Fiber offers huge benefits to your health, from controlling your appetite and regulating blood sugar to helping your digestion. Fiber is a carbohydrate, but since it does not convert to glucose, it doesn’t raise your blood sugar like carbohydrates typically do. In fact, fiber actually slows the entry of glucose into the bloodstream. This, in turn, reduces the blood-sugar spikes that cause insulin production and encourage the body to produce and store body fat. Fiber also helps you feel full longer, resulting in fewer food cravings.
You should be consuming between 25 grams and 35 grams of fiber a day. You can use the Atkins Mobile App to help track your daily fiber intake—I’ve found it to be very helpful, because it isn’t always an easy task to get this much fiber in each day. I rely on fiber-rich foods such as vegetables, nuts and seeds, fruit, controlled portions of beans and whole unrefined grains. I sprinkle blended flaxseed meal and chia seeds in shakes and on all sorts of food to boost my fiber intake. Also remember that you need to accompany any increase in fiber intake with plenty of water.
Here are some other great ways to help you get the fiber you need (if you shoot for 8 grams to 10 grams of fiber with each meal, you’ll be well on your way to meeting your quota):
• Vegetables: Start with breakfast. Add half a cup of cooked spinach and two cups of mushrooms, which cook down to half a cup, and you'll have a fiber bonanza. Add a half cup of black beans to your eggs by whipping up huevos rancheros or a breakfast burrito wrapped in a low-carb tortilla. Have sliced red bell peppers with hummus as a snack, wrap ham and cheese in a romaine lettuce leaf or enjoy half an avocado. Pile sliced, grilled chicken onto a salad packed with veggies for lunch. Try steamed broccoli and sautéed mushrooms with chicken, steak, pork or salmon for dinner. Artichokes have more fiber than any vegetable. Roast or steam them and dunk the leaves in butter or a dip of lemon, dill and mayonnaise.
• Legumes: Black beans, lentils and split peas are all packed with fiber. They make a great fiber-rich base for soups. But they are high in carbohydrates even after you subtract fiber, so watch your carb count and portion size.
• Low-carb and whole-grain breads: Lower-carb breads and tortillas can be a great source of fiber; look for those with at least 4 grams of fiber per serving. Look for 100 percent whole-grain bread (the term “multigrain" doesn't ensure it is all whole grain; check the ingredient list). Spread your toast with two tablespoons of a natural almond or peanut butter for another 1.9 grams of fiber. Make fajitas with low-carb tortillas, and fill a low-carb wrap with veggies and slices of grilled chicken or steak.
• Mix-ins: To significantly boost your cereal bowl's (or oatmeal’s) fiber content, try adding a quarter cup of toasted wheat germ, a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds or two tablespoons of slivered almonds or other nuts. (All of these are also great sprinkled over Greek, plain, whole milk or reduced-carb yogurt.) You can also top salads with slivered almonds.
• Fruit: Skip fruit juices. Instead, eat the fruit itself, and get 3.1 grams of fiber. Berries are the way to go (a half cup of raspberries adds 4 fiber grams, blackberries add 3.8 and blueberries or strawberries add 1.7) and kiwis (2.7 grams per fruit). Always accompany fruit with protein and/or fat such as nuts or cheese to slow any negative impact of the natural sugars on blood-sugar levels.
• Low-carb bars: Read the labels and look only for those that have no added sugars and at least 6 grams of fiber. Atkins Advantage™ bars have up to 11 grams of fiber in most flavors.