Guys there is a micronutrient that is feeling left out. Do many even consider it a nutrient at this point? Well, we all should be because it is essential to your overall well-being.
~It helps you stay satiated which can help with maintaining your weight
~It helps your body bed rid of excess toxins
~It keeps your colon healthy and clean
~Healthy digestion requires it
~Keeps cholesterol in check by helping to excrete excess from the body
~Helps keep your blood sugar normalized by slowing the entrance of nutrients into the blood stream via digestion.
And so much more.
Did you guess what I’m talking about yet?
Fibre Fibre Fibre, oh where do we begin…
Fibre is a necessity to life for more then the reasons than I mentioned about above. If I were to go into a lot of detail on all of those then this post would go on for eternity so, take my word for it that it’s a wee bit important.
One thing I wanted to really touch on was the importance of fibre for performance and body composition, as this is a fitness related post right?
So lets start with Body Composition
Because lets be honest, that is probably the first thing people will want to hear about.
So, I would say that the general relationship between body composition and fibre focuses on satiety. Satiety is a critical component of maintaining a healthy weight because it is what keeps your calories in check because, obviously if you’re full, most of you won’t eat more.
Also, if you really think about it, what foods are often higher in fibre? Well it’s not the highly processed ones. Nope, it’s your natural foods like fruits, grains, and vegetables. These are the foods that help keep you fuller for longer and can keep you from raiding your pantry 5 minutes after eating your meal.
Another thing about these foods is that they tend to be much lower calorie (Given appropriate portion sizes for things like grains and starches) than their lower fibre counterparts. So, despite filling you up more, they actually will contribute to your total caloric input much less.
What else affects your body composition?
Bloating –> If your gut is not healthy and things aren’t moving nicely, it can lead to poor waste removal and that build up not only makes you feel icky but often leads to water retention and bloating. By incorporating foods high in fibre you can keep your tummy happy and keep you feeling less puffy. Please note that the opposite is true here too! Too much fibre can wreck havoc on your gut and leading discomfort and gas, so watch how much roughage you eat. You’re not a herbivore with 2 stomachs, so don’t eat like one or you will suffer.
If you’re looking for some research, here was a study done in females that looked at the effect of increasing fibre on weight. What is particularly interesting was that they factored in exercise too. So, yes exercise can be a tool for keeping your weight steady, but even in those who exercised, when their fibre intake was lower, they actually gained more weight over the duration of the study. One conclusion made was that it appeared that fibres influence was most probably due to less of a caloric intake, which goes back to our whole satiety discussion.
So what about performance in athletes?
There aren’t really studies showing that fibre helps with performance directly per say, but obviously nutrition is critical for ones ability to perform at their best.
For one, if you’re not getting enough fibre then you may actually not be fuelling your body effectively for your craft. For example, if you’re fibre is low that may mean that you’re not taking in enough good sources of carbohydrates, which can lead to not having enough energy to supply your training. This could also mean that you’re not getting enough fruits and vegetables, which can also hinder performance as those are where the majority of the vitamins and minerals are which are often found as co-factors in energy releasing reactions.
Performance would also suffer if your gut is being a pain right? I know if my stomach is not happy, my performance in the gym suffers because 1. I have a lot of energy going towards trying to fix said tummy issue and 2. because I feel like crap so I’m distracted and off my game. Fibre helps the tummy so eat yo fibre rich foods!
Lastly, obviously body composition comes into play here as well. In many sports, weight maintenance is a big deal. If you are maintaining a healthy weight, you are often better able to be more efficient and perform more optimally than if you were overweight. Unfortunately, that is just a reality.
So overall, can we now give some love to this very critical micronutrient? It does way more for you then you can ever imagine! Despite being so simple to get, it’s one nutrient that is often overlooked and under consumed in our typical American diets these days.
If everyone got in the right amount of fibre, would we be having such a hard time with obesity? Hmmm..
So, take a look to nature a few times a day and get in some foods that boost up that fibre intake. And no, this doesn’t mean you have to eat like a rabbit and hate your life. Natural foods are yummy too, you just need to be a bit creative! Your body will thank you and you will be happier because you will have more energy and feel much more satisfied in the long run.
For specific daily intakes, there have been ball park estimates here and there. From Canada’s Food Guide (eww don’t like that thing) it says around 25-38g per day. The Canadian Diabetes Association says upwards of 50g for the upper limit which seems like a world of pain in my eyes. From the fitness community, I have heard that around 10-15g per 1000 cals is sufficient. So, I would say take an average, so anywhere from 25-35 seems reasonable to me, smaller number being for smaller people like females.