Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article -
Connor is a soccer player who lost 20 lbs. his first year of college, appeared thin and was easily tired. He ate fruits, vegetables and grains to his heart’s content but wouldn’t touch fries, candy, cheese, bacon, beef, etc. Although Connor was missing out on a lot of energy-dense foods that are high in calories, he did eat nuts, avocados, peanut butter and olives. What limited his intake and caloric absorption was the extraordinary amount of fiber he consumed. An analysis of his diet revealed Connor ate over 50 grams of fiber daily!
It is not uncommon for those striving to maintain a “healthy” diet to go a little overboard. Fiber rich foods are naturally cholesterol free, low in calories and chock full of phytochemicals. For the general population, focusing on plant foods is necessary to offset the high amount of saturated fat and refined flour that is often foods consumed in a standard American diet. For active people who are already eliminating most sources of sugar and fat, a very high intake of fiber can be detrimental to growth, increasing lean mass or regaining weight.
So how much is too much? The average American only eats about 12-16 grams of fiber on a daily basis. The goal is about 25 grams per day for women and 35 grams per day for men; roughly 10 grams for every 1,000 calories eaten. When fiber intake approaches twice this amount some problems can develop. Excess fiber can block the absorption of some vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc. It may also impair the normal digestion of proteins and fats eaten at the same meal.
See the chart below for a sample of healthy fiber intake.
Sample of healthy fiber intake (approx. 2500 Calories): 28 grams Fiber
- Oatmeal with raisins, scrambled eggs, non-fat milk. 4 gms.
- Small granola bar. 2 gms.
- Turkey & cheese sandwich on whole grain bread, carrots, potato chip.s 9 gms.
- Apple with peanut butter. 7 gms.
- Pasta with meat sauce, broccoli, side salad & dressing. 6 gms.
- Frozen yogurt. 0 gms.
Sample healthy fiber intake (approx. 3500 Calories): 36 grams Fiber
- Oatmeal with raisins, scrambled eggs, 2% milk. 4 gms.
- 2 small granola bars. 4 gms.
- Turkey & cheese sub on whole grain bread, carrots, potato chips. 11 gms.
- Apple and celery with peanut butter. 9 gms.
- Pasta with meat sauce & parmesan cheese, broccoli, side salad & dressing. 6 gms.
- Frozen yogurt with berries. 2 gms.
If you don’t eat more than 5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables and don’t get at least 3 whole grain servings a day, you certainly aren’t at risk of over-consuming fiber. Like Connor, those whose diets include bran cereal, bowls of fruit, beans, generous salads, multiple vegetables, and a variety of whole grains on a daily basis should be cautious. A consultation with a physician or registered dietitian is warranted if this sounds like you, especially if you are experiencing unintentional weight loss or bowel problems. More isn’t always better, even of the good stuff.
Learn how to effortless follow TOP TIPS and LIVING HEALTHY. CLICK HERE and SUBSCRIBE today!