When it comes to nutrients for building lean muscle, most of us tend to focus on things like protein to build muscle and perhaps even fats these days to provide us with energy and testosterone. One thing that really doesn’t get much love anymore though is dietary fiber – which is odd seeing as it was once the big buzz word that everyone seemed so excited about.
So is fiber out? Can we forget our morning cereal? Not at all. In fact, fiber is just as important as ever and might well be the missing ingredient in your current program. Let’s take a look another look then at this forgotten ingredient and see why it’s so important.
What is Fiber?
Simply put, fiber is anything that your body can’t absorb and that thus provides roughage. We’re not talking about the marble you swallowed when you were a kid though – more stuff that you’re actually meant to eat.
That means that things like grains, roughage from vegetable skins, seeds etc. all provide fiber. These pass straight through your body and don’t get absorbed into your blood, thereby meaning they end up in the toilet in pretty much the same state they went into your body…
There are also two types of fiber, which are ‘soluble’ and ‘insoluble’. Soluble fiber is the type of fiber that can be broken down and turned into a gel or paste. Insoluble fiber meanwhile passes through just like bullets. It might be broken down smaller by your teeth and by your churning stomach but other than that it remains as is.
Why Fiber is Important?
So if you’re not actually getting anything out of your fiber, why is it so important? Basically, it’s because it can act like a little ‘cleaner’ for your internals. Because fiber passes straight through your body, that means that it can run through your digestive tract and brush aside anything that you don’t need. What’s more, it can also help you to feel fuller.
Combined, these two factors have a number of great benefits, including:
- Improved bowel movements
- Better digestion helps to improve absorption of all your nutrients – including your protein shakes
- Soluble fiber can pass through your blood and thereby sweeps it of cholesterol and fatty deposits called plaques
- Fiber can also help you to control your blood sugar and thereby is great for preventing lipogenesis (fat storage). It does this by slowing your absorption of carbs and fats.
- It also helps you to feel much fuller, thereby preventing snacking
How Much Fiber do You Need?
So just how much fiber do you need? Generally it’s recommended that guys under 50 years try to get about 38 grams a day. For women it’s 25 grams. If you’re older then you’ll need a little less – about 30 and 20 respectively.
Of course these are your RDAs and seeing as fiber is zero calorie there’s absolutely no harm in eating more. Other than potentially becoming a little too regular.
So to stop snacking, get more out of your nutrients and feel lighter and more energetic – try adding some roughage to your meals.