Maybe you already know that fiber is crucial for regulating your intestinal health. It can also make you feel fuller, longer. Best of all, it can help you feel energized and ready to tackle life.
If you find your afternoon cup of coffee turning into two or three, ditch the caffeine and pay attention to your fiber intake. You’ll feel full longer, fuel your body and are less likely to crash in the afternoon. Combined with regular sleep, exercise and stress management, you’re bound to notice a big change.
Why is fiber so important?
Insoluble fiber is crucial to gut health. When you eat fiber, it expands in your stomach to make you feel full. It also moves faster through your intestines, which signals to your brain that you don’t need to eat anymore. (Suffering from constipation? Eat more fiber.) If you’re dieting, fiber is your best friend.
Fiber also slows sugar absorption into the bloodstream. Fiber-rich foods take longer to digest and absorb, which controls your blood glucose levels. When glucose spikes and then falls, it can make you feel hungry right after eating. This leads to overeating.
Additionally, fiber helps clean out your colon—think of it as nature’s scrub brush. Eating plenty of fiber cleans bacteria and buildup out of your colon, which can prevent colon cancer.
These are all great reasons to eat plenty of fiber. However, there’s still one more reason: the energy that it can provide.
How fiber energizes the body
Your body digests foods at different rates. Think about the way you feel when you eat a slice of cheesecake versus a bowl of quinoa with vegetables and proteins. When you eat foods high in sugar, you can feel it: you’ll get a quick burst of energy. Then, as your blood sugar levels fall, you may feel lethargic, cranky, dizzy or even suffer from low moods.
Starting your day with fiber will help you maintain regular energy levels, all day long. Try to choose a breakfast that combines fiber with plenty of lean protein. Since fiber takes longer to absorb, it will keep your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. That stops you from crashing in the late morning or afternoon. Make sure that your snacks also contain a healthy dose of fiber, too—they’ll help you avoid the 4pm “I need a nap” feeling.
This study explains the effects of fiber on energy. In short, the fact that fiber takes so long to digest means that your body will continue to get a steady stream of energy.
Good sources of fiber
There are plenty of ways to get your fiber, whether you prefer fruits, vegetables or another source.
Fruits like pears, avocados, strawberries, raspberries and bananas provide a great source of fiber. Eat them fresh in salads and smoothies, use them to top your oatmeal or add them to chia seed pudding for an extra fiber and energy boost. However, since some fruits are very high in sugar, so make sure that you combine your fibrous fruits with less sugary options.
Get a good dose of fiber from vegetables like broccoli, artichokes, kale, brussels sprouts and tomatoes. Salads are a great way to up your fiber intake, but you can also roast, steam or saute them for a tasty side.
Beans are renowned for their fiber content, but you can also get the same effects from lentils, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, split peas and more. They’re also very high in protein, which makes them a good replacement for meat. If you’re a vegetarian, leaning heavily on legumes is a good way to ensure you’re getting plenty of fiber and protein—which are the keys to staying energized.
Finally, you can get fiber from other sources like chia seeds, quinoa, oats and even popcorn (a great snack option during the day). Even chocolate contains some fiber, so go ahead and buy that fancy dark chocolate bar.
No matter what kind of diet you have, you can find sources of fiber that work for you. When you increase your fiber intake, you’ll feel healthier, fuller and more energized—and less likely to crash before the workday is over.
If you’re concerned about getting the right amount of fiber for your needs, be sure to talk to your doctor. They can help you determine the appropriate nutrient levels for your optimal health.