Fiber, The 4th Macro?

Please enjoy today’s Guest Blog from our beloved Cypher Member and Nurse Practitioner, Sarah Archenbronn!

You’ve had a good chance over the last few blog posts to learn about the 3 macro-nutrients that comprise all the food that we eat. So now you’re a professional in the macro game. That’s it, right? 

Well, not quite. There is one more important factor to consider as you go forward with how you shape your daily intake. Fiber.

Fiber is counted in the category of carbohydrates, so it is a sub-macro of sorts. “Fiber” describes the indigestible carbohydrates that we consume. Portions of plants, like their cell walls, that our body is unable to breakdown. So, if we can’t digest it what’s important about that? LOTS. Fiber is what is essential to keeping things moving in the gastrointestinal tract, i.e. helping your poop to stay soft, and much of the fiber we eat is essential to keeping a happy gut microbiome. Our gut microbiome is comprised of many good bacteria that help break down the foods we eat and make the nutrients in that food available to us. You and your gut microbiome are essentially in a partner WOD where you work together to process the food you eat and use it to provide you both need energy to live.

How much fiber do I need? 25 grams per day at minimum. The best sources for fiber are whole fruits, vegetables and legumes. Raspberries are the star of the fiber game! You frequently find added fiber in cereals, breads and bars. Many processed foods are lacking fiber that was initially removed to make the food more palatable, but after fiber was shown to be an important part of a healthy diet, the food industry started adding fiber back into these processed foods to make them “healthy.”

Fiber is useful in any macro counting situation, as it helps you feel full at meal time. It helps regulate blood sugar by slowing absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. That’s why we say eat a whole orange, don’t drink the juice! High fiber diets are connected to a myriad of potential health benefits, including a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer.

I find fiber to be a reliable metric to help me gauge if I got enough fruits and vegetables in that day. If you prioritize them in your diet, you’ll find it pretty easy to hit your 25g fiber per day goal. Conversely, if you find you’re way under the mark, try to make sure whole fruits and vegetables are a part of every meal and snack. (And that the app you are using to track macros has fiber noted in what foods you’ve selected.)

Finally, having a high fiber diet can help prevent painful conditions like diverticulosis, constipation and hemorrhoids! So go get some raspberries and happy pooping!

Sarah Archenbronn, FNP-BC

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