The benefits of fiber for bodybuilders will make you realize just how much you need it.
When you read an article on fitness or watch a health-oriented video, everyone always mentions fiber. We know it will help keep you regular and also keep you feeling full to avoid snacking, but not much else about this vital nutrient is talked about. As a main source to improve digestion, fiber is a dietary nutrient that it is indigestible. Although it is a carbohydrate, it does not act like a typical carb does in the way it affects your body.
For bodybuilders, the concern comes with the big three macronutrients of proteins, carbs, and fat. While fiber does not directly affect muscle growth, the benefits surrounding your overall performance can be great. Since they break down more gradually in your system, they allow for your body to better process them, keeping you full longer and your insulin levels stable. For complex carbs that contain fiber, by digesting slower, your body stores muscle glycogen giving you more energy for your workouts.
There are two major types of fiber that are important to know about; soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fiber slows down digestion and readily dissolves in water, allowing your body to absorb nutrients from that food. The other type is insoluble fiber which adds bulk to your stool and allows it to pass more quickly through your intestines. For those dealing with constipation, insoluble fiber is what you are looking for to keep you regular and moving more smoothly down there. But soluble fiber is just as important and allows for those nutrients to be absorbed to give your body fuel and support for your overall needs (1).
The effect fiber has on bodybuilders is great, and while it may not improve those big gains, it will allow for a serious boost in other aspects of performance. Whether you take a fiber supplement or obtain it through foods already in your diet, knowing the benefits will keep you feeling strong and moving regularly for a solid lifestyle.
Benefits Of Fiber
Appetite Control & Fullness
Foods high in fiber will help keep you full longer while not craving those unhealthy treats we all know and love. For those of us looking to maintain a solid physique, unfortunately ice cream will not harden our six-pack. With enough fiber, you won’t feel the need to run to the freezer. Fiber suppresses our appetite by slowing digestion (2). By absorbing water, it creates a thicker, gel-like substance in your GI tract helping to do this. It also adds a hearty bulk to your meals, which is why a salad tends to leave you full faster and takes up more space in your stomach.
Keeping your insulin levels in a stable range is important for your overall health in general. High insulin levels may result in your body storing glucose as fat, which as a bodybuilder, you would rather prefer to stay away from. By slowing the rate of absorption for carbs and sugar in the bloodstream, fiber prevents insulin spikes and eventually can help with overall insulin sensitivity (3). This is ultimately huge in the long run, for your body’s ability to effectively clear glucose from the blood is key for your goals of a toned physique.
Promotes Immune Health
Fiber is what good gut bacteria rely on to thrive and the closely related correlation between gut health and immunity makes fiber very beneficial for promoting immune health (4). A stronger immune system means more time in the gym and less time feeling sick. By enhancing the amount of good bacteria in your body, you will also aid in reducing inflammation to support muscle and tissue repair leading to greater muscle growth.
Keeps You Regular
The main reason people of all fitness skill sets should care about fiber is that it keeps you running regularly. The benefits for you digestive tract and the absorption of nutrients for your body helps keep food running through your intestines effectively and helps with your regular trips to the bathroom.
Foods With Fiber
While there are many foods high in fiber, it is important to know a few great foods to get you started on preparing new meals to give you this much needed nutrient. Oat, wheat, and corn bran are all solid types of bran to add to a smoothie or your cereal and can help lower cholesterol and prevent constipation.
Brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat spaghetti are great sources of whole grains that you already may have included in your diet. These are all easy side dishes to add to your meals. For those who love fruit, pears, prunes, and avocados are great options to keep your digestive system running regularly while providing that healthy, sweet-tasting treat. Add spinach, brussels sprouts, and beans for great sources of fiber and vegetables full of other nutrients as well.
How Much Fiber Should You Have Per Day?
While you may be eating foods high in fiber already, it is important to note that the total dietary fiber intake should be 25 to 30 grams a day from food (5). While supplements are a great option for those falling short, obtaining fiber from food is very important and the average adult only consumes around 15 grams per day. If you feel you may be short on fiber, start mixing in high-fiber foods to your meals you already prepare and watch your intake rise without you really even knowing.
Everyone always talks about fiber. But no one truly explains the real importance surrounding this vital nutrient. For bodybuilders looking to live the healthiest of lifestyles, it is important to get your daily dose of fiber for the host of benefits it provides. Whether it be aiding in digestion, satiating your appetite, controlling your insulin levels, or promoting immunity, fiber can be one of those dietary nutrients that can really change your performance. Add high-fiber foods or a supplement to your regimen and watch your performance and overall health take off.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Chen, Tingting; Chen, Daiwen; Tian, Gang; Zheng, Ping; Mao, Xiangbing; Yu, Jie; He, Jun; Huang, Zhiqing; Luo, Yuheng; Luo, Junqiu; Yu, Bing (2019). “Soluble Fiber and Insoluble Fiber Regulate Colonic Microbiota and Barrier Function in a Piglet Model”. (source)
- Rao, Theertham Pradyumna (2016). “Role of guar fiber in appetite control”. (source)
- Weickert, Martin O.; Pfeiffer, Andreas F. H. (2018). “Impact of Dietary Fiber Consumption on Insulin Resistance and the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes”. (source)
- Schley, P. D.; Field, C. J. (2002). “The immune-enhancing effects of dietary fibres and prebiotics”. (source)
- University of California San Francisco Health. “Increasing Fiber Intake”. (source)