Simple (and tasty) strategies for increasing your daily fiber intake – without having to “cheat” on Dr. Atkins.
This is Part III in my three-part series on low-carb diets and fiber. As explored in my first post of the series, the paleo and ketogenic (“keto”) diets are powerful therapeutic tools. It’s all too easy, however, to forget to eat enough fiber while following a low carb plan. In Part II we dove deep into the fantastic world of fiber and explored the healing benefits of this important nutrient. This post features tips and recipes for upping your fiber intake while still following a low-carb diet.
Simple Ways to Eat More Fiber
Here are some simple ways to enjoy more fiber in your low-carb diet:
Chia Pudding. Soak chia seeds in coconut milk or other non-dairy beverage of your choice overnight in a ratio of 1 part seeds to 4 parts liquid. Add honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract, and any toppings (fresh fruit is nice!) as desired.
Sprinkle on Seeds. When preparing salads, stir-fries, and other vegetable dishes, sprinkle on some pumpkin, sunflower, and other seeds for some extra crunch and fiber.
Paleo Muesli. Combine slivered almonds, shredded coconut, sunflower seeds, and almond or flax flour (easily made by putting the nuts/seeds in a coffee grinder) and cover with dairy free milk of your choice.
Munch on Mix. Combine pistachios, walnuts, almonds, shredded coconut, cacao nibs, and pumpkin seeds for a next-level nosh.
Coconut Flour Cookies. Coconut flour contains 5 times as much fiber as wheat flour! Check out this recipe.
Bulk it up with Flax. Add 2 tablespoons of ground flax to any smoothie for a thicker consistency and a slight nutty flavor. My favorite is to blend ½ a papaya (no seeds or skin) with a banana, 2 tablespoons of flax, and a cup of nut or coconut milk. (Note: it’s best to drink the smoothie within 30 minutes, or else the flax will slowly give it a Jell-o-like consistency.)
Flax Fix. Stir ground flax into unsweetened applesauce or a mashed up banana for a quick fiber-rich snack.
Don’t be a Nut Bar. Just eat one. Chop up 2 cups of nuts of your choice (cashews, almonds, and walnuts are good choices) and combine with 1⁄2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt, and 9 tablespoons raw honey. Bake in a parchment-paper lined 8×8 baking pan at 350 F for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.
Eat Your Veggies! Aim for a minimum of half of your plate at mealtimes to be comprised of vegetables.
Make Pep-in-Your-Step “Bread.” Check out the next section for the recipe.
Once you’ve completed a Whole30 or other introductory program and are ready to reintroduce some healthy carbohydrates in moderate amounts, these tasty options are all rich in fiber as well:
Fermented Oats. Cover 1 cup of raw or steel cut oats (certified gluten free!) and ¼ cup of nuts and seeds of your choice in enough water to cover the ingredients. Add a spoonful of whey, plain yogurt, raw apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or kefir. Cover and let soak overnight at room temperature to allow the oats to fill with probiotic mojo. In the morning, add an additional cup of water and a pinch of salt and bring everything to a boil. Immediately turn down the heat and add any toppings you desire (butter, maple syrup etc.)
Savory Miso Butter Oats. Prepare a serving of rolled or steel cut oats (certified gluten free!) on the stovetop. Combine with 2 tablespoons of butter and a teaspoon of miso paste dissolved in a little water. (Miso is an easy source of probiotics; dissolving it in cold rather than hot water helps avoid killing the good bacteria it contains.) This recipe goes great topped with a sunnyside-up egg, black pepper, and avocado.
Overnight Oats. In a cup, mason jar, or bowl, combine 1 part dry rolled oats (certified gluten free!) with 1 part water or nut milk of choice and ¼ part chia seeds. If you’re using sweetener like honey or maple syrup, you can add it at this stage as well. Stir until the ingredients are well mixed. Cover and let sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight. Add your favorite toppings in the morning.
Beans, Beans, Beans. Navy beans and split peas are particularly high in fiber, followed by pinto beans, black beans, and lentils. Prepare beans as a side dish for dinner, as a topping for salads, or as soups and stews. Be sure to drain the water from soaked beans before cooking reduce the chances of feeling gassy later.
To get the full benefit from fiber and prevent feeling “plugged up” by its stool-bulking powers, it’s always a good idea to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and especially after fiber loading.
Recipe: Paleo Pep-in-Your-Step “Bread”
This bread is no joke. Everyone I’ve shared this recipe with has reported back with a glowing (and sometimes overly detailed) report.
One patient said: “This bread makes me poop so awesome it puts a spring in my step for the rest of the day.” “Now here’s a loaf worth pinching,” declared another. I could go on. But you get it.
- 1 cup sunflower seed kernels (not in the shells)
- ½ cup flax seeds
- ½ cup hazelnuts or almonds
- 1 ½ cups coconut flour
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or ghee
- 1 ½ cups filtered water
Optional ingredients to make it sweet:
- 4 bananas, mashed
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup 70% dark chocolate chips
- ½ cup Blueberries
- Place the flax seeds in a coffee grinder, bullet, or VitaMix and grind into a flour-like consistency. Do the same for the nuts, with the option of grinding them more coarsely for chunkier bread.
- Combine all of dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Combine the water, melted oil or ghee, and maple syrup or honey together in a separate bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and using (clean) hands, mix well. The dry ingredients should be completely soaked through and the dough should be very thick.
- Let the dough sit at room temperature for at least two hours. It is fine to leave it overnight, as long as it’s covered to keep out any bugs.
- Transfer the dough to a bread pan or make 12 muffins (use parchment liners unless it’s a silicone muffin tray you’re using).
- Bake at 350° F / 175° C. Check the muffins after 60 minutes and the bread after 90 minutes. If it’s still mushy in the middle, continue baking for up to 2 hours as necessary. (As there are no eggs in this recipe there’s no risk in eating the bread undercooked, but it will taste much better if allowed to bake evenly through.)
- The bread and muffins can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, or pre-sliced and frozen.
Take the Fiber Challenge
Are you ready to take the fiber challenge? The fiber challenge consists of eating 30 to 50 grams of (gluten-free) fiber per day. The average American consumes 8 to 12 grams of fiber per day (including gluten), so chances are it’s time to up your fiber game.
The above recipes will help you fit more fiber into your daily diet. To help you get a sense of just how much 30 to 50 grams is – and where your current intake falls in that range – check out this handy chart of gluten free foods and how much fiber they contain, courtesy of Riley Wimminger, MScN at Bridgetown Nutrition. (Prefer a PDF version? Click here.)
|CATEGORY||FOOD||SERVING SIZE||FIBER CONTENT|
Nuts & Seeds
|Chia seeds (dried)||1 tablespoon||4.9 grams|
|Almonds||Quarter cup||4.5 grams|
|Pumpkin seeds (no shell)||Quarter cup||3.0 grams|
|Coconut (shredded, unsweetened flakes)||Quarter cup||2.7 grams|
|Pecans||Quarter cup||2.6 grams|
|Walnuts||Quarter cup||2.0 grams|
|Flax seeds (ground)||1 tablespoon||2.0 grams|
|Pistachios||Quarter cup||1.5 grams|
|Sesame seeds||1 tablespoon||1.1 grams|
|Cashews||Quarter cup||1.0 grams|
|Sunflower seeds (no shell)||Quarter cup||1.0 grams|
|Peanuts||Quarter cup||0.8 grams|
Whole Grains & Flours
|Coconut flour||Quarter cup||13.0 grams|
|Buckwheat groats (dry)||Quarter cup||4.2 grams|
|Teff (cooked)||Half cup||3.6 grams|
|Buckwheat flour (dry)||Quarter cup||3.0 grams|
|Amaranth (cooked)||Half cup||2.6 grams|
|Quinoa (cooked)||Half cup||2.6 grams|
|Gluten-free rolled oats (dry)||Quarter cup||2.5 grams|
|Black rice (uncooked)||Quarter cup||2.3 grams|
|Sorghum (whole grain) flour||Quarter cup||2.0 grams|
|Wild rice (cooked)||Half cup||1.5 grams|
|Cassava flour||Quarter cup||1.3 grams|
|Millet (cooked)||Half cup||1.2 grams|
Beans & Legumes
|Navy beans (cooked)||Half cup||9.6 grams|
|Split peas (cooked)||Half cup||8.2 grams|
|Pinto beans (cooked)||Half cup||7.7 grams|
|Black beans (cooked)||Half cup||7.5 grams|
|Lentils (cooked)||Half cup||7.5 grams|
|Tempeh||3 ounces||7.0 grams|
|Garbanzo beans (cooked)||Half cup||6.3 grams|
|Lima beans (frozen, uncooked)||Half cup||4.4 grams|
|Soybeans (edamame, frozen)||Half cup||2.9 grams|
|Tofu (firm)||Quarter block||0.7 grams|
|Cinnamon (ground)||1 teaspoon||1.4 grams|
|Savory (ground)||1 teaspoon||0.6 grams|
|Rosemary (dried)||1 teaspoon||0.5 grams|
|Basil (dried)||1 teaspoon||0.3 grams|
|Brussel Sprouts||5 sprouts||3.5 grams|
|Acorn Squash||Half squash||3.3 grams|
|Green peas (frozen)||Half cup||3.0 grams|
|Butternut Squash (raw, cubed)||1 cup||2.8 grams|
|Fennel (raw, sliced)||1 cup||2.7 grams|
|Eggplant (raw, cubed)||1 cup||2.5 grams|
|Broccoli (raw, chopped)||1 cup||2.4 grams|
|Beets (whole)||2” diameter||2.3 grams|
|Cabbage (green, chopped)||1 cup||2.2 grams|
|Spaghetti Squash (cooked)||1 cup||2.2 grams|
|Cauliflower (raw, chopped)||1 cup||2.1 grams|
|Asparagus||6 spears||2.0 grams|
|Okra (frozen pieces, cooked)||Half cup||1.9 grams|
|Carrot (raw)||1 medium||1.7 grams|
|Green Beans||10 beans||1.5 grams|
|Collard Greens (raw, chopped)||1 cup||1.4 grams|
|Spinach (raw)||2 cups||1.4 grams|
|Bell Pepper (red, medium)||Half pepper||1.3 grams|
|Kale (raw, pieces, loosely packed)||2 cups||1.2 grams|
|Celery (medium)||2 stalks||1.2 grams|
|Zucchini (raw, chopped)||1 cup||1.2 grams|
|Cherry tomatoes||Half cup||0.9 grams|
|Onion||Quarter cup||0.7 grams|
|Mushrooms (white, sliced)||1 cup||0.7 grams|
|Cucumber (with skin, sliced)||1 cup||0.6 grams|
|Pear (with skin)||1 medium||5.5 grams|
|Apple (with skin)||1 medium||4.4 grams|
|Raspberries||Half cup||4.0 grams|
|Blackberries||Half cup||3.8 grams|
|Orange||1 medium||3.4 grams|
|Banana||1 medium||3.1 grams|
|Papaya (1” pieces)||1 cup||2.5 grams|
|Figs||2 medium||2.4 grams|
|Pineapple (chunks)||1 cup||2.3 grams|
|Kiwi||1 medium||2.1 grams|
|Blueberries||Half cup||1.8 grams|
|Grapefruit||Half large||1.8 grams|
|Strawberries||4 large||1.6 grams|
|Cantaloupe (cubed)||1 cup||1.4 grams|
|Cranberries (unsweetened)||Quarter cup||0.9 grams|
With just a little planning, you can give your health a major upgrade by fitting a little more fiber into your life.
Photos by Jennifer Pallian, Kristen Kaethler, Sara Cervera, and Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash