So, you have been burning more fat than you ever could imagine with a keto diet. Bacon tastes well and life is good, right?
But, one thing worries you...
The bowel movement part of the game seems off: You either don't go there anymore or you only live there.
Is that normal?
Wondering if you are getting enough fiber on keto? Or how to get more fiber while rocking the keto diet?
Well, in this article we will cover what's going on with your body and what to do about it.
By now we all know that keto diet is effective and it gets results - you carb lose a lot of fat with way faster than with other diets.
However, because the keto diet cuts down on fiber-rich carbohydrates like fruits and grains, its common to experience bathroom problems while on keto.
Either not going there enough or going there too much. This can become a notable problem that can affect your everyday life.
Luckily, there are many ways to replace the lost fiber from your diet.
What's the deal with fiber in general?
Dietary fiber is an important part of any healthy diet plan. In Western cultures, the daily fiber consumption is more than half above the minimum amount recommended.
First, it's good to understand that not getting enough fiber isn't some keto exclusive problem. Most people are experiencing some level of fiber deficit because their food table doesn't consist of a big variety of foods and their diet is very one-sided.
While we talk about the importance of getting enough fiber during the day, it's interesting to note that fiber is actually something you don't actually digest. It is this type of material which helps to empty your bowels together with any harmful bacteria and toxins.
If you don't do it regularly you will start experiencing constipation, which, if not treated at the right time, can be a root cause for other problems. Fortunately, there are easy ways to find constipation relief, without the hassle.
Why do I need fiber anyway?
There are various reasons why you should keep an eye on your fiber Intake. Some are more tangible than others: like a regular bowel movement.
Regulates digestion (helps you poo)
If you are prone to being constipated or just starting out with keto, the chances are that you are going to experience constipation at least during the beginning of the diet. Bowel regularity is wonderful and necessary for an overall healthy body. Constipation and bowel movement is only one part of the equation.
Prevents many diseases
High Fiber Intake, has been linked as a good prevention mechanism for many chronic diseases and cancers: cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes (these trends have been spotted mainly in observational studies). Fiber helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing hypertension and lowering blood glucose levels. Also reduces LDL cholesterol and helps maintain body weight. Adequate fiber Intake maintains normal glucose levels, removes cholesterol from the blood and keeps the digestive tract clear.
How do you deal with constipation on the keto diet?
By now we know that fiber Intake is important and it is responsible for keeping your digestive tract clean. Problems occur when we start talking about keto diet.
As you may know, most fiber-rich foods are in fact high in carbohydrates, which makes it challenging for those eating a low-carb diet (like keto diet is) to consume enough fiber. Often, the very first weeks from your keto start, you will start experiencing constipation.
This is often overlooked, one may start looking for constipation relief only when things are getting out of hand. Constipation during keto diet isn't something that you should be ignored, although many of us choose to do it.
There's a cure for that, but more about that later on. Problematic bowel movement and constipation will become a big issue when you are planning to follow the keto diet as a lifestyle choice, not a one-time thing.
How much fiber should I need?
What is the best way to avoid constipation during the keto diet, or to get constipation relief? Get enough fiber.
There are many approaches to this: American national fiber recommendation is to get 30-38 grams a day for men and 25 grams a day for women between 18 and 50 years old.
Second general guideline (and more accurate based on my own experience) get 15 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories in your daily quota. Of course, it's also possible to get too much fiber which is also not good for your health.
How do I know that I'm not getting enough fiber?
Probably the very first clue, that you are not getting enough fiber is that you are experiencing constipation and bloating, or some irregularity in the GI tract and bowel movements.
Of course, there can be plenty of reasons for constipation, the fiber Intake is a good place to check first. Conversely, going from eating no fiber to loading up and eating too much will end with bloating and gas.
So, try to up your fiber Intake gradually. The second part of the bowel movements issue is that if your poop is in the wrong shape. If your bowel movements are small, hard, like pebbles, that's a good sign that you are not getting enough fiber.
How to get enough fiber on keto?
The debate, which is the best fiber sources during keto diet: whether you should take fiber supplements or try to get all the fiber from foods. Well, the answer is not that simple. In my experience, I can say that most people do need an extra fiber supplementation to their everyday diet - no matter if they are on keto or not.
This is mainly because not everyone is constantly focusing on getting low carb vegetables and fermented vegetables in large enough quantities, in order to maintain a healthy bowel movement. It's even worse when you are on a keto diet. There are not many choices when it comes to high fiber keto foods.
And let's don't forget that fiber is more than just a constipation treatment, it also provides a vital life environment for all the good bacteria that inhabit our intestinal tract.
For example, to get a typical 20-30 grams of fiber for a diet around 1500-2000 calories per day, you should be basically eating all your carbs from flaxseeds (3g per tablespoon). In that moment you may have to choose between keto and your fiber goals?
Not necessarily. From here you have 2 options, either take fiber supplements or adjust your diet with high fiber foods if possible.
Fiber rich foods
The first place to look for, when we would like to correct our fiber Intake is food. But what are the best high fiber keto foods which are also low carb? We will go over them here:
Green vegetables are full of fiber and are also low in carbohydrates. For example, brussels sprouts and cabbage contain approximately 4 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of carbs per cup.
Eating these non-starchy vegetables regularly will provide you an adequate amount of fiber while keeping your carbs to a minimum.
Examples of high fiber green vegetables: Asparagus, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Spinach
Flaxseeds truly are awesome, because one tablespoon of whole flaxseeds contains 3 grams of fiber and ground flaxseeds contain 2 grams of fiber per tablespoon.
Sprinkle flaxseeds on salads, vegetables or add them to low carb smoothies.
Avocado is one of the best fiber sources in the keto diet. Avocados are loaded with fiber. The flesh is creamy, fatty and savory. Avocados are also one of the best sources of monounsaturated fatty acids that are vital for lowering LDL cholesterol.
100 grams of avocados consists of 6.7 grams of dietary fiber (and around 1 gram of net carbs). You can also blend avocados with coconut water and your favorite seasonings to create a delicious low-carb dressing to pour over salads or lean meats.
High fiber foods are essential for a proper bowel movement, but they are not always enough, especially during a keto diet. But how to choose the best keto fiber sources?
First, there are many good supplements to help you with keto diet. Fiber supplements (for keto diet) should be the sugar-free and low carb. But fortunately there are alternatives to high carb high fiber foods, like low carb fiber supplements described below:
The fiber in Psyllium Husk comes from the seed husks of the Plantago ovata plant. NOW Psyllium Husk is mainly used to relieve constipation that is related to low carb diets.
The fiber tablets are meant to take as a supplement and not meant for dissolving in water.
Price is pretty inexpensive but contains less fiber per serving (opposed to Optimum Nutrition Fitness Fiber).
Optimum Nutrition is a well known high-quality supplement company, which they are known for in the fitness community.
Fitness fiber comes in unflavoured powder form and offers a great 5 grams of fiber per serving and is a combination of 6 fiber sources. It is also reasonably priced. One of the biggest positive factors is that it has more grams of fiber per serving than most of the competitors.
Additionally, it's not marketed as officially sugar-free, but based on nutrition label we can say that this is one of the strongest competitors when it comes to the best sugar-free fiber supplement.
This is made 100% of natural Acacia Senegal, from a special tree in Sudan.
Heather's Tummy Fiber is a natural sugar-free supplement that is used to treat a broad range of digestive and abdominal problems.
Its gluten free, organic and also acts as a prebiotic. It offers around 2 grams of fiber per serving.
Most fiber sources are actually carbohydrates. It can be tricky to get enough fiber when you have removed all the carbs from your menu.
If you are on a keto diet (or low carb diet) then fiber can help you to reduce the effect carbs have on the bloodstream.
The good thing is also, that fiber will fill you up just as carbs do, but just without the sugar spike.
Alex is editor in chief of Bodyketosis, an author, low-carb enthusiast and a recovering chubby guy who reclaimed his health using the ketogenic lifestyle. The need for the keto life began after his aunt and cousin were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and he was next in line. Through personal experience and extensive scientific research, Alex offers insightful tips for everything keto.