Category: Low Carb

Fiber and Prebiotics

Chicory Root is a good source of Inulin

Chicory Flower

I have already tried adding fiber to my diet, because both low calorie and low carb diets can be a bit, or even a lot, low on fiber for those, like me, who need a lot of the stuff! Since I wrote those articles, I have been looking in great depth into how I can get enough fiber into my diet, so I don’t have to take any laxatives or use any suppositories. I prefer to keep my intake natural as far as I possibly can!

Prebiotics

While I mentioned prebiotics in one of my previous articles, I have now found out a lot more about these and also found a source for adding extra to my diet, which I am currently trying out. This is inulin, which I had not heard of before I started researching natural ways of correcting constipation when on a diet. Inulin is a natural substance found in fruits and vegetables. It is a soluble fiber. This means it dissolves (soluble) in water, which bulks it up and also softens the stool. And just as important, it forms a food for the good bacteria that live in your intestine. These good bacteria, grow and multiply by fermenting the soluble fiber. They also form part of your stool and the more there are of them, the softer and easier your stool will be to pass. Increasing the numbers of the good guys also decreases the baddies!

Inulin

Inulin is found in lots of foods, such as onions, leeks and asparagus but one of the biggest sources is chicory root. I know that chicory was used for making faux or ersatz coffee during the second world war, when coffee beans couldn’t be got and has been used in this way for maybe 200 years. The taste of chicory root is similar to that of coffee, though it doesn’t have the caffeine, and some people got used to the taste and continued using it for their coffee drink, for instance in New Orleans, where cafe au lait is traditionally made with chicory. Apart from this, chicory appears mostly to be eaten as a salad leaf or a vegetable, rather than the root being eaten. Rather than try finding recipes for chicory root (although you can buy it on line), I decided to purchase the inulin powder ready prepared and see if it helped and whether it agreed with me. I bought a bag of inulin and added the recommended dose of 5 grams into my daily shakes.

Gas

It has the reputation of producing more intestinal gas. I found that to be true! But it did improve as my body got used to it. And it did help with the constipation, which was a big benefit.

 

 

High Fiber Low Calorie Foods

Getting Enough Fiber

If you are on a low calorie or low carb diet, it can be hard to get enough dietary fiber in your diet while remaining within your calorie allowance or on the allowed foods. Plenty of foods have high fiber contents but not all of them are low calorie or suitable for a ketogenic diet.

How Much Fiber Do I Need?

The current healthy recommendations are between 20 and 38 grams of fiber a day, depending on your gender (men need more than women), age (less as you get older) and the amount you normally eat. It also depends a lot on your own metabolism. Some people have very quick pass through in their digestive systems, others have much slower turn around times. According to WebMD, it is believed that most Americans get only about 15 grams of fiber each day and that includes those who are NOT on diets.

Just Eat More Veggies?

No, it’s not just as simple as that, though eating more veggies is part of the answer. It is difficult to get enough dietary fiber from low calorie vegetables without eating massive amounts of them. For instance, take celery, a lovely vegetable, I am very fond of it and it’s great for keeping hunger at bay and giving my mouth something to do. It has only 16 calories in 100 grams (about 3 ounces), but it also has only about 2 grams of dietary fiber in that same 100 grams (the actual amount depends on which source you consult), so to get 20 grams of fiber from celery, I would need to eat 1000 grams of celery, 2.2 pounds, every day. That probably equates to two whole heads of table celery every day. Much as I like celery, I don’t think I could manage two pounds or more of it every day and that would also use up 160 calories of my daily 800 calorie allowance on the 8 week, 800 calorie BSD diet. It’s the same for many other vegetables that are perfectly fine as part of a low calorie or low carb diet. They do not contain enough fiber to fill your daily needs without having to eat massive amounts of them and I MEAN massive amounts. It’s the same with broccoli, spinach and lettuce. Great foodstuff, fine for adding to your lunchbox to keep hunger at bay or for eating as part of your low calorie meal but by themselves, they are unlikely to add enough fiber to your diet.

High Fiber Low Calorie Soup

Some useful foodstuffs that contain high amounts of fiber include lentils, with 8 grams of fiber in 100 grams. These

High Fiber Soup

are much easier to eat (in soup for instance) and will keep you feeling full for a long time. I sometimes make my own bone broth (basically boil meat bones or chicken carcass with a bay leaf and some apple cider vinegar for a number of hours, or in a slow cooker overnight, then drain and store) and use this as the basis for a soup. Or you can use a stock cube or low sodium bouillon. I add some veggies, such as celery, half an onion and garlic to 500 millilitres (1 pint) of stock and simmer until the vegetables are almost cooked, then add 50 grams (about 2 ounces) of red lentils and continue simmering until the lentils are soft. Once finished, I divide the soup in half and save one half for the next day. Just before serving, I add about 25 grams (about 1 ounce) of oat bran or wheat bran to the soup. This thickens it and makes it very filling, so it keeps me filled for several hours. It also contains about 17 grams of fiber, almost a daily amount for some people. This makes a filling high fiber meal, which can be fitted into a low calorie diet.

Dietary Fiber Supplements

If you still cannot get enough fiber in your diet, you may need to take a high fiber, low calorie supplement such as psyllium husks or apple fiber. Both are available as powder or in capsule form. It is VITAL to take plenty of water with these, to make sure they flush your intestines, instead of clogging them up worse than ever. These may not be suitable for people who have difficulty swallowing or have a narrow food pipe – consult your doctor.

Benefits of Dietary Fiber

There are many benefits to making sure you get enough fiber in your diet. For instance, people who have lots of dietary fiber in their food intake appear to be much less likely to develop heart trouble, to get strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes or to become obese.

Increasing the amount of your fiber in your diet can reduce your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol levels and improve insulin sensitivity for both diabetics and non-diabetics. Also, supplementing your fiber intake can help with weight loss in people who are obese and also help improve gastric and intestinal problems like diverticulitis, duodenal ulcers, hemorrhoids and gastric reflux.

And when that extra fiber gets into your large intestine, it appears to improve your natural immunity.

So What’s Not To Like About Dietary Fiber?

As with anything, use your commonsense about increasing the amount of fiber you take in. If you are sensitive to gluten, don’t use wheat bran. Don’t increase your fiber intake a huge amount in one go, it can lead to uncomfortable intestinal problems, including bloating and gas, if your body isn’t used to it. Increase your intake gradually and spread it out over the day. Take plenty of fluid, especially water and anyone who has difficulty swallowing, should be very cautious about taking supplements like psyllium husk and apple fiber, for instance. If in doubt, or if concerned about your bowel movements or intestines, consult your doctor or medical adviser.

 

Staying Hydrated

raspberry in sparkling water

Drink Your Water

Not Drinking Enough Water?

Sometimes it feels like hard work to take in enough water to keep your body hydrated, especially if you are on a diet and trying to stay off soda and other sweet drinks. Even diet drinks are not suitable for those on a diet, because the sweeteners they contain can also cause an insulin spike, just like sugar, making you feel hungry.

Water is just too … Plain!

We all know water is best. And if you are very thirsty, it is no problem to drink cool, sweet water straight down. But other times, it may seem too boring a drink, even if you KNOW you need it to avoid constipation and to bulk out the fiber so it doesn’t clog up your intestines. Milk can be constipating for some people, who may find it best to stick to water. So here are some possible suggestions for drinking down that water in ways that are anything but boring:

Flavored Water

As with anything you put in your body, check what it says on the label first. If you are tempted to buy flavored water, look to see if it contains any artificial sweeteners, if so, avoid it: those sweeteners can produce an insulin spike, just like sugar that will make you feel hungry. Make your own flavored low calorie water:

  1. Get those little herbal tea bags and pour boiling water on, wait 5 minutes and drink;
  2. Make chilled herbal tea by adding less boiling water, waiting the 5 minutes, then adding ice cubes for a cool drink;
  3. Add the teabag to cold water and leave in the fridge overnight;
  4. Add some frozen fruit from your freezer to plain cold water and leave to sit in the fridge or carry it with you in a flask to work. Raspberries work well and you can eat them afterwards for extra fiber;
  5. Squeeze half a lemon and put the peel into a large mug or jug and pour on a pint of boiling water. Leave to cool, then add the juice from the squeezer;
  6. Add a couple of slices of fresh ginger root when pouring in the boiling water to the lemon drink in number 4;
  7. Add a stock cube to boiling water and allow to cool for a savory hot drink (not for those on low salt);
  8. Use low sodium bouillon cubes in hot water for a savory drink;
  9. black tea or black coffee.

Juices

If you are not on a diet and don’t need the fiber, then try drinking juices or smoothies. There are many tasty flavors available or you can easily make your own using a juicing machine. The problem with juices when on a diet is (a) the amount of sugar they contain, especially if you make them with fruit and (b) juicing can remove the fiber in some cases, so you either need to add the removed fiber back into your drink or add extra to your drink. Adding fiber to a juice is a good way of taking extra fiber. You can make green smoothies using vegetables if you want a healthy, low carb drink.

 

Motivate Yourself To Drink Water

  1. Make up your daily water allowance in bottles and stack them on the counter. Seeing the number of empty bottles mount is motivating.
  2. If you have one large container, put a sticky flag on the side each time you drink from it, to show how the level is dropping.
  3. Award yourself a dollar every day you drink your full water allowance. Put it in a jar to watch the coins mount up.
  4. Drink little and often. Don’t force yourself to chug down large gulps infrequently.