From weight loss to clearer skin, keto has been praised by many for its quick and noticeable results. However, eating a high-fat, practically carb-free diet doesn’t come completely without consequences.
There are certain nutrients keto eaters tend to fall short on. One particularly important must-have: fiber.
Why People Fail To Get Enough Fiber On Keto
In attempts to eat the high amounts of fats and moderate amounts of protein required on keto, while avoiding carbs as much as possible, many dieters all but eliminate fiber-containing vegetables for fear of their carb counts.
Many keto eaters focus solely on animal products (which don’t contain fiber) and fats. “Avocado is one of the few high-fat foods with appreciable amounts of fiber,” says Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., doctor of nutrition and owner of eatrightfitness.
The result: “Many people forget to (or just don’t) consume low-carb vegetables and, consequently, their fiber intake plummets,” Adams says.
Why? According to Adams, many dieters don’t understand the difference between starchy vegetables (which are higher in carbs) and non-starchy ones (which are lower in carbs).
While starchy plant foods—like potatoes, beets, and corn— contain too many carbs for the average keto diet, non-starchy ones—like red cabbage, mushrooms, cauliflower, and broccoli—do not.
However, carb-fearing keto eaters often ditch all veggies—and eliminate pretty much all of the fiber their bodies need.
Why Fiber Is A Big Deal
You know all those important health-boosting bacteria (known as probiotics) in your gut? They feed on fiber.
“Fiber helps improve blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, colon health, and digestion, and is linked to reduced risk of heart and colon disease,” Adam says.
“Considering that nearly 70 percent of your immune system is found in your gut, it’s important to focus on nourishing your body with foods that will benefit your microbiome,” says dietitian Elizabeth Shaw, M.S., R.D.N., C.L.T., founder of Shaw’s Simple Swaps.
Some of the best fiber sources there are higher-carb foods, like oats, barley, beans, legumes, and citrus fruits, says Adams. These foods contain soluble fiber, which is known for supporting healthy cholesterol.
The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day from food. According to a 2014 study out of the University of Minnesota, though, most Americans don’t meet their needs.
How To Up Fiber On Keto
Since oats are obviously off the table for keto eaters, they’re even more at risk for missing their daily fiber needs. However, you can still get your fiber fill on the high-fat diet if you try (and don’t rely on cheese, steak, and bacon to get you through the day).
1. Add Non-Starchy Veggies To Every Meal
To get the maximum amount of fiber for the least amount of carbohydrates, Barry Sears, Ph.D., biochemist, and creator of the Zone diet recommends adding two servings of non-starchy vegetables into every meal.
His go-to’s? The ABCs: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and cooked spinach.
Follow Sears’ rule of thumb and you’ll get in at least six servings of non-starchy vegetables per day—and plenty of fiber, antioxidants, and other good-for-you plant compounds.
2. Eat More Nuts
Nuts, like pistachios, are a great way to add fiber into a keto diet, says Shaw.
“One serving of pistachios provides three grams of dietary fiber,” she says. Consider adding nuts to your salads or grabbing a handful as a snack between meals.
Just avoid cashews, which are higher in carbs and lower in fiber than most nuts (because they’re technically legumes).
3. Include Avocado In One Meal Each Day
One of few high-fat foods that’s also high in fiber, avocado is loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
“One medium avocado has nearly nine grams of dietary fiber,” Shaw says. Add sliced avocado to omelets or salads, or take a spoon straight to the fatty fruit.
4. Consider A Daily Fiber Supplement
Adding a fiber supplement (we recommend The Vitamin Shoppe’s Miracle Fiber) to your water is another simple way to up your intake. Though it’s not a replacement for eating fibrous plant foods, it can make keto more sustainable and health-promoting, says Adams.
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