The Best Fiber Supplements for a Low-Carb Diet
About the Author:
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
On most low-carb diet plans, your meals consist of meats and poultry, eggs, cheese and limited amounts of nonstarchy veggies, such as leafy greens. The initial phase — which usually lasts two or three weeks — is often the strictest, making it challenging to get the recommended daily amount of fiber. For this reason, dieters may choose to take a fiber supplement. It’s best to get the bulk of your nutrients, including fiber, from food. Once this phase is over, make sure to choose your foods wisely so that you get enough fiber in your diet.
The Scoop on Fiber
Two types of fiber are found in your diet, soluble and insoluble. Together, these indigestible parts of plants aid wellness. A fiber-rich diet helps keep your digestive system healthy by reducing constipation and diseases that affect the colon. Fiber also reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes while helping to lower cholesterol. You get both types of fiber from foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and other legumes. These foods are off-limits during the strictest phase of a low-carb diet, so a fiber supplement can help increase your fiber intake.
Choosing the Best Fiber Supplement
A wide variety of fiber supplements line store shelves, and they come in powders, chewables and capsules. The type of fiber used as the active ingredient varies, too. You’ll find psyllium, wheat dextrin, inulin and methylcellulose as the most common supplemental fibers, but psyllium is the only one proven to help lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and heart disease risk, according to the National Fiber Council. Psyllium is also the most widely studied of the types of fiber used in fiber supplements. It comes from the husk of the Plantago ovata plant, and because it has been shown to have similar health benefits as fiber from real foods, psyllium is the best choice.
Considerations When Taking Fiber Supplements
Fiber absorbs water from the digestive system and expands, which makes it crucial that you drink enough water while taking fiber supplements. In addition to drinking plenty of water throughout the day, drink at least 8 ounces of water when you take your fiber supplement. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 recommends that you get 25 grams of fiber per day if you’re a woman and 30 grams if you’re a man. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, American women ages 20 to 39 only get 15 grams of fiber daily, while men in the same age range get 18 grams. These amounts are well short of the recommended 25 grams for women and 30 grams for men. If you’re not used to getting enough fiber, you may experience some digestive side effects from a supplement, such as flatulence, bloating and abdominal discomfort, but these side effects usually go away as your body adjusts.