Why fibre is important whilst on the 'keto' diet
Very low carbohydrate diets also known as ketogenic diets have been promoted primarily for weight loss and other health reasons. The term "ketogenic" refers to a diet which is extremely low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and high in fat. The mix of fuels provided aims to induce the production of ketone bodies for the body to use an an energy source. There are a few different variations on the ketogenic diet but all are very low in carbohydrate intake.
Effect on Diet Quality
While those on the diet often experience great success when it comes to weight loss or other health benefits, extreme carbohydrate restriction can affect diet quality. It can eliminate entirely or extremely limit fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Very low carbohydrate diets may be lacking in vitamins, minerals, and the phytochemicals which are found in these foods. This is the reason why many people who follow a keto diet may also include a multivitamin in their diet. With a decrease in vitamins and minerals, getting this supplementary source may be needed to avoid deficiencies.
One of the key nutrients that is more difficult to obtain though is fibre. Ketogenic diets are low in fibre which is a nutrient that may often be missed. Fibre is needed to have healthy digestive function and also the microbial production of short-chain fatty acids which promote nutrient absorption, improve immune function, and even have anti-inflammatory effects. When there is inadequate intake of fibre in the diet, gut permeability may increase. For this reason, it has been suggested the supplementing a ketogenic diet with fibre is recommended.
Increasing Fibre Intake
With the benefits of adequate fibre intake, it may seem impossible to get adequate amounts of the ketogenic diet. With a minimum intake of 25 grams of fibre a day, you may not be able to do this while following a ketogenic diet. The keto diet which is high in fat and protein limits even non-starchy vegetables. Since fat and protein sources do not typically contain fibre, at least not significant amounts, it can be a struggle to get even minimal amounts of fibre in the diet. Many people who follow the keto diet will report that they experience negative digestive function as a side effect.
The good news is that just like taking a multivitamin, there are fibre supplements which are readily available. Most people today are familiar with promoting good gut bacteria and fibre works symbiotically with fibre to promote healthy digestion. A fibre supplement that contains galactooligosaccharides in addition to beneficial bacteria will ensure that both components work together to promote healthy gut function. Optibac Bifidobacteria & Fibre is a high-quality supplement with 5 billion friendly bacteria of Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12® and 4g of FOS, for a source of natural fibre. In addition to taking a fibre supplement, it may also be beneficial to include non-starchy vegetables in the diet as the keto diet allows to get even more fibre.
For those that may have been following a ketogenic diet for a few months or longer, their bodies may be used to a low-fibre diet. This means that drastically increasing fibre can come with some negative side effects. Increasing fibre intake drastically in too short a period of time can lead to digestive difficulties and cause pain or difficulty going about your daily activities. Instead of going up drastically on fibre intake all at one time, it's recommended to increase the fibre intake slowly. For those that may be getting very low fibre in their diet, increase intake over a week or even longer. In addition to increasing fibre intake, it's also important to get plenty of water in the diet. Fibre absorbs water and will need fluid intake in order to pass through the digestive system.
Other Keto-Friendly Fibre Sources
In addition to taking a fibre supplement, it may also be possible to include some foods that contain higher sources of fibre without getting rid of the keto diet. Some keto-friendly foods that are higher in fibre include flax seeds and chia seeds. These are rich sources of dietary fibre. They can be added to foods and beverages easily. Just like other fibre sources, a little goes a long way so be cautious about including too many in your diet at one time. Coconut, broccoli, and leafy greens are also potential good sources of fibre that may be included without breaking the keto diet plan.
Take Charge of Your Health
When you go on the keto diet, weight loss is a great side effect. Many people also notice that they feel more awake and alert, have higher energy levels, and experience other beneficial side effects. While these can all be benefits of a keto diet, it may be easy to miss dietary problems while on this diet. When considering your fibre intake, you may want to take notice of your digestive function. Many people will want to track their digestive concerns and notice if they are having normal function. Constipation is a common side effect of not having enough good bacteria and fibre in your diet. If you notice this as a side effect, you're probably not getting enough right now.
Another potential side effect can be vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Anyone who is on the keto diet for an extended period of time should follow up with their doctor at least once a year. With this annual check-up, your doctor can check to see if you're getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet. Most of the time, taking a multivitamin will be adequate to meet your needs. If you're concerned about any specific nutrients, you can check your levels and adjust from there.
Finally, remember that keeping up to date with your health is important, even when you're on the keto diet. Take charge by being proactive with the foods you eat, even when you're losing weight. Gut health can affect the health of your entire body so don't ignore the essential nutrient of fibre. These simple tips and suggestions can help you to remain on the keto diet while still getting adequate fibre in your diet.