Updated: Jan 3, 2019
Fiber is probably the most overlooked carbohydrate despite offering so many advantages for our health and well-being. In almost every meal plan that I have came across online, the importance of carbohydrate is always being singled out as a very important nutrient for strength trainees looking for muscle growth and good workouts. IIFYM (if it fits your macros) approach made it even worse because the only thing that matters now is that the carbohydrates fit your caloric budget, no matter the source or quality. What if I tell you that fiber is significantly more important for your health than the amount of carbohydrates you are consuming?
While I have nothing against simple carbs like glucose, fructose, maltose, lactose and sucrose, more complex carbs such as polysaccharides can offer more than just sugar. Other than micronutrients they can offer fiber as well.
What is fiber?
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that comes from plant cells wall, both primary and secondary. The energy that our body needs is within that wall. There are many types of fiber and the exact fiber composition depends on plant maturity. Depending on the fiber type, it can have a very beneficial role in regulating your digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Fibers are divided into two main categories: water soluble, and water insoluble. Water soluble fibers, as the name suggest, dissolve in hot water. Water insoluble fiber do not dissolve in water and maintain their structure. Soluble fibers delay gastric emptying and increase transit time through intestine while insoluble fibers speed up the transit time and increase the fecal bulk. Lets look at the chart below to compare different food sources.