiber in 25g raisins)

Are you eating enough fiber? Why not share your favourite fiber-full foods in the Comments section below?

24 Comments

  1. Lee Nutritional Coach

    Try to get both soluble & insoluble Fiber with every meal. Note a large amount of fiber one time a day is Bad for you.
    Get your water from a good Quality water filter and drink a min. of
    1/2 oz. per lb. of your body weight. Do not trust well or city water or even Bottled water to clean out the Toxins from your body.

    Reply
  2. HealthNut

    I recently saw an episode on the Dr Oz show where he talks about Fiber for weight loss too. He recommends a crispbread too, GG Bran crispbread. Has anyone here tried them before and what makes them better than some other breads? I figured they have high fiber, but havent really heard much else about the product. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  3. Amy Hanus

    Great post!! Why aren’t more people on the fiber train like we are? Our new book is promoting exactly what you have written. It’s simple for people to add more fiber in once they know what has fiber. I like how you’ve even given suggestions too. Thanks for promoting fiber!!
    Amy

    Reply
  4. fiberfanatic

    Great info…I found more ideas on adding fiber to my diet at fiberfitness.com

    Reply
  5. Glucomannan

    Fiber is essential to good health and maintaining low cholesterol.

    Reply
  6. Spectra

    Bran and psyllium are, IMHO, “fake” fiber…fiber for people who don’t get enough fiber from their regular diet. If you get your fiber from fruits, veggies, beans, brown rice, nuts, etc., you will probably have no problems with getting the water in with your fiber and you will have fewer issues with bloating.

    Most people that I know who eat a lot of bran or take a psyllium supplement end up with lots of bloating and gas because they don’t drink a lot of water with it and the rest of their diet is usually crap. You’re better off eating a diet with lots of whole foods and avoiding the processed stuff.

    Reply
  7. Ali from TheOfficeDiet

    Hi Spectra,

    They’re all great options! I’m a bit of a salad fiend myself (I can happily get through a giant plate full of lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, celery, peppers…) but I thought it was rather an obvious source of fiber that people would already know, hence didn’t include it on the list!

    Ali

    Reply
  8. Ali from TheOfficeDiet

    Hi Regina,

    Great suggestions, thanks for adding those! I was trying to list sources of fibre that most people might not know — which is why I said “Most of us know some of the common sources of fiber” — but perhaps I should have been a bit more explicit about that!

    Of course salad and vegetables are brilliant sources of fiber (as well as lots of other nutritional goodies) and at a minimal calorie cost.

    Reply
  9. Mike OD - IF Life

    and also too much fiber will absorb nutrients and minerals and leave you deficient….there is a reason fruits and vegetables have fiber and water in them…a perfect design. Bran is something man discovered he could use to push processed foods….and does more harm than good, what you call an Anti-nutrient. Your body doesnt need a ton of fiber, it needs a healthy gut and good nutrition.

    Reply
  10. Spectra

    Fiber only causes constipation if you don’t drink enough water with it. Fiber will absorb water like a sponge and it will move through your system a lot more easily.

    Reply
  11. Spectra

    Potatoes are only a really good source of fiber if you eat the skins too. I think too many people eat just the flesh and mix it with too many high calorie toppings/ingredients to really make it healthy.

    I think eating whole grain pasta instead of white pasta is a great way of getting your fiber in, especially if you love pasta.

    Reply
  12. Nic

    I agree with Spectra. I get most of my fiber from vegetables and salads. I also really like beans, brown and wild rice, and high-fiber crackers. I almost never eat white rice or white bread, and I try to pick whole wheat pasta at least 50% of the time. Nuts are also a good choice, but I can’t eat them. I just can’t stand the taste!

    Reply
  13. Spectra

    I was wondering the same thing about the non-starchy veggies not being on the list as well. I eat a lot of spinach, broccoli, celery, carrots, mixed greens, lettuce, etc. for a great deal of my fiber.

    Don’t forget about nuts…they are a good source of fiber AND good fat and that combo really fills you up and keeps you satisfied for a long time.

    Reply
  14. Lauren

    My thoughts exactly Regina! If you’re talking about fiber, especially in regards to weight loss…non-starchy veggies are a must have on the list. Fiber content only scratches the surface of the endless benefits of colorful vegetables.

    Fiber is the part of the ‘PLANT’ that your body can’t digest, so if you’re trying to get more fiber in your diet, go for a variety of plant based foods in their most unprocessed form.

    Reply
  15. Mike OD - IF Life

    Fiber may make you feel full. Higher Fiber(esp soluble) can actually increase constipation. Fiber does not increase waste removal, bacteria in the gut is more responsible for that. Moral of the story, eat fruits and vegetables, don’t eat processed foods, take probiotics and you will be fine. Bran is a cheap fiber that is sold only to make inferior processed foods seem healthy(did a whole thing on this on my blog if people want to read more)

    Reply
  16. Regina

    I’m surprised non-starchy vegetables and salads are not on the list…they provide greater nutrient-density, similar or higher fiber and significantly less calories….with lower-GI and GL (for those who keep an eye on GI/GL).

    For example, a cup of cooked spinach is just 41-calories, 6.75g carbohydrate with 4.3g of fiber. Even if you add some olive oil, lemon and garlic, the calories are still less than most of the options above; 1-cup spinach, 1-TBS olive oil, 1-clove garlic and 1-wedge fresh lemon sauteed = 166-calories.

    More important is the nutrient-density with the above providing, for the day – 100% of vitamin A, 66% of Folate, 38% Magnesium, 33% Riboflavin, 24% Vitamin C, 21% Calcium, 23% Vitamin E, 27% Vitamin B-6, 15% Thiamin, 13% Zinc, and 5% for each Selenium and Vitamin K….and 856mg of Potassium (DV = 4700mg per day, so that’s 18% of potassium)

    The potato? Without anything on it (and who seriously eats a baked potato plain?)….greater than 5x the calories – 220-calories…for very similar fiber. It also has 51g of total carbohydrate that remains very high even when you deduct the fiber – net 46g, all metabolizing to blood sugar.

    It isn’t nearly as nutrient-dense either….while it is comparable for vitamin C, the potato offers zero vitamin A, virtually zero vitamin E, significantly less Folate (just 5%), thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, zinc and selenium.

    Comparisons with other non-starchy vegetables verus starchier options (like potatoes, pasta, legumes and grains like oats) are similar….your best source of fiber, if you’re concerned with fiber intake is non-starchy vegetables!

    Reply
  17. Vered@MomGrind

    The only way I can get enough fiber is by eating an energy bar every day.

    Reply
  18. Jay Andrew Allen

    I like a nice bowl of Arrowhead Steel Cut Oats myself.

    For bread, you can grab a bag of Arrowhead Mills Whole Wheat Flour and follow the instructions on the back for a healthy and incredibly tasty whole wheat bread. Much better than anything you’d buy from the bread aisle of your local mega-mart.

    Reply
  19. Judy

    I have no trouble getting enough, and like Heather have to be careful not to get too much.

    We’re mostly vegetarian, and often eat lots of beans, which have lots of fiber. Add in oatmeal – our usual breakfast – lots of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, mostly whole grains, and sometimes I’m really pushing it. If I’m getting too much, I can tell, and don’t feel well then, either.

    I really don’t find it hard at all to get enough fiber, and if people would just back off the processed foods, it wouldn’t be an issue. But, instead, they’re getting their fiber in processed supplement forms!

    Reply
  20. Mike OD - IF Life

    I will always agree with get as much fiber from fruits and vegetables…..but……avoid Bran…(see below)

    However there are LOTS of flaws to the “eat more fiber” arguement….such as:

    – “It lowers risks on colon cancer”…only fruits and vegetable based fiber does that…not bran…
    – “It helps treat/prevent diabetes”…does fiber slow gastic emptying? Sure…but if you are eating fruits and vegetables you don’t have to worry about it as they are slow digesting anyways. You only need more fiber if you are eating cheap processed carbs.
    – “It keeps you regular”…the gut environment that is responsible for stools and softening/removing is more based on bacteria environment…not roughage. So take some probiotics if you want to “poop” more.
    – Also there are the downsides of too much fiber…namely it can inflame and damage intestinal lining (non-soluble…like scratching your skin…it will get irritated), also excess soluble fiber that expands in the stomach and slows gastic emptying (slower digestion) can also absorb and trap essential nutrients and minerals like calcium and zinc…and then remove it from your body with out it ever being absorbed.

    Bran is a cheap marketing source of fiber that is used by manufacturers to sell low quality products that you should not be eating. Moral of the story…eat fruits and vegetables, take some probiotics and stay away from processed foods…you will poop as much as you like and be healthier for it.

    Reply
  21. Heather

    I have no problem getting enough fiber in my diet. In fact, I had to cut back a little bit – it’s possible to get too much, I learned.

    Does stop hunger better than anything else.

    Reply
  22. Katie

    Most vegetables have quite a bit of fiber, and fewer calories than grain sources. For example, a cup of cauliflower has 2.5 grams of fiber. Have a couple cups of mixed vegetables at dinner and a salad and that’s a lot easier than trying to get your fiber from bread or bran flakes.

    Reply
  23. Jim Purdy

    I try to get my fiber naturally in salads, like the great veggie salad I had yesterday at our Tulsa Whole Foods market. However, I also eat a lot of added fiber by taking several psyllium capsules daily with green tea, It really seems to help fill me up.

    Reply
  24. Mark

    Great post and it’s something we do need to take note of which I don’t think as whole we do.

    Reply