Including good sources of fibre in your diet is not only effective for bodybuilders and athletes but is important for the general population as well, if not even more important as these are the people commonly suffering from the symptoms that fibre works to reduce.
What fibre essentially is is the part of the plant that is indigestible by the human system (Jones, P., 2002). There are two main types of fibre.
The first type is soluble fibre. This type of fibre feeds intestinal bacteria, which then convert it to short chain fatty acids. These than have very positive effects on the body such as inhibiting the growth of yeast and disease causing bacteria and help reduce the risk of cancer of the large intestine.
They also help lower blood cholesterol levels by reducing the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver (Galland, Leo, 1997). This type of fibre dissolves in water and forms a gel like substance and helps to regulate blood sugar levels. The second type of fibre is insoluble fibre. This type does not dissolve in water, but instead acts on intestinal toxins and plays an important role in the prevention of colon and breast cancer.
Here is a table showing common foods and their total, soluble and insoluble fibre counts.
|Food||Serving Size||Total fibre (gms)||Soluble Fibre (gms)||Insoluble Fibre (gms)|
|Apple, with skin||1 medium||2.7||1.0||1.7|
|Pear, Bartlett||1 medium||4||0.8||3.2|
|Prunes, dried||4 each||3.1||1.3||1.8|
|Beans, green, cooked||1/2 cup||2.0||0.8||1.2|
|Broccoli, raw||1/2 cup||1.5||0.1||1.4|
|Brussels Sprouts, Cooked||1/2 cup||3.6||7.7||1.9|
|Carrot, raw||1 medium||2.6||1.1||1.5|
|Cauliflower, raw||1/2 cup||1||0.4||0.6|
|Celery, raw||1/2 cup||0.9||0.2||0.7|
|Corn, cooked||1/2 cup||4.7||0.2||4.4|
|Lettuce, Butterhead||1 cup||1.3||0.6||0.7|
|Lettuce, Iceberg||1 cup||1||0.3||0.7|
|Lettuce, Romaine||1 cup||0.7||0.3||0.4|
|Peas, cooked||1/2 cup||4.4||1.2||3.2|
|Pepper, green, raw||1/2 cup||0.9||0.3||0.6|
|Potato, with skin||1 medium||2.4||0.6||1.8|
|Sweet potato, peeled||1 medium||3.4||1.7||1.7|
|Dried Beans and Peas (cooked)|
|Black-eyed peas||1/2 cup||4.1||0.5||3.6|
|Garbonzo beans||1/2 cup||4.0||1.2||2.8|
|Kidney beans||1/2 cup||8.2||3.6||4.6|
|Pinto beans||1/2 cup||10.3||3.9||6.4|
|Split peas||1/2 cup||3.4||1.1||2.4|
|Pumpernickel bread||1 slice||2.3||1||1.3|
|Rye bread||1 slice||1.6||0.7||0.9|
|Sourdough bread||1 slice||0.7||0.2||0.5|
|White bread||1 slice||0.6||0.3||0.3|
|Whole wheat bread||1 slice||2.2||0.5||1.7|
|Brown rice||1/2 cup||1.8||0.2||1.6|
|White rice||1/2 cup||0.6||0.2||0.4|
|Wild rice||1/2 cup||1.3||0.2||1.1|
|Spiral pasta, cooked||1 cup||1.3||0.2||1.1|
|Spiral pasta, whole wheat. cooked||1 cup||3.7||0.7||3.0|
|Nuts and Seeds|
|Peanuts, dry roasted||1/4 cup||2.5||0.7||1.8|
|Sesame seeds||1/4 cup||3.3||0.7||2.6|
|Sunflower seeds||1/4 cup||2.2||0.7||1.5|
|All-Bran with Extra fibre||1/2 cup||15||1||14|
|Bran Buds||1/3 cup||10.7||2.8||7.9|
|Corn Flakes||1 cup||0.7||0.4||0.3|
|Fibre One||1/2 cup||13||1||12|
|Oatmeal, cooked||1 cup||4||2.4||1.6|
|Shredded Wheat, small biscuits||1 cup||4.2||0.7||3.5|
|Total Raisin Bran||1 cup||6||0.9||5.1|
Fibre is important to the bodybuilder primarily because it helps to add bulk to ones diet. Vegetables, which are sources of fibre are not very calorie dense foods. This means that you can eat a large quantity of them without adding a significant amount of calories to your diet. This comes in particularly handy when you are trying to shed some excess body fat (as I'm sure you've witness if you've talked to anyone whose on a "cutting" diet, they've probably gotten quite their fill of broccoli).
Also, by adding these foods to your diet, you slow the digestion process down (since these are complex carbohydrate sources which take longer to digest) meaning you will stay fuller for a longer period of time, thus also helping keep your total calorie level in check.
A final good addition of fibrous foods to the bodybuilders diet, particularly the ones with a high water concentration (most vegetables) is that it fills up your plate. Psychologically this helps you to feel like your not being quite so deprived and makes the process of dieting a little more tolerable. (For example, you'd have to eat 5 oranges to equal the same amount of calories as one scoop of gourmet ice cream).
Apart from bodybuilders and fitness athletes, fibre helps benefit the rest of the population, as it is extremely helpful for the control of diabetes. Because fibre helps regulate blood sugar levels, which is the primary concern for diabetics, by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, these individuals may reduce their symptoms and decreases the amount of insulin they need to inject.
Fibre also helps to those who are at risk or currently have cardiovascular disease, due to the cholesterol lowering properties in fibre. Finally, fibre reduces the chances of developing many cancers, particularly that of the colon, as fibre keep all the digestive products moving through the system efficiently. Studies have also shown that fibre can help decrease your risk of bowel cancer by up to 40% (irishhealth.com).
It is recommended that you get 14 grams of fibre for every 1000 calories that you consume, therefore translating to about 21-40 grams of fibre for most men and women. People who are dieting may wish to include more fibre in their diet to help prolong satiety and reduce their overall calorie level.
Some Tips To Help You Get More Fibre Into Your Diet:
- Start your day off with a cereal high in fibre, such as oatmeal or all bran.
- Make sure the bread in your sandwhich is whole wheat/grain (make sure to check the label as common brown breads may not have anymore fibre than plain white bread).
- Introduce fibre into your diet slowly, as to prevent excess bloating and gas.
- Use whole wheat flour in any baking (or half whole wheat and half white).
- Keep cut up raw vegetables in the fridge to snack on.
- Replace other common snack foods with air popped popcorn (buy the kind without the addition of oils/flavourings).
- Include a wide variety of beans and legumes in your diet.
- Replace any juice with real fruit.
- Eat the skins off all fruit and vegetables, as this is where most of the fibre is located.
- Add frozen vegetables to soups or other dinner meals to increase your fibre intake.
Making sure to include appropriate sources of fibre in your diet is important for fitness enthusiasts as well as the general population. The best way to do this is to eat foods in their most natural form, as often foods loose much of their fibre when they are processed (most common snack foods).
Try to include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet for not only the benefits of fibre they provide, but also the various vitamins and antioxidants that come along with them.
Also try and replace some of your typical meat sources with beans and legumes, as these are often terrific sources as fibre as well.
So have a look at your diet and make sure you are getting all the benefits from this powerhouse nutrient called fibre.
- Galland, L. Understanding Dietary Fibre: Power Healing: The New Integrated Medicine to Healing, 1997.
- Jones, P., et al., 2002. Clinical Nutrition: 7 Functional Foods - more than just nutrition. Canadian Medical Association Journal: 166 (12).