Getting enough fibre on a keto diet can be a contentious subject, but it does not need to be, in this article we will take you through why you need to be mindful of what fibre you are eating on a keto diet and the consequences of not eating enough fibre vs eating too much. Most importantly, we will take you through our favour low carb, high fibre food options and even how to incorporate these into your keto lifestyle. What are you waiting for read on…!
- Why do we need Fibre in our Diets?
- Why do some people not get enough fibre when eating a Keto Diet?
- What are the best health sources of fibre for a Keto Dieter?
- How can I Track How Much Fibre I am Eating?
- Final Thoughts
Keto is a way of eating which focuses on the reduction of carbohydrates (carbs) and increase in fat in your diet which results in your body going into a state called ketosis.
It is different from a low-carb diet in that keto restricts the number of carbs consumed even lower than that of a low-carb diet.
Keto involves our bodies entering a metabolic state known as ketosis. In our non-keto diet, a lot of the fibre we consume comes from the high carbohydrate foods that we eat. When you transition onto a keto way of eating, these carbohydrates are largely eliminated from your diet.
This means that the sources of fibre that you are used, you are no longer having. Some people that are new to a keto lifestyle may struggle to get enough fibre (roughage) in their diet, which can cause several different issues which we will discuss below. Not getting enough fibre in your diet is one of the main criticisms of keto and low-carb diets. However, this definitely does not have to be the case.
Why do we need Fibre in our Diets?
Fibre is what keeps everything moving through (and out of) our digestive system. Too little fibre is not good for your health as it is the fibre that feeds the good bacteria in your gut, this is what makes your bowel movements comfy and ensures good digestive health. Fibre comes in two forms soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre dissolves when it comes into contact with liquids and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract. As this gel-like substance is formed in your gut, it swells in size making you feel fuller and more satisfied.
Soluble fibre can slow the absorption of sugar into the blood and as such can help improve and regulate blood sugar levels
Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in the same way as soluble fibre.
Insoluble fibre stays in its original form and does not dissolve like soluble fibre (hence its name!).
Insoluble fibre is commonly known as ‘roughage’. Roughage helps the colon move and dispose of waste (in simple terms, it helps the poop move through and out!). If you have a condition such as diverticulitis, you will appreciate how important it is to get enough fibre in your diet as good gut health helps your immune system as well as your bowel movements. Here we will quickly round up what happens to your body if you do not get enough fibre, and what happens if you get too much.
What Happens if I Don’t Eat Enough Fibre?
- Constant Bloated Feeling – Bloating is caused by the gas that is released from certain foods. Food products that are likely to contribute to this bloating feeling are; dairy, alcohol and carbohydrates. When you are eating enough fibre, these gasses will be expelled from your body
- Constipation or Irregular bowel movements -As discussed above, one of the main roles of fibre is to keep our bowels working efficiently and our colon healthy. It helps remove toxins and stools from our bodies. If you don’t have enough fibre in your diet, this process will be slowed down and will result in either irregular bowel movements, loose stools or even constipation, which can become very painful
- You are gaining more weight. Fibre helps you to regulate insulin levels in the body. It also helps bind the starches in the body. This helps to break down carbs in the body, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar is not regulated, this is when you have cravings for sugar-laden foods, which will see you gain weight. Fibre helps to combat this,
- Higher Blood Pressure – When eating an appropriate level of fibre, it can help to reduce blood pressure levels. If you’re not eating enough fibre, your blood pressure may increase (hypertension), which can lead to symptoms of tiredness, headaches and chest pains. Getting enough fibre in your diet will help prevent this.
- Acne -As we have discussed above, fibre removes toxins from our body, if toxins remain in the body, the effects can normally be seen in the skin. The skin is the largest organ in the body, so it can often give you a good indication if something is not right on the inside. Dull, acne-prone skin can be a sign that you are not getting enough carbs on your keto, low-carb diet.
As you can see, there are a lot of risks associated with too few grams of fibre, however, there are also risks associated with eating too much fibre, these are discussed below.
What Happens if I Eat too Much Fibre?
Eating too much fibre can have as many negative impacts on your body as eating too little. Some of the symptoms overlap with eating too little.
The most common symptoms of eating too much fibre are:
- Excessive Gas
- Uncomfortable feeling in the stomach
- Stomach cramps
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Weight gain or loss
So What Amount of Fibre is Optimal for a KetoDiet?
The average adult should eat between 20-40 grams of fibre a day according to the UK’s National Health Service. Too much fibre is defined as over 70 grams of fibre. This can be broken down further into the recommendations for various demographics;
- 25g per day for adult women
- Women over 50 years – 21g
- more fibre is required when pregnant or lactating, a minimum of 28 grams.
- 38g per day for adult men
- Men over 50 years – 30g
For children, the optimum amount of fibre is commonly calculated by adding 5 to their age. I.e. a 10 year old child would require in the region of 15 grams of fibre a day (10 + 5 =15)
Why do some people not get enough fibre when eating a Keto Diet?
Some people do not naturally eat a lot of vegetables in their pre-keto diet, so it may take them a while to get used to eating them on a keto diet. Also, a lot of people will stay away from fruits as they have read that they are high in sugar.
As a result, they become confused as to what they can eat, so stay clear of a lot of foods.
In this article, we will take you through what are your best options for eating a keto or low-carb diet and still getting enough fibre in order to maintain your gut health.
Is Fibre a Carbohydrate?
Despite the majority of fibre sources being carbohydrates, fibre does not raise blood glucose levels in the case was as carbs do. That is why many people eating the keto diet will only deal with ‘net carbs’. Net carbs are the total amount of carbohydrates in a food minus the digestible fibre. Check out our article on net carbs for more information on how to work this out and, more importantly, how to understand food labels.
What are the best health sources of fibre for a Keto Dieter?
List of High Fibre, Low-carb foods
There are a number of non-starchy vegetables that are low in carbs and high in fibre. General green vegetables that are grown above-ground fall into this category.
Here is a list of our favourite high-fibre, low-carb foods by category;
Nuts & Seeds
- Pecan Nuts
- Almonds (including Almond Butter)
- Ground Flaxseed – there are almost no digestible carbohydrates in flax seed. They are around two thirds insoluble fibre, one-third soluble fibre
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Psyllium Husk
Fruit & Vegetables
- Chia Seeds – similar to flax seeds, these are high in insoluble fibre which will keep you regular, keep your blood sugar regulated and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Chis seeds really are a superfood!
- Brussel Sprouts
- Swiss Chard
- Bell Peppers
- Courgette (Zucchini)
- Aubergine (Eggplant)
- Coconut (raw or unsweetened and inc coconut oil and coconut flour)
- Cocca Powder
If you are not used to eating fibre in your diet, don’t suddenly start eating a larger amount in one go, gradually increase day by day and ensure that you remain hydrated to ensure that the fibre has enough liquid to mix with.
Are Fibre Supplements Necessary for a Keto Diet?
Let me be clear, fibre supplements are not necessary on a keto diet, anybody that insists that this is the case is only trying to sell you something!
You should be able to get more than enough fibre naturally through the foods you consume.
If you are struggling to get enough fibre through your regular diet, fibre supplements may be an option for you.
They can be a great will to add additional nutrients into a diet, however, they should be used as their name suggests, as a supplement, you really should try and get your fibre from fibre rich foods which we have listed above.
There are varying qualities of supplements out there on the market, so ensure that if you chose to take this avenue, that you only buy supplements from a reputable supplier.
How can I Track How Much Fibre I am Eating?
We have spent this whole article telling you why you need fibre in your diet, the consequences of not getting enough fibre, and where to get that fibre from. What we haven’t helped you with is how to know what ’25 grams’ of fibre actually looks like.
The easiest way to do this is by using a tracking app like MyFitnessPal. There are a lot of different tracking apps out there, but I have found this one to be the most reliable.
Just ensure that you enter the brand of food that you are consuming to get an accurate recording of what you are eating. This will give you an accurate understanding of not only your macros (fat, protein and carbs) but also the nutritional value of the foods that you are eating
That has been a bit of a whirlwind tour of fibre, the health benefits of eating the right amount of fibre are clear. Yes, you do need to be mindful of what you are eating on a keto diet, including your fibre intake, however, there are plenty of fibre-rich, keto-friendly foods out there for you to chose from, use your imagination as to how you will incorporate these into your keto lifestyle.
What are your favourite keto-friendly high-fibre foods? What inventive ways have you found for incorporating these into your keto diet? Let us know in the comments below! ✍️