Probably one of the most skipped over nutrition details, people and athletes of all levels need fiber in their every day diets. There are two types of fibers, soluble and insoluble. To decipher which is which, leave a fiber-filled vegetable, fruit or grain in some water. If it dissolves, it’s soluble, and if you have any family history or personal history of high cholesterol or diabetes, you’ll need some soluble fiber in your fuel tank, because it’s been shown to aid in decreasing blood cholesterol levels (those pesky LDLs and triglycerides), AND when added to other foods, it can even help to limit blood sugar spikes as the fiber moderates the process. A lot of these fiber foods are grains and beans – oats, bran, lentils, beans and more.
But, let’s say your carrot or strawberries didn’t dissolve into mush in a bowl. Now you’re dealing with insoluble fiber. This type of fiber is needed more for your gut than anything. Insoluble fiber is the kind that helps you “go” if you’re feeling a little “stopped up.” It’s also been shown to aid in preventing colon cancers. Not to mention that either type of fiber gives you a better feeling of being full, which can be very useful if you’re a snacker and need to cut back on a few calories throughout the day.
The average American is recommended to eat about 25g to 38g of fiber, depending on your gender. Men need the upper limit, women, the lower.
Does the athlete need any extra fiber? No, not at all. But the typical athlete does need to watch when they eat their fiber, especially if breakfast included a big bowl of berries with seeds like chia or flax. You don’t want to be in any stage of a workout or competition and be derailed from fiber-induced digestion cramps. While it might be adding one more element to an already crowded organizational nightmare of a day, trying to save your fiber for after a morning workout or 2 to 5 hours before an afternoon run may help save you from some belly troubles.