5 Simple Ways to Get More Fiber in Your Day

Fiber intake affects your gut and digestion, immune system, appetite, mood, and more, so keep these tips in mind to make sure you're getting enough grams per day for optimal wellbeing and health.

If you're struggling to feel satiated with your go-to meals and snacks, or if you're experiencing more digestive distress and incidences of constipation (meaning: you aren't able to poop regularly, with easy, normal-looking bowel movements), you might not be eating enough daily fiber and would benefit from an added boost.

Fiber intake affects various aspects of your health and wellbeing and offers many benefits, such as:

  • more regulated hunger levels
  • fewer cravings
  • increased appetite suppression
  • less digestive discomfort
  • more regular bowel movements
  • higher energy levels

All these reasons add up to why it's super important to make sure you're eating enough of the recommended daily fiber.

Unfortunately, fiber is an often overlooked on the Standard American Diet (SAD), but it's one area of nutrition where you really don't want to be deficient.

"Fiber improves just about every area of health one can think of: heart health, digestive health, immune function, and weight maintenance to name a few," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD. "Fiber works to improve heart health by removing excess cholesterol from the body, and it improves gut health by feeding the good gut bacteria, to then also improve digestion as well as immune health, as the immune system has been said to be housed in the gut."

Fiber can aid in weight loss and weight management, too, by increasing satiety and suppressing your appetite, which can prevent overeating in the day.

If you're skimping on fiber habitually and creating a chronic deficit, you end up decreasing your health and wellbeing over time, and you may experience a weakened ability to fight away viruses and other kinds of sickness, from the common cold to more serious diseases.

Stocking up on fiber-dense foods at home and being more mindful of how many grams of fiber are in the foods you eat is the best way to guarantee you're getting enough fiber each day. Here's what to know.

Hand Picking Freshly Made Popcorn From The Bowl
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How Much Fiber Do We Need and What Kinds?

"Gut health is a hot topic, especially since about 70 percent of our immunity is located in our GI tract, and it is important to keep the good bacteria that live in our gut happy," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, founder of NutritionStarringYOU.com and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.

How much fiber you eat daily directly correlates with your overall gut health, and a healthier, happier gut means you'll be healthier and happier, too, with a peppier mood and a strong immune system. The best way to do so is by eating more probiotics and prebiotics in the diet.

Fiber can also help to keep you full in between meals and snacks, which can improve appetite regulation and weight management.

"It also helps to manage cholesterol and blood sugar," Harris-Pincus adds, which is especially important for those who are diabetic, prediabetic, or are at higher risk of heart disease.

According to Best, daily fiber intake recommendations decrease with age, and they can also increase with activity.

"The average male should take in between 30 and 38 grams of fiber daily, while women should take in between 21 to 25 grams, but this increases by about five grams for active men and women," Best explains.

On average, most Americans fail to reach their fiber goals and need to increase through greater intake of fiber-dense foods and larger serving sizes per day. Why might this happen about 95 percent of the time, according to Harris-Pincus?

"One reason is a lack of fruits and veggies with only 1 in 10 Americans consuming the recommended number of produce servings per day," Harris-Pincus explains. We also rely on ultra processed packaged foods for the bulk of the diet when on a SAD lifestyle, and these foods are typically low in fiber.

How to Add More Fiber to Your Diet

The best way to increase fiber is to eat the richest sources, such as blackberries and raspberries, which offer eight grams per cup; black beans, which offer 7.5 grams per half cup cooked; and whole-wheat pasta, which offers six grams per one cup cooked.

Strive to eat a variety of foods, and with a rainbow of colors, as colorful produce picks likely offer the greatest nutritional bang for your buck. They can help you meet your fiber macronutrient requirements most easily and effectively.

Plus, it'll help prevent a food rut, as a result of boredom!

These are the best tips to keep in mind for increasing fiber in the diet.

And remember, "increasing your fiber intake should be done slowly to avoid any discomfort for people who are not used to it," Harris-Pincus adds.

1. Include a fruit or vegetable at each meal.

Adding a piece of fruit or a vegetable side to each meal will quickly boost your daily fiber intake. "With an average of three to five grams of fiber with each serving, you'll be on your way," says Harris-Pincus.

Go for variety in colors, such as with beets and grapes, leafy greens and kiwi, oranges or bell peppers, and sweet potato or squash, watermelon, strawberries, and tomatoes, and more. Eating to create a rainbow of fibrous foods and colors is a handy approach, with one or two picks with each meal or snack, depending on the serving size and kind, of course.

Feel free to add in as many servings of non-starchy veggies, like leafy greens and cruciferous veggies, as you like, but then stick to one or two servings max of the fruits or starches with each meal to keep carbohydrate and sugar intake in check.

2. Make your grains mostly whole.

Make at least half of the grains you eat each day a whole grain, with the consumption of whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, quinoa, and whole-grain cereal, for example.

"If needed, there are several brands of fiber-enriched bread, pasta, and tortillas that taste and look just like the white versions people are used to eating and are very family friendly," says Harris-Pincus.

3. Eat more beans and legumes.

Incorporate beans and legumes into your meals for more fiber and plant protein.

"Add some to salads, grains, wraps, quesadillas, omelets, or casseroles, and take note beans are a staple in the diets of the Blue Zones of the world, where people often live to 100," says Harris-Pincus. Enjoy white, kidney, and navy beans as well as lentils and chickpeas, too!

What's more, Best recommends replacing your animal protein with more plant-based protein, as it can benefit your heart and longevity. Start with one meal swap a week.

"Plant-based proteins, like legumes, are rich in fiber and protein, unlike meats, which contain very little, if any, fiber," Best says.

4. Include nuts and seeds as fiber-packed toppings.

Nuts and seeds are great sources of fiber and plant protein, as well as heart-healthy fats, and they make a great addition to breakfast or lunch bowls. Plus, they're crunchy and salty.

Use as toppings for grain bowls, poke, yogurt, and oatmeal, stir-fry meals, protein bowls, and more. And integrate into your daily snacks, too. "Chia, flax and hemp seeds are a great source of fiber and are easy to add to oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes, baked goods and smoothies," says Harris-Pincus.

5. Switch up your nighttime snacks.

If you're munching on chips and other common snack foods, or if you're even one to have a dessert after dinner to satisfy a sweet tooth, switch your snacking up and opt for popcorn instead, which offers more fiber per serving and can be made fresh too, where you can customize it however you like.

"Popcorn can be made without excess oil, seasonings, or fat, and it provides a significant amount of fiber per serving, as it is a whole grain source," Best says. So, it'll settle that munchies craving but give more fiber per serving, simultaneously! Plus, who doesn't love popcorn during a Netflix or movie night, right?

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