Grass Fed Beef It Should Be Whats for Dinner

Grass fed beef, in the last ten years this has become one of those trendy food items. While typically associated as a boujee Whole Food’s only type of product for the wealthy and elite, grass fed beef has made its way into most conventional grocery stores across America. However, many may be wondering what’s the deal with this grass fed beef stuff? Is it worth the extra money? Is it even any healthier? Today I’ll give you a brief overview of why I believe you should be eating grass fed beef if your going to eat beef.

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Prior to CAFO’s cows lives looked like this…

A Brief History of Agricultural in the 21st Century and how it applies to grass fed Beef

To understand why grass fed beef is so important, and why you should be eating it, one must first understand very generally the history of agriculture in the United States. To summarize briefly, towards the end of the industrial revolution the United States began what was the industrialization and commercialization of the agricultural industry. The aim of was to fulfill the public’s demand for more food for less money. In particular the advent of fast food (aka McDonald’s) demanded large amounts of animal products (specifically beef) for cheap to market to the public as delicious quick and cheap. This lead to the industrialization of raising animals in what are known today as CAFO’s or concentrated animal feeding operations. In a nutshell here is what constitutes a CAFO: the animal must be confined for at least 45 days during its growing phase, there is no vegetation, and the it meets certain size thresholds (usually in the 10’s of thousands and up). Prior to this small farmers mainly produced our food and raised animals on pasture allowing them space to roam and live out their lives they way they were supposed to.

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What Cow’s lives look like now on CAFOs…

Unfortunately, the effects of producing large quantities of cheap meat, was and continues to be one of the most detrimental decisions for American’s health. Here’s why. During the 1950’s it was first discovered, that calves fed a corn based diet (60-80%) gained significantly more weight than their traditionally grass fed brothers and sisters. It was also found that corn fed animals produced higher amounts of intramuscular fat, aka marbling, which what you contributes to the rich moist flavor in a nice piece of beef. The beef industry continued to flourish hitting record numbers in the 1970’s, it was also around this time that taste corn fed beef had become the public’s preference and basically things haven’t changed much since then. Corn feed beef dominates grocery stores in the United States, if you pick up a piece of beef (and any other form of meat for that matter, including fish) you can bet your bottom dollar that the animal you are about to consume consumed corn.

What’s the problem with Corn?

At this point you must be wondering, what’s the issue with corn? Frist let me point out when I say corn, I am not speaking of sweet corn that you eat a bowl of for dinner. We are talking about field corn, which is primarily grown to feed animals, which we then eat. The problem is with feeding animals field corn. Here’s the problem with feeding animals (particularly cows) field corn: animals are not supposed to eat corn!!!! As a result we have meat products that are wreaking havoc on our health. First, understand cows are meant to eat grass and other foraged materials. Cows are not supposed to eat corn, when they do a plethora of things happen. The first is that it makes them sick. Cows fed corn become bloated, are more susceptible to liver abscesses, and e.coli. Also, because Corn is high in phosphorous and low in calcium, cows are susceptible to kidney stones. You must also understand to combat all the damage the corn does to cow, farmers then pump their animals full of drugs to keep them alive long enough to make weight. If all of that wasn’t bad enough cows fed corn produce meat that is less nutritionally dense than traditionally grass fed animals. Red meat in general is high in vitamin b6, b12, iron, selenium and zinc. However, grass fed beef is even more nutritious providing all those health benefits and more including providing bio-available vitamin A and E, selenium, potassium, iron, and sodium, as well as containing OMEGA 3 fatty acids. 

 

 

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Corn Fed (left) VS. Grass Fed (right). Notice the color and size difference

The major difference between corn fed and grass fed beef health wise

Here is the major difference between corn fed and grass fed beef. When you feed cows corn their fat content is high in what are called OMEGA 6 fatty acids, when you feed cows what they are meant to eat those cows fat content is high in what are called OMEGA 3 fatty acids. OMEGA 3 and 6 fatty acids are both essential for human health. However, there is meant to be an ideal ratio between OMEGA 3 and OMEGA 6’s of 1:1. Due to the nature of the modern diet the typical American’s OMEGA 3 to OMEGA 6 ratio is 1:20! This is extremely bad for health, as the role of OMEGA 6’s is to promote inflammation. While this has value and some inflammation is needed, i.e. to help your blood clot when you get cut, too much inflammation can wreak havoc on your health. In fact inflammation is arguably the main cause of most of our chronic diseases. Some of the diseases related to inflammation:

  • Visible signs of aging like wrinkles.
  • Susceptibility to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections.
  • Acid reflux
  • Cancer
  • Skin conditions like psoriasis and acne.
  • Arthritis
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic pain
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart disease
  • Candidiasis
  • Urinary tract infections

If that wasn’t enough…

If all the health reasons to start incorporating grass fed beef weren’t enough, here a few more reasons I recommend to all my clients to eat grass fed beef. CAFO’s (concentrated animal feeding operations) are hellish disturbing places with animals crammed together shitting themselves (and that’s why you get e.coli) with no access to vegetation or land to roam. There miserable lives are spent consuming unnatural quantities of corn, sick, diseased, and many times on the verge of death before they are even ready to be slaughtered.

Even, if you don’t have a soft spot for animals like I do, understand that the people who work in these CAFO’s and slaughterhouses are treated horrendous. The majority of these workers are immigrants (many illegal) or people of color (mainly Black and Hispanic). Paid little, working in disgusting, many times illegal conditions, being a worker in the industrialized farming industry raising and killing animals is a unfortunate reality of the modern food industry, a reality you are directly help perpetuate if you are consuming corn fed beef.

Lastly, grass fed beef just tastes better. I know this is mainly a personal preference, but in my opinion and many others, grass fed beef has a richer more “meaty” taste. It tends to be leaner and even has a slightly different texture.

I understand that grass fed beef is more expensive, and I’m not going to lie it is expensive. However, realize the way you choose to spend your money particularity on food is powerful. Your dollars are votes; every time you buy a piece of food you are supporting the process and the ideology behind how that piece of food got to you. Every time you buy corn fed beef you support bad health, short cuts, human rights violations, and tortured animals. The choice is yours.

LETS GET BETTER TOGETHER.

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How to make your own weight Gainer

Most of my recipes are aimed at being healthy and delicious, while being lower in calories. This is mainly because the majority of my clients are focused on fat loss and loosing weight. However,  I decided that I need to show some love to the “hard gainers” and my clients looking to increase their weight.

There are already 100’s of different weight gainer supplements on the market. They are typically a mixture of protein, cheap forms of simple carbohydrates like maltodexttrin or dextrose, and potentially some sort of fat component but that is largely dependent on the brand. The amount of calories per serving varies, but can be anywhere from 750-1500 calories! Assuming you only took one serving per day, 750-1000 calories a day is alot of calories to consume from such a nutrient poor and nutritional devoid product.

Instead, you can save your money, taste buds, and healthy simply by making your own. If you add one of these to your current food intake, I can almost garuntee those “hardgainers” out there will gain weight.

 

Recipe: Makes 1 Weight  Gainer Shake (Can be divided into two servings)

 

Ingredients:

2 Frozen Bananas

1/2 Cup of Oat Powder** See Below

2 Cups of Whole Milk ( you can us lower fat milk, or a milk substitute, but whole milk has significantly more calories than your other options)

2 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter (or your nut butter of choice)

1 Tablespoon of Cocoa (optional)

2 Scoops of Protein Powder (your favorite brand will work)

Directions:

1. Assemble all your ingredients.

2. To make oat powder simply take 1/2 cup of old fashioned oatmeal and add it to a blender or food processor. When it reaches a fine almost fine flour like consistency its ready. You can do this in large quantities also to prepare for future use. 

3. Blend together in blender. Add the peanut butter last, to avoid it getting stuck to the blender. Enjoy ! I would highly recommend drinking this as soon as possible, as the longer you let it set, the more it will become like cement in consistency.  

 

Nutrition:

Per 1 serving

Calories: 1183 cal

Protein: 91 grams

Carbs: 110 grams

Fat: 40 grams

Fiber: 7 grams

 

 

 

 

 

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Stop Dieting: Develop a Dietary Lifestyle

Dieting is not productive. Nearly all who attempt to “diet” will eventually fall off their diet. And while most will loose weight during their dieting period, once they revert back to their old eating habits, they will unfortunately gain back the weight lost during the dieting period they worked so hard to loose. This failure is not due to a lack of effort, or an inability to show self-discipline, the simple fact is, is that diets don’t work. The human body wants to maintain homeostasis at all times, meaning change does not come easy. This is especially important if you are looking to loose weight, specifically excess body fat, and more importantly keep that body fat off. You don’t need a “diet” you need to transform your current dietary habits long term, meaning constantly working at forming and more importantly sustaining a healthy and suitable dietary lifestyle that’s tailored to YOU.

I do not believe in having clients follow specific “diets” (i.e. the Keto diet, the Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, Juicing diets, or bizarre cabbage soup diets) because dieting is a short-term solution to a life long problem. The way you eat, and how you choose to eat is something that you will have to confront until the day you die. What your specific dietary habits look like depend on so many factors including: dietary preferences, fitness goals, health, culture, schedule, and finances. Because of these numerous factors effecting the way one eats, the expectation that people can adhere to diets that are not compatible with the rest of their lifestyle is ridiculous. Therefore, I advise that instead of going on a diet, people work to develop dietary lifestyles that best help them achieve their goals and work best with their lives.

Determining the Appropriate Dietary Lifestyle for You

The following are the questions necessary to figure out how and what you should be eating on a daily basis. The answers to these questions are dependent on you and your individual needs, goals, and preferences. I urge you to actually answer these questions as seriously and thoughtfully as possible to get you started on the right track.

What is the appropriate amount of calories for you and your lifestyle/goals?

This is the most basic information you should be aware of. You can find many calorie calculators out there that can clarify this question. Or you can higher a fitness professional or dietician to help you. Many apps like MyfitnessPal can determine your approximate caloric needs. The amount of calories you should consume will vary depending on your individual biology, your goals, and your activity level.

What are your fitness goals if any? How does this change your dietary needs?

Depending on your fitness goals, your diet must change to help you optimally reach your goals. What does this mean? Refer to the following common examples for general dietary guidelines depending on fitness goal:

  • Fat Loss – To achieve this goal you need to be in a caloric deficit for a prolonged period of time (eat less calories than you burn). You need to keep your protein intake high (around 1.5-2.0 grams/kilogram of bodyweight), keep your carbohydrate intake moderate to low (1.5-2 grams/kilogram of bodyweight) , and your fat intake moderate to high (1.25-1.5 grams/kilogram of bodyweight). You should be aiming to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and should be hitting your daily fiber recommendations. Protein should be included at most if not all meals. Protein and healthy fats should be the main components of this diet.
  • Hypertrophy (Muscle Gain)- To achieve this goal you need to be in a caloric surplus for a prolonged period of time (eat more calories than you burn). You need to keep your protein intake moderate (around 1.2-1.7 grams/kilogram of bodyweight), keep your carbohydrate intake high (3-4 grams/kilogram of bodyweight) and your fat intake moderate (.8-1. gram/kilogram of bodyweight) You should be aiming to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and be hitting your daily fiber recommendations. Carbohydrates and protien are the main component of this diet.

Most peoples’ fitness goals will fit into the above two categories. Figuring out which category you fit in will help you determine what your general diet should look like in terms of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats). ***Remember these are just guidelines (however quite solid guidelines), but you will need to experiment and find the perfect combination of macronutrients for you. Regardless of your dietary habits fruits and vegetables should be included at all times in hefty amounts. This is one commonality that I personally believe should exist between all dietary lifestyles.

What do you like to eat?

Now that you know your caloric and macronutrient needs, you can start the fun process: choosing the foods you enjoy to fit your caloric and macronutrient “budget”! This is where you get to explore your own food preferences. Dieting or eating to reach a fitness goal should not be torture or something that is unsustainable. The only way to achieve success with long-term goals is to find a sustainable dietary lifestyle that you can maintain for life; therefore it has to be somewhat enjoyable.

How much money do you have to spend on food?

This is probably the biggest factor in determining your dietary lifestyle. Regardless of your budget there is a way to work with it to achieve your goals. My biggest piece of advice: buy what is on sale as opposed to just what you want. This means getting your grocery store’s sale paper each week and thinking ahead of time of what you can buy given your budget. This also means learning to cook. I recommend learning to cook 6 dishes you enjoy really well that way you can constantly change up your meals up. This is what I do every Sunday. I take about an hour to look over the sale paper and determine what I will cook for the week based on what is on sale. Granted , I am quite proficient in the kitchen and have been cooking since I was a child, everyone reading this post has access to the internet and can easily look up recipes for ingredients that are on sale. The more creative you are, the more fun this will be. Another tip for saving money on food is buying in bulk or wholesale. Getting a membership to Costco or BJ’s can be very effective especially for someone who needs to eat a lot of food to achieve their goals.

How much time do you have to cook?

Your own personal schedule will determine how much time each day and week you can put aside to cook. This means that meal prep is an attractive method to ensure you have healthy and delicious meals through out the week without spending much time per day cooking. If you don’t want to do meal prep you should at least have some sort of meal plan so you have consistent meals you eat on most days. The amounts of meals you prep or plan will depend on your personal goals. If you can afford it, ordering food from a meal prep company is also an attractive option.

Think of foods that cause allergic or adverse reactions?

Once you have a general idea of what you want to eat on a regular basis, you must take into account whatever allergies you have. This is common sense but must be said. For example, if you need a vast amount of protein in your diet, but are allergic to lactose, whey protein and dairy products are not good choices.

Conclusion

With the answers to these questions you can now begin to start forming a dietary lifestyle that fits your own personal needs and preferences. Hopefully this will become a dietary lifestyle that you can sustain for at least long enough to achieve your goals, but hopefully for the rest of your life. It’s not easy at first but you can do it! Understand that this is just a transition period to a new lifestyle that will be sustainable, healthy, and most important enjoyable, not only for your body, but for your mind and your whole being as well!

 

 

 

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How to optimize fat loss according to science part I

Everyone wants to loose body fat. In a country where almost 70% of the population overweight or obese, loosing weight is by far the most popular fitness goal.

Here’s the secret. The truth of the matter is, for the most part there is no secret.  Loosing body fat is a result of utilizing more calories (in the form of stored fat) then you consume (in the form of food and beverages). This is the most important part of fat loss. While exercise is most definitely essential for optimal fat loss (the second most important aspect of fat loss), caloric restriction is still more important. Think of it this way how much time does it take to reduce your caloric intake by 500kcal? Really no time at all. Its more of a decision to be committed and consistent with eating less. Once you decide to do this its an immediate decrease in caloric consumption. On the other hand how long does it take to burn 500kcal with exercise? This truly depends on the individual and the type of exercise, but for most it will take some time. An individual weighing 155 pounds burn 500 calories walking 4 miles per hour for 90 minutes. That’s a huge difference between an immediate decision to rid your diet of 500 excess kcals or an hour and a half on the treadmill each day to burn 500 kcals.

The truth is you do not need the newest diets, you don’t need OTC supplements, and you don’t need to restrict yourself of whichever macronutrients and foods the popular media is telling you are making you gain fat (think carbs, fat, gluten, meat, sugar, dairy, nuts, fruit basically everything but water). What you really need for fat loss is caloric restriction, discipline, and commitment. Fat loss is not an easy or quick process.

One thing many people do not realize is that fat loss and health are not 1:1. Indeed, there are many overweight people who are extremely healthy and many thin and people of healthy weights who have metabolic dysfunctions. Understand this, loosing fat is not about being healthy, at least in a direct way. While I am not and have never advocated eating an unhealthy diet to loose weight (even the word “healthy” is not a concrete and definable term, any educated nutritionist or dietician will tell you this ) the simple truth is you can eat shit and still shed body fat. Anecdotally well all know this. Most of us have encountered the guy who eats whatever he wants and has a 6 pack. Or the girl who could care less about the quality of her food decisions and is thin all year round. Studies have proved this as well. There are many cases of nutritionists eating”unhealthy” foods and loosing large amounts of weight, this professor lost lost 27lbs in 2 months eating Twinkies.  This study found that there was no correlation between junkfood was unrelated to BMI for 95% of individuals. My own personal anecdote supports this as well, I lost close to 50lbs in a matter of 4.5 months all the while eating desert every single day. Yes everyday. ***The silver lining to this is that the rest of my diet was on point. I ate adequate protein, more than enough vegetables and fruit, plenty of water,  appropriate amounts of fiber, and supplemented with Omega 3’s. I went from 265-270lb at around 20% bodyfat, down to 220lb to around 9% bodyfat. The key is actually sticking to the amount of food you need to eat to loose weight.

However, while caloric restriction and exercise are the main pillars of fat loss, there are many tricks and tips to increase your chances for success. Here are 6 ways to optimize fat loss!

1. Eat more fiber, but not too much

As I discuss in my article here most people are not eating enough fiber. Many times this lack of fiber can cause bloating and a distended stomach. A lack of fiber causes slower transit time of food through the intestines, meaning you’ll have food hanging out in your colon for longer periods of time. Many times this bloat can cause the illusion of body fat and simply by increasing your fiber intake will take inches off your waistline. However, on the other hand consuming excessive amounts of fiber can cause also cause bloat! So as with everything, especially with diet,  the key is moderation. For more on fiber recommendations check out my fiber article.

2. Do more Cardio

Not everyone has to do cardio to loose weight. However, if your not one of the blessed few who don’t hold fat around their waist, or just don’t hold much fat at all, you are going to have to do cardio to optimize fat loss around your waistline. Stubborn fat is actually somewhat different from the rest of fat throughout your body. Stubborn fat is typically the fat around most women’s waist and thighs, and most men’s lower stomach and back. Stubborn fat experiences less less blood flow than fat found elsewhere in the body, and is less sensitive to the fat mobilizing effects of the catecholamines (bad for fat loss), and more sensitive to insulin (bad for fat loss) (1). Because of these conditions stubborn fat is generally the last fat to be lost in a fat loss phase.  Men trying to get below 12% and women below 19% will notice these are the areas where fat takes the longest to remove. Doing more aerobic exercise will increase blood flow to these “stubborn” areas and help mobilize triglycerides aka body fat.

3. Increase the amount of water you drink and minimize all other liquid calories 

It’s a fact that most people don’t drink enough water. Drinking water is essential for fat loss. In fact drinking more water than necessary can help you loose more bodyfat. Drinking adequate/excessive water helps burn more calories by increasing resting metabolic rate or RMR (2). This study found that  increasing water intake by 1 liter per day can help burn an extra 23 kcal a day (3). Over the curse of a year that’s roughly  17,000 kcal or almost 5 lb of fat! You should also consider minimizing all other liquid calories. While there is nothing inherently wrong with drinking a cup of juice or having a beer here and there, but the truth is if fat loss is your goal you should really consider minimizing if not completely ridding your diet of liquid calories. Liquid calories are not processed by the brain the same way solid whole foods are (4). Therefore, many people have a tendency to drink too many liquid calories and in turn eat excessive amounts of calories which translate to fat gain (5).

4. Eat More Protein

Protein is one of the most valuable tools you have for fat loss. Protein does two valuable things for fat loss. One, protein increases satiety, meaning you are more satisfied and less likley to overeat when eating higher amounts of protein in your diet. Protein can also reduce cravings and help make you eat less calories overall (6). Two, protein can actually increase the amount of calories you burn each day (7). This is because of what is known as the thermic effect of food. All food you consumed must be “processed” by the body to be utilized, during this “processing” your body actually burns calories. As it turns out protein burns more calories than fat or carbohydrates. For example if you eat 200kcal or protein your body will actually burn 40-70kcal of that 200kcal in digestion.

most importantly

5. Track what you Eat

This is the one thing most people don’t want to do. But its so necessary, because if your not measuring your food how will you know what your actually eating??? Many people make claims about their diet, “I don’t eat that much!”, “I NEVER eat!”, “I eat plenty of protein!”, ” I’m avoiding sugar!”, the list goes on. The fact is, most people aren’t truly consistent with their diet. Unless you’ve got a food scale with you at every meal you really are just guessing. And to a certain degree for most people’s goals estimating is close enough to achieve their goals. However, if you want to OPTIMIZE progress in terms of fat loss, tracking food is key. Because the reality is loosing fat isn’t “eating healthy” for one day, or guessing that you were in a caloric deficit for a day, need to be aware of how much you are eating consistently for period of several months to even years depending on how much fat loss you desire. In fact keeping a food diary is so important that this huge study found that those who kept a food diary lost almost double the amount of weight compared to those who did not (8).  Loosing 20lbs of fat takes more than 2 weeks, I don’t care who says it does. Loosing weight takes time and effort. If you are really serious about loosing weight you will track food This is a foolproof way to loose weight, if you are tracking food and hitting your caloric needs each day you will loose weight. 

 

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At my heaviest 265-270lb “Eating Clean”
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After learning how to apply these tricks at my lightest 215lb. I ate 1 small desert EVERYDAY

6. Reward yourself

Rewarding yourself is necessary for fat loss,especially for sustained long term fat loss. One of the main reasons people give up on their fat loss goals is because compliance to strict diets. While you do need to make sure your on top of your caloric intake as much as possible, diet breaks and cheat meals/days are actually good ways to increase your adherence to a fat loss phase. I personally have found that leaving around 5-10% of my total caloric intake each day for a small reward for doing well on my diet that day (so unfortunately the smaller your caloric intake the smaller the reward, this is where having more lean mass comes in handy). Some days I choose to forgo this and wait until the weekend to have a bigger reward for even longer adherence to my currently dietary goals. Eventually, this can sometimes become a game where you challenge yourself to adhere to you diet for X amount of days to get to a reward. While I don’t recommend all out cheat days that frequently, I do think that weekly cheat meals or daily cheat snacks are a great way to maintain adherence to a diet for much longer than if you set unrealistic standards.

 

Sources:

1. Mcdonald, Lyle.2003. The Ultimate Diet 2.0. 1st Edition. Austin, Texas: Lyle Mcdonald Publishing. 

2.Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL, Flack KD, Savla J, Davy KP, Davy BM. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010; 18: 300–307.

3. Stookey JD, Constant F, Popkin BM, Gardner CD. Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2008;16:2481–8.

4. Mattes RD, Campbell WW. Effects of food form and timing of ingestion on appetite and energy intake in lean young adults and in young adults with obesity. J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109:430–7.

5. Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review.Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84:274–288.

6. Veldhorst MA, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Westerterp KR. Gluconeogenesis and energy expenditure after a high-protein, carbohydrate-free diet.Am J Clin Nutr 2009;90: 519–526.

7. Johnston CS, Day CS, Swan PD. Postprandial thermogenesis is increased100%on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women. J Am Coll Nutr 2002;21:55–61.

8.Hollis JF, Gullion CM, Stevens VJ, Brantley PJ, Appel LJ, Ard JD,Champagne CM, Dalcin A, Erlinger TP, Funk K, Laferriere D, Lin PH,Loria CM, Samuel-Hodge C, Vollmer WM, Svetkey LP; Weight Loss Maintenance Trial Research Group. Weight loss during the intensive intervention phase of the weight-loss maintenance trial.Am J Prev Med. 2008;35:118 –126.

 

 

 

Dietary Fiber Part I: You Aren’t Eating Enough

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Dietary fiber. It’s the least sexy macronutrient especially when compared to fat and protein which are always hot topics in the realm of nutritional and food science. However, while fiber is largely under-discussed it indeed plays a vital role in overall health. Unfortunately, as a result of our current food culture in America less than 3% (1) of Americans consume adequate fiber on a regular basis.

What is fiber?

Simply put dietary fiber is the part of plants or other carbohydrates that resist digestion and absorption in the small intestine.(2) It is important to note that there are two kinds of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is fiber that in the in the presence of water breaks down and forms a gel like substance. Soluble forms of fiber include: pectin, gum and mucilage. Insoluble forms of fiber include: hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin (the materiel that makes wood rigid yet playable). Most foods contain a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, yet there are exceptions where only form of fiber is found more abundantly in certain foods.

Main benefits of dietary fiber

Both soluble and insoluble fiber play different roles in our health. Soluble fiber is fiber responsible for lowering blood glucose and cholesterol levels.(3) In contrast, insoluble fiber is responsible for increasing the transit time of food through the digestive system as well as decreasing constipation and increasing fecal bulk making passing stool (aka poop) easier.(4) Lastly, while the research is somewhat conflicting insoluble dietary fiber appears to improve satiety.(5) Meaning higher fiber foods are a great way to stay full while trying to loose weight. There are various other health benefits and potential health benefits of dietary fiber including decreased risk of colon cancer, decreased risk of food allergy development, decreasing the risk for coronary heart disease, and longevity) however these will be addressed in a future article.

How much fiber should you eat?

As with just about everything the answer to this question depends context. In this case the context of your diet will determine the appropriate amount of dietary fiber for you. For most, approximately 10-14 grams of fiber per 1000kcal consumed will be appropriate. (6) As you can see the amount of dietary fiber you should consume will vary greatly based on the total amount of food you consume each day. For example, someone consuming 1500kcal a day will need approximately 21 grams of fiber a day. While on the other hand someone like myself eating approximately 4500kcal a day will require closer to 63 grams a day!

Foods High in Fiber

If you find yourself constantly slacking in the fiber department here are some high fiber foods to start eating more of:

 

  • Berries like raspberries and blackberries (7g/per cup)
  • Apples with the skin on (4.4 g)
  • Pears with the skin on (5.5 g)
  • Black beans (15g/cup)
  • Lentils (15g/cup)pexels-photo-176169-large
  • Brown Rice (3.5g/cup)
  • Oats (5g/cup)
  • Pearled barley (6 g per cup)
  • Popcorn ( 3.5 g/ 3 cups)
  • Broccoli  (5 g /cup)
  • Green peas  (9 g/cup)
  • Avocados (9g/cup)
  • Flaxseeds (3.3g/tbsp)
  • Cocoa powder (2g/tbsp)

 

My tips for Increasing Fiber intake:

1. Eat more whole foods. Period. If you eat a diet high in whole foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, various forms of plant based starches) then getting adequate fiber should not be a problem. However, the majority of people do not eat a diet rich in whole foods. On the most basic level simply adding more whole foods will instantly increase your fiber intake and do your colon proud. 2. Stop peeling your vegetables and fruit! This is another small dietary adjustment that can make a significant difference in your fiber intake.When you remove the flesh from fruits in vegetables you are basically throwing nutritious fiber away. 3. Eat more COCOA! Yup, this is one of my favorite secret sources of fiber, with a whopping 2 grams/tbsp its a delicious and sneaky way to get more fiber in addition to being high well other healthful nutrients such as minerals, flavanoids, and antioxidants! (7) You can throw cocoa powder in whatever you enjoy the flavor of chocolate in. I personally generally use about 2 tbsp whenever making a protein shake, or mix it into oatmeal in the morning. 4. Start eating beans and legumes weekly. As you can see above beans are basically the one stop shop for fiber. 1 cup of black beans has almost half the daily recommended amount of fiber for someone eating a 2000 kcal diet.

Note that this is just a brief outline of dietary fiber and the role it plays in our health. In the second part of this series I will dive more deeply into the research regarding dietary fiber and the potential negatives of too much fiber.

Citations:

  1. Agricultural Research Service; U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary
    fiber (g): usual intakes from food and water, 2003–2006, compared to
    adequate intakes. What we eat in America, NHANES 2003–2006.
  2. D Mudgil, S Barak.Composition, properties and health benefits of indigestible carbohydrate polymers as dietary fiber: A review. International journal of biological macromolecules 2013;( 66), 2-4
  3. Lisa Brown et al. Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber.American Journal of  Clinical Nutrition 1999; 60(1): 30-42
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