How much fiber do you need?
How much fiber do you need each day? The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, which provides science-based advice on matters of medicine and health, gives the following daily recommendations for adults:
|Age 50 and younger||Age 51 and older|
|Men||38 grams||30 grams|
|Women||25 grams||21 grams|
Your best fiber choices
If you aren’t getting enough fiber each day, you may need to boost your intake. Good choices include:
- Grains and whole-grain products
- Beans, peas and other legumes
- Nuts and seeds
Refined or processed foods â€” such as fruit juice, white bread and pasta, and non-whole-grain cereals â€” are lower in fiber content. The grain-refining process removes the outer coat (bran) from the grain, which lowers its fiber content. Similarly, removing the skin from fruits and vegetables decreases their fiber content.
So what foods are your best bets? This list shows the amount of dietary fiber in several types of foods.
|Food item||Fiber content in grams*|
|Fiber One Cereal .5 cup
Split peas, cooked, 1 cup
|Red kidney beans, boiled, 1 cup||13.1|
|Raspberries, raw, 1 cup||8.0|
|Whole-wheat spaghetti, 1 cup||6.3|
|Grapefruit 1 large
Oat bran muffin, medium
|Pear, medium with skin||5.1|
|Broccoli, boiled, 1 cup||5.1|
|Apple, medium with skin||4.4|
|Oatmeal, quick, regular or instant, cooked, 1 cup||4.0|
|Sweet Potato 1 medium
Green beans, cooked, 1 cup
|Brown rice, cooked, 1 cup||3.5|
|Popcorn, air-popped, 2 cups||2.3|
|Whole-wheat bread, one slice
Almond Butter 1 tbls
*Fiber content can vary between brands.
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference,
Whole foods rather than fiber supplements are generally better. Fiber supplements â€” such as Metamucil, Citrucel and FiberCon â€” don’t provide the vitamins, minerals and other beneficial nutrients that high-fiber foods do. However, some people may still need a fiber supplement if dietary changes aren’t sufficient, or if they have certain medical conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Check with your doctor if you feel you need to take fiber supplements.
Tips for fitting in fiber
Need ideas for high-fiber meals and snacks? Try these suggestions:
Start your day with a high-fiber breakfast cereal â€” 5 or more grams of fiber per serving. Opt for cereals with “bran” or “fiber” in the name. Or add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal.
Add crushed bran cereal or unprocessed wheat bran to baked products such as meatloaf, breads, and muffins. You can also use bran products as a crunchy topping for salads or cooked vegetables.
Switch to whole-grain breads. These breads list whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label. Look for a brand with at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
Substitute whole-grain flour for half or all of the white flour when baking bread. Whole-grain flour is heavier than white flour. In yeast breads, use a bit more yeast or let the dough rise longer. When using baking powder, increase it by 1 teaspoon for every 3 cups of whole-grain flour. (Not crazy about yeast or wheat though so keep it to a minimum)
- Eat more whole grains and whole-grain products. Experiment with brown rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta and bulgur.
- Take advantage of ready-to-use vegetables. Mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce. Snack on baby carrots.
- Eat more beans, peas and lentils. Add kidney beans to canned soup or a green salad. Or make nachos with refried black beans, baked tortilla chips and salsa.
- Eat fruit at every meal. Apples, bananas, oranges, pears and berries are good sources of fiber.
- Make snacks count. Fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, and low-fat popcorn and whole-grain crackers are all good choices.
High-fiber foods are good for your health. But adding too much fiber too quickly can cause intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a period of a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change. Also, drink plenty of water. Fiber works best when it absorbs water, making your stool soft and bulky. Without the added water, you could become constipated.
Your Sample Nutritional Plan
.25 cup Fiber One Cereal 7.1
.5 cup Almond Break (unsweetened) .5
.25 Berries 2.0
.5 Grapefruit 3.0
3 oz Chicken
1 cup Broccoli 5.1
.5 Sweet Potato 2.0
1 tbls Almond Butter 1.5
3 small Celery stalk 1.0
6 oz White Fish
.5 cup Split Peas 8.1
Total fiber for the day 30.4
Atlanta Personal Trainer