Is fiber good for breakfast?
I’m sure you’ve been told countless times that “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Yet, this advice leaves out one very important fact: what you eat for breakfast is just as important. As the typical American breakfast is laden with added sugars and refined carbs — think pancakes, sugary cereals, and fruit juice — often one of the key ingredients of a good breakfast, fiber, is altogether forgotten.
On average, Americans eat around 10-15 grams of fiber a day, while the daily recommendation is 25-38 grams. Fiber promotes gut motility, cleans out waste and toxins through your GI tract, and supports stable blood sugars all day. By starting your morning with fiber at breakfast, you can more easily meet your fiber requirements and reap all the health benefits.
Why is fiber good for you?
Let’s begin with unpacking what fiber is. Fiber is a type of complex carbohydrate that the body cannot digest or absorb. However, this does not mean that fiber isn’t useful to human health. While fiber can’t provide energy to our own bodies, it does feed the beneficial bacteria that live in our guts and usher out toxins that would otherwise be trapped in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Children and adults should consume between 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day. That’s about two times more than the average American consumes! In addition to promoting a healthy gut, eating more fiber-rich plant foods offers tremendous health benefits:
Supports a Healthy Weight:
The addition of fiber to your diet generally decreases food intake by reducing appetite and increasing the feeling of fullness, and, hence, aids in weight loss and maintenance of healthy body weight.
Regulate Blood Sugar:
High-fiber foods tend to have a lower glycemic index than refined carb sources, which have been stripped of most of their fiber. Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index result in a decreased insulin response, reducing blood sugar spikes. Eating high-fiber foods have shown to prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes and improve glycemic control in patients already diagnosed.
Lower Blood Cholesterol:
Fiber has the ability to take up excess cholesterol in your system and eliminates it before it can clog your arteries. Additionally, some forms of fiber help lower LDL cholesterol levels by 5-10%. High levels of this type of cholesterol increase one’s risk of heart disease and stroke.
Increase Bowel Regularity:
Both types of fiber — soluble and insoluble — can help you have healthy, regular stools. Soluble fiber slows down the movement of food into the intestines; helping to treat diarrhea. Insoluble fiber provides bulk and speeds up the movement of food in the intestines; helping to prevent constipation.
Keep Your Gut Happy:
Fiber optimizes the function of the friendly bacteria in your gut and functions as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are carbs your body can’t digest, so they go to your lower digestive tract, where they act as “food” for your gut and stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria.
What is the best form of fiber?
While all fiber is beneficial to your health, the two different types of fiber — soluble and insoluble — offer their own distinct health benefits:
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel. This type of fiber is known to help decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes, while also supporting weight control. Soluble fiber softens stools and may help prevent both constipation and diarrhea.
Foods higher in soluble fiber: apples, citrus fruit, oats, peas, barley, beans
Insoluble fiber, as expected, does not dissolve in water. This form of fiber mainly helps food move through your digestive system but can prevent colon cancer and appendicitis as well. Insoluble fiber, since it’s not dissolved, adds bulk to stools and is known for helping prevent and even relieve constipation.
Foods higher in insoluble fiber: whole wheat products, bran fiber, cauliflower, potatoes
Many plant foods contain a combination of both soluble and insoluble fibers, just in different proportions. So, there is no “best form of fiber.” It’s all about your own body’s needs that you’re looking to meet!
What breakfast has the most fiber?
Now, finally diving into breakfast… Making sure you are eating a healthy, fibrous meal in the morning is a crucial component of starting the day right. Not only does eating a high-fiber breakfast push you towards the recommended daily fiber goal and you reap the benefits previously listed, but it increases focus and energy throughout the day, kickstarts your body’s metabolism, and keeps you feeling full until lunch. Much better than reaching for office donuts that will leave you hungry again in an hour, right? And luckily, adding fiber to our breakfast is super easy and achievable!
Choose Whole Grains:
When navigating your local grocery store, first make sure you are looking for bread or other baked goods made with whole grains. Whole grains provide the most fiber along with a variety of other important nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and protein. Some ways to incorporate whole grains into your breakfast include making oatmeal in the morning or prepping overnight oats (16.5 grams per cup), switching from a refined grain bagel to a whole grain bagel, and choosing cereal made from whole grains, bran, or rolled oats. One thing to keep in mind is that in order for a product to be classified as “high in fiber,” it must contain at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
Recipes: Overnight Oats and Breakfast Bagel
Try Chia Seed Pudding or a High-Fiber Parfait:
Chia seed pudding and yogurt parfaits are yummy, healthy options if you have a bit of a sweet tooth. Chia seeds are an amazing source of fiber providing 10 grams of fiber in just one ounce. While greek yogurt alone isn’t the best source of fiber, it’s an awesome source of protein, and can be dressed up with fiber-rich toppings. Toppings are a great way to maximize the fiber content of your breakfast, while also providing additional flavor and texture. Some suggestions are adding seeds like flaxseeds (8 grams per ounce) or chia seeds (11 grams per ounce), whole or chopped almonds (3 grams of fiber per ¼ cup), and cacao nibs (5 grams per ounce) to your yogurt, pudding, or oatmeal.
Recipes: Chia Seed Pudding and Greek Yogurt Parfait
Last, but certainly not least, fruit is an amazing, high-fiber option for breakfast, whether you’re looking for something a bit lighter or using it as a topping. Some high-fiber fruits include raspberries (8 grams per cup), blackberries (7.6 grams per cup), avocado (10 grams per cup), pears (5.5 grams per medium-sized, raw pear), apples (4.5 grams per medium-sized, raw apple), and bananas (3.1 grams per medium-sized, raw banana). My all-time favorite breakfast is toast with either avocado or any sort of nut butter topped with bananas! To spice it up, I like to add cinnamon or raw honey for additional nutritional benefits and taste.
Recipes: Peanut Butter-Banana English Muffin and White Bean and Avocado Toast
What is the best high-fiber supplement?
Fiber supplements can be a helpful way to meet your daily fiber needs. However, it’s important to take into consideration your personal health needs before purchasing a fiber supplement.
Which fiber supplement is the best for me?
Figure out the type of fiber (insoluble or soluble) that suits your body's needs: Insoluble fiber helps relieve constipation by attracting water into your stool, making it softer and easier to pass. Soluble fiber helps treat diarrhea by adding bulk. It also helps maintain blood cholesterol and glucose levels.
Look for a high-quality brand certified by a third-party company: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not evaluate dietary supplements before they enter the marketplace. Therefore, the effectiveness, ingredients, quality, and safety of the supplement go unevaluated. This is why it is recommended that you seek a fiber supplement that is certified by a third-party company. You will know it’s third-party tested by a stamp of certification displayed on the product label.
Decide what form of supplement (caplet, gummy, or powder) is best for you: For example, if you hate swallowing pills, then a gummy or powder may work better for you. On the other hand, if you travel a lot, then pills may be more convenient to fit in your suitcase or carry-on.
3 Considerations Before Taking a Fiber Supplement
Can I get more fiber through my diet first? Before turning to a fiber supplement, consider incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet. Fiber supplements alone lack the additional vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants received from fiber-rich whole foods. Fast-tracking your way to a high-fiber diet through fiber supplements may mean missing out on the full health benefits associated with a fiber-rich diet.
Do I have a plan to increase my fiber intake slowly? There is no evidence that taking fiber supplements is harmful to the body, however, too much fiber is not better than too little. Rapidly increasing your fiber intake via supplementation (and even via diet) can result in bloating, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea. Fiber absorbs water in the GI tract. This is why it is important to drink lots of water when eating fiber to help reduce adverse — and sometimes even life-threatening — reactions.
Will a fiber supplement interact with my medications? If you’re taking medications to improve blood cholesterol, blood pressure, or blood sugar levels, think twice before taking a fiber supplement. Talk to your health provider before taking any kind of supplement.
Whether you decide to purchase a fiber supplement or obtain your daily serving of fiber through the foods you eat, it is key to remember to consume 25-38 grams of fiber per day for good health. Fiber helps us regulate our weight, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and bowel movements, and also feeds our good gut bacteria. Starting off your morning with a meal rich in fiber provides many benefits… As they say, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”