Fiber plays an important role in losing weight, maintaining stable energy levels, regulating blood sugar, managing your digestion, and controlling your hunger on a low carb diet. Although fiber is a carbohydrate, it doesn’t raise your blood sugar like other carbohydrates because it doesn’t convert to glucose. This is because your body doesn’t break down fiber, so it actually slows the entrance of glucose into your bloodstream, which reduces the blood-sugar spikes that cause insulin production and encourage the body to produce and store body fat. Fiber also helps you feel full longer, resulting in fewer food cravings.
You should be consuming between 25 grams and 35 grams of fiber a day, which I suggest breaking down into 8 grams to 10 grams of fiber with each meal. Start slowly and remember to drink plenty of water; too much fiber too soon could cause gas or bloating. Here are my tips for filling up with fiber and taking advantage of this powerful weight-loss tool:
- Track your fiber. I like to use the Atkins Mobile App to keep track of how many grams of fiber I am eating at each meal and snack.
- Go for veggies. Almost all non-starchy vegetables are naturally high in fiber, and you’re probably not eating enough! Pile tomatoes and avocado on your morning eggs, snack on cucumber slices with a dollop of tuna salad (keep the skin on the cucumber, and other fruits and veggies, for a bigger fiber boost) and enjoy a hearty salad for lunch. Cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts make excellent sides for your evening meal. This Zucchini and Jicama Salad works for any occasion, as do Artichokes with Lemon Butter.
- Don’t forget flax. Two tablespoons of flax seed has 7 grams of fiber. You can mix it in your Greek yogurt with raspberries or blackberries, top sprinkle it over salad. You can try this Flax Meal Pizza Crust, and pile on toppings such as artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, olives, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Or try Golden Flax Seed and Caraway Flatbreads, and spread on some mashed avocado (also high in fiber) for a low carb version of avocado toast.
- When You are Ready Go for whole grains. With Atkins, you’re eliminating the refined grains that a wreak havoc with your waistline and blood sugar levels. Whole grains are rich in fiber. Depending on your personal carb tolerance, you can enjoy steel-cut oats (instead of rolled oats), and try small amounts of hearty grains like quinoa, faro and barley. And high-fiber coconut flour is better than all-purpose flour. You can start with Low Carb Coconut Bread.
- Fruits have fiber. Low sugar fruits such as berries are much better for you than fruit juice (a half cup of raspberries adds 4 fiber grams, blackberries add 3.8 and blueberries or strawberries add 1.7) and kiwis (2.7 grams per fruit). When you eat your fruit with protein and/or fat (such as Greek yogurt, nuts, cheese or heavy cream), you slow the impact these natural sugars have on your blood sugar levels.
Once you focus on your fiber intake, you’ll find how much more satisfied you feel, while achieving your weight-loss goals.