Blog: How much fiber should I eat?

Apr 11, 2024

Fiber serves as an unsung hero within our bodies, playing a crucial role in our overall health. Unlike other carbohydrates that are broken down into sugar molecules, fiber remains indigestible and passes through the body unchanged. Fiber is lacking in more than 90 percent of women and 97 percent of men, so here’s your guide (and gentle nudge) to start talking about fiber with all of your patients.

How much do we need?

Women should aim for about 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should target about 38 grams, or 14 grams for every 1,000 calories.

What is fiber?

Fiber can be described as soluble or insoluble. Soluble dietary fiber, also known as roughage, is a crucial component found in plant foods. Viscous fibers form a thick gel in our intestines that slows digestion, stabilizes blood sugar levels, binds cholesterol in the intestine and removes it from the body. These types of soluble fibers, include pectins, gums, and some hemicelluloses, are known to reduce LDL, non-HDL and Apo B levels. Particularly noteworthy is beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber found in foods like oatmeal and barley, known for its cholesterol-lowering effects. Other sources of soluble fiber include legumes, berries, vegetables and seeds.

The other type of dietary fiber is insoluble fiber, which aids in maintaining soft and regular stools. Common sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, beans, lentils, and most vegetables like carrots and potatoes, but remember to keep their skins on to reap the most benefit. Despite not being absorbed in the intestine, insoluble fiber contributes to the feeling of fullness, aiding in appetite control.


To avoid unwanted GI symptoms, I suggest gradually increasing fiber intake, which can be achieved through simple dietary swaps over a few days to weeks. Additionally, staying hydrated by increasing water intake is crucial to prevent constipation and optimize the benefits of dietary fiber. Instruct your patients to ignore the marketing on the front of the package labels because these can be misleading. Bread labeled “multigrain” does not mean it is a whole grain nor contains fiber. When looking at the ingredient list, tell your patients to look for the word "whole" as the first ingredient.

How Can I Meet My Fiber Goals?

In general, it's better to get your fiber from whole foods than from fiber supplements. Fiber supplements such as Metamucil, Citrucel, and Benefiber don't provide the myriad of beneficial nutrients that whole foods do, but they can be a useful option as patient’s are learning to incorporate more fiber-rich foods into their diet. Choose whole-wheat bread instead of refined varieties, add flax or chia seed to breakfast, and incorporate a fruit or vegetable with every meal. By making these subtle changes, patients can easily work towards the recommended daily intake of 25 to 38 grams of fiber. Here are some other great recommendations you can quickly suggest to your patients:


Oatmeal, instant, cooked: 1 cup = 4.0 g fiber

Raspberries: 1 cup = 8.0 g fiber

Lentils, boiled: 1 cup = 15.5 g fiber

Chia seeds: 1 ounce = 10.0 g fiber

Pinto Beans: 1 cup, boiled =15 g fiber

Artichoke Hearts: 1 cup, cooked = 14 g fiber

Chia Seeds: 2 tablespoons = 10 g fiber

Whole Wheat Pasta: 1 cup, cooked = 7 g fiber

Pear: 1 medium = 6 g fiber

Almonds: 23 almonds = 6 g fiber

Avocado: Half of an avocado = 5 g fiber

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