Author: James O’Sullivan • Fact checked by: Gainful Registered Dietitians • May 19, 2022
You know that fiber is necessary for keeping the gut healthy, and you understand the roles that fiber and gut health play in your sports performance. So now you’re in the market for a fiber supplement powder — but where do you even begin?
When it comes to your options, your choices are certainly not limited. There are tons of fiber supplements on the market. It can be confusing navigating the world of fiber supplementation.
If you’re wondering about the ins and outs of fiber supplementation, don’t worry: We’ve got you covered. Keep reading for a fiber supplement powder shopping guide. We’ll pinpoint the ingredients you should look out for to get all the benefits from fiber supplements.
First thing’s first: What even is fiber, what’s a fiber supplement powder, and how are fiber supplements made?
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body is unable to digest. Most carbohydrates are broken down by the body into sugar molecules; fiber, however, passes through your body undigested. Fiber helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, keeping your hunger and blood sugar levels in check.
There are two kinds of dietary fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber does not. Soluble fiber is the type of fiber that can help lower blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. You can find soluble fiber in foods like nuts, lentils, oatmeal, beans, apples and berries. Insoluble fiber is what helps food move efficiently through your digestive system. This type of fiber promotes bowel regularity and prevents constipation. Insoluble fiber is found in foods like whole wheat bread, whole grains, brown rice, legumes, cucumbers, tomatoes and vegetables like carrots.
People who have trouble getting enough fiber in their diets often choose to supplement with fiber powder. The fiber powders on the market are formulated from a number of different sources. Some fiber powders contain a natural fiber, such as inulin (chicory root) or psyllium (the husk of blond psyllium seed, referred to simply as “psyllium husk”). Others contain an artificially created product, such as polydextrose (synthetic polymer of glucose and sorbitol), wheat dextrin (heat/acid treated wheat starch) or methylcellulose. Gainful’s Fiber Performance Boost supplement, for example, is formulated beta glucan, which is a heart-healthy soluble fiber derived from oats.
As mentioned above, fiber is necessary for your gut and digestive health, and for athletes, proper gut and digestive health is essential. Your gut health is the foundational building block of a high-performance lifestyle. Lack of adequate fiber can lead to bloating and constipation throughout the day, which can have negative impacts on sports performance. Supplementing with fiber can help to prevent this. According to a 2017 study titled “Fiber supplements and clinically proven health benefits: How to recognize and recommend an effective fiber therapy” published in The Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, only 5% of adults consume the recommended level of dietary fiber. This means that a large number of people could really benefit from fiber powder supplementation and an increase in daily intake.
Because whole-body health starts in your gut, you want a fiber supplement that properly supports nutrient absorption, satiation, healthy regularity and ease of eliminations. This requires paying special attention to what ingredients are used to formulate your supplement.
In short, you want to seek out labels that include prebiotic fibers as ingredients. Prebiotics are types of fiber within foods and supplements that feed the good bacteria within your gut.
Remember: Not all fibers are prebiotics but all prebiotics are fiber. To get the full prebiotic effects, look out for supplements made with prebiotic fibers, like beta glucan. The primary type of fiber found in oats and a polysaccharide also found in barley, beta glucan is known to directly stimulate the immune system (immunomodulators) and has been shown to slow digestion and increase feelings of fullness and decrease appetite. Prebiotic fibers like beta glucan help to optimize the immunity by keeping good gut bacteria healthy — food for the “good bugs” in the gut. It is a fuel source for probiotics. Beta glucan has also been shown to bind to cholesterol in the intestine and remove bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) from the body. Fiber like beta glucan is an important part of a cholesterol-lowering program.
That’s exactly why Gainful chose to use ingredients like beta glucan when creating the Fiber Performance Boost. Based on the research that shows between a total of 3-8 grams of beta glucan daily is beneficial in various ways, Gainful’s Science Advisory Board landed on 10 grams of oat bran per scoop, which comes to around 5 grams of fiber or roughly 2 grams of beta glucan per serving.
As you’ve probably picked up on, there are a number of benefits of fiber supplementation. Fiber helps:
All of the above benefits of adequate fiber intake — whether that be from diet alone or a combination of diet and supplementation — can have short and long term benefits for an active individual. Digestive health and regularity is imperative for feeling your best while engaging in physical activity. Fiber's effects on cardiovascular health can support long term fitness and health goals. Additionally, fiber's ability to satiate can help keep us fuller longer and stabilize blood glucose and energy levels across the day. Blood glucose stabilization leads to a more consistent energy supply. Energy is essential for optimal athletic performance. The short chain fatty acids making up fiber also directly affect glycogen release in the liver, and these glycogen stores account for around 14% of the body’s available energy stores.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the Daily Value for fiber is 28 grams per day, or about 14 grams per 1000 calories. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, most Americans only eat about half the daily recommended amount; in fact, 95% of Americans never meet the recommended intake level, especially those with celiac disease or following a low-calorie or low carb diet. If you are one of these individuals who struggles to meet your daily fiber needs, you can increase your fiber intake by supplementing with fiber powder every day. Taking a fiber supplement every day helps prioritize fiber as an essential part of your diet.
If you’re worried about getting the right amount, don’t worry: Personalized supplement brands like Gainful figure out dosages for you. Gainful’s Fiber Performance Boost is formulated based on your answers to the Gainful quiz, so you’ll have the perfect daily dose for your body’s needs.
As for timing when to take your fiber supplement, it’s important to note that although fiber has many benefits for athletes, it does slow digestion. People sensitive to fiber or have low tolerances for fiber should consider the fact that fiber supplements may cause gastrointestinal distress, flatulence, stomach or abdominal pain or minor bloating.You can take your fiber supplement at any time during the day, but to avoid any digestion issues or unwanted symptoms/side effects during exercise, take your fiber supplement no less than two hours before working out. For sports performance purposes, try consuming a scoop of Gainful Fiber Performance Boost at the same time you consume your Gainful Personalized Protein or Hydration Formula a few hours before or even after your workout. You could also stir in a scoop of the Fiber Performance Boost into a full glass of any drink or fluid, or sprinkle the fiber over your food.
It’s suggested to start by mixing a half-scoop or tablespoon of powder in enough liquid (at least 8 ounces of liquid) to assess your tolerance for fiber, then slowly build up to a full scoop.
With so many dietary supplements and fiber products out there, sifting through the world of fiber supplements can be tricky and confusing. It may seem like finding the best fiber supplements is an impossible feat — but Gainful has your back.
Gainful offers a quiz that allows experts to get to know you, your body and your goals. Based on your answers, our team of experts is able to put together a complete nutrition system just for you — and this system includes a fiber supplement powder. Gainful’s science-backed, natural ingredients allow the Fiber Performance Boost to stand out among the other fiber supplements out there. Even better? The Fiber Performance Boost can be easily added onto your subscription, making shopping for fiber powder especially easy and convenient.
If you still have a few lingering questions about fiber supplement powder, don’t forget: As part of your Gainful subscription, you have a Registered Dietitian on-hand who’s there to answer any questions or concerns regarding fiber. Whether you’re looking to bulk up, lose weight or just perform at your very best, Gainful has a nutrition system for everybody (and every body). We always keep your dietary preferences or restrictions in mind, so don’t fret: whether you’re vegan, gluten-free, a combination of both or something in between, your Gainful supplements always align with your diet and lifestyle. We make supplements (and getting the necessary grams of soluble fiber in your diet) easy — especially for new users.
(That said, be sure to consult your health care provider before beginning the use of this product or any dietary supplement. If you experience changes — especially any sudden changes or negative changes — in your health or bowel habits, or have an allergic reaction, see your doctor ASAP. Fiber supplements are by no means a “cure” or replacement medicines for any gastrointestinal conditions, so listen to any warnings from your body. Additionally, because Gainful’s Fiber Performance Boost Supplement is derived from oat bran, it is not a gluten-free product and should not be used by those with gluten intolerance).
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