Fiber – Does it fit your Macros?
Fibre – Looking at most food ingredient panels, you will see the fiber content listed. This is not always specified as soluble or insoluble fiber (there is a difference, and we will get to that) and if we should count this when counting our Macros. Fiber for a long time has been vastly unknown territory. We know that the average adult dietary intake for fiber is around 25-35 grams, which when put into the perspective of saying your carbohydrate, fat and protein intake seems like it would be easy enough to fit in each day. Yet, most adults hit around only 1/3 of this daily required intake.
How does fiber work?
Fibre works in a few ways, it helps to bulk out our stool, retain water in the stool to help with passing waste and when residing in the large intestine and colon, can be converted by the bacteria in these areas into beneficial short-chain fatty acids.
Yep, those gut bugs are back with more benefits! Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA’s) include the following:
What do these words mean for us?
Fermented from fiber by the Anaerobic intestinal microbiota, this conversion to short-chain fatty acids provides the host of these bugs with multiple benefits including the regulation of:
- Glucose Metabolism.
- Lipid metabolism.
- Energy regulation and metabolism.
- Direct activation of G-Coupled Protein receptors that are responsible for immune response, visual and gustatory senses, neuronal, hormonal and cell signaling. (Very important)
- Gene expression and repression modulation. (1)
So yeah, safe to say that these Short Chain Fatty Acids from fiber conversion are pretty damn important!
Types of bugs in the large intestine?
“The large intestine contains organisms belonging to over 30 identified genera and as many as 500 separate species or phenotypes. The main types of bacteria in the colon are obligate anaerobes, and the most abundant bacteria are members of the genus Bacteroides, anaerobic gram-positive cocci, such as Peptostreptococcus sp., Eubacterium sp., Lactobacillus sp., and Clostridium sp.” – Quote: Bacteria in the Intestine, Helpful Residents or Enemies from Within?
Fibre – Soluble Vs Insoluble
Fiber is not absorbed by the body and does not register a blood sugar response in the body like other types of carbohydrates/sugars but this does not mean that it does not contribute a calorific value.
Fiber as a whole is still classified as a carbohydrate, however, it does not register in the body in the same way that traditional carbohydrates do. In this case, traditional carbohydrate forms are broken down into glucose and used as fuel for the body to produce energy output or, if in a surplus, stored and utilized at another time. That is the very simple explanation of carbohydrates. So, what about fiber?
Soluble: Soluble fiber remains relatively undigested, as humans only have some of the enzymes required for its digestion and arrive to reside in the colon for the fermentation by the bugs, we mentioned above, into short-chain fatty acids. Through this conversion, these short-chain fatty acids are quickly utilized in various aspects including the support of energy production. Per gram, fiber is only valued at a calorific value of 2 calories per gram. However, keeping in mind fiber carbohydrates does not impact blood sugar, where regular carbohydrates contribute 4 calories per gram. (2)
Insoluble: Is not broken down by the body as it passes through the body unchanged to bulk out and hold water in our stool for easy excretion of waste from the body.
Which one is more important?
Well, they both are. Having sources of mixed fibers or ensuring you are getting both in your diet is important as they have different functions.
Here is a list of the top 10 sources for each fiber:
- sweet potatoes.
- Brussel Sprouts.
- Sunflower seeds.
- Whole Grains – like brown rice, wheat, and couscous
- Root veg.
- Green Beans.
- Strawberries. (Super low calories too, makes a great snack!)
Should I count fiber in my Macros then?
We were asked this a few times, well, the variables for you to be able to measure how much of your fiber is used for conversion by our bugs and how much is used to bulk up our stools are not accurate enough to be able to calculate. Not to mention it does not perform the same way in which a carbohydrate usually does, there is no increase in blood sugar nor can it be used as a stored energy form. So, in short, no. Most people when tracking macronutrients do not count this as a macronutrient, they do however keep in mind the amounts present in food to aim for what is required for adults to have an adequate functioning large intestine and colon system.
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