Research out of Oregon State University (OSU) suggests that athletes wanting to achieve a healthy performance weight should eat a diet high in fiber and low in fat in order to maintain muscle and burn fat.
“Depending on the sport, athletes sometime want to either lose weight without losing lean tissue, or gain weight, mostly lean tissue,” said OSU researcher Melinda Manore in a News Medical article. “This is very difficult to do if you restrict caloric intake too dramatically or try to lose the weight too fast. Doing that also means they don’t have the energy to exercise, or they feel tired and put themselves at risk of injury.”
A diet low in fiber can lead to constipation, increased blood sugar and cholesterol and hemorrhoids. But getting the recommended daily intake of fiber will slow digestion, lower blood glucose and cholesterol, help you feel full and keep your digestive tract functioning properly. However, consuming too much dietary fiber can cause food pass to through the intestines too fast, making it difficult to absorb important nutrients. It can also cause bloating and gas if you dramatically increase your intake; drinking more water will ease these symptoms.
Tips for Upping Your Fiber Intake
The recommended daily intake for dietary fiber is 25 grams. Here are some tips to help you reach that number:
- Add flaxseed meal to yogurt, oats and smoothies. Just two tablespoons of flaxseed meal contains 3.8 grams of dietary fiber, not to mention healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
- One tablespoon of chia seeds contains 5.5 grams of dietary fiber. Add them to smoothies or puddings.
- Puree cooked vegetables in a food processor and add them to stews or sauces.
To help you get your daily intake here are 9 vegetables and legumes that are high in dietary fiber:
Split peas – One cup of cooked split peas contains 16.3 grams of dietary fiber. They make a good protein-rich base for stews and soups and are filling and satisfying.
Lentils – A versatile legume, lentils can be added to many different dishes and take less time to cook compared with other legumes. One cup of cooked lentils contains 15.6 grams of dietary fiber.
Kidney beans – A cup of kidney beans contains 11 grams of dietary fiber, which is 45% of the recommended dietary intake.
Black beans – 1 cup of cooked black beans contains 15 grams of dietary fiber. They are also rich in protein and complex carbohydrates.
Lima beans – When cooked, a cup of lima beans contains 13.2 grams of dietary fiber. Add them as a puree in soups.
Artichokes – Compared with most vegetables, artichokes contain more fiber per serving. One medium, cooked artichoke contains 10.3 grams of dietary fiber.
Peas – If you want to increase the nutritional value of your meals, add pureed peas to your dish. Each cup of cooked peas contains 8.8 grams of fiber.
Broccoli – Boiled broccoli contains 5.1 grams of dietary fiber per cup.
Brussels sprouts – When boiled, 1 cup of brussels sprouts contains 4.1 grams of fiber.
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