Benefits of Fiber for Athletes

12 July, 2020
Fiber ferments in the intestines and helps certain microbiota to grow. Today, we'll tell you about the benefits for athletes.
 

Dietary fiber is a really important nutrient that helps keep your intestines healthy and can help prevent certain medical conditions. There are a great many benefits of fiber for the human body, including helping intestinal transit, and it’s even been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular problems.

It can also be really beneficial for athletes, and they should make sure they eat plenty of fiber every day. This means eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and prioritizing whole grain over refined products. So, today, we’ll look at the benefits of fiber for athletes.

Benefits of fiber: improving your microbiota

The bacteria in your intestines are very important for your general health, but in recent years, it’s also been linked to improved athletic performance. In fact, scientists are currently studying how microbiota affects muscle gain.

There are also several studies that suggest it’s responsible for several nutrient absorption processes.

So, making sure you get enough fiber is important for keeping your intestines healthy. It ferments in the digestive tract and helps feed certain bacteria that live in the intestines. This helps maintain the biodiversity of the intestinal flora and keeps your digestive system working properly.

This will result in better intestinal transit and help prevent problems such as diarrhea and constipation. These are conditions that athletes often suffer from and which they normally put down to poor water absorption at the intestinal level.

 
Some cereal, milk and fruit.

You might also suffer from these conditions as a result of taking drugs or antibiotics. Eating fiber and food with probiotics on a regular basis can greatly reduce the risk of intestinal transit problems.

Benefits of fiber: regulating the blood glucose curve

Carbohydrates are very important for physical exercise. However, where they come from is also important as this can influence their effect on the body.

Foods that are rich in fiber contain low glycemic index carbohydrates. This means that the body absorbs them slower and they stay in the blood for longer. As a result, these complex nutrients can be critical for good performance in a long sporting event.

Fiber also helps you to feel fuller and, according to an article published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, helps prevent low blood sugar levels. If you’re an athlete, preventing this type of hypoglycemia can help reduce the risk of decreased performance once the competition has started.

All of this means that in the hours before a sports event, you should consume carbohydrates rich in fiber instead of foods containing lots of simple sugars.

 

Where fiber comes from

The best way to introduce fiber into your regular diet is to eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits such as apples or pears are rich in pectin, which is a fiber that ferments in the intestines and is beneficial for the intestinal flora.

Another good idea is to eat more whole-grain cereals. Swapping refined flours for the wholemeal variety will greatly improve the overall health of your body and keep your blood glucose curve stable. In fact, oats contain beta-glucans, which are really important for this.

A woman eating a bowl of cereal.

Summary of the benefits of fiber

Fiber is an essential nutrient for your overall health and is also important for athletes. Making sure that you consume enough each day will reduce the risk of reactive hypoglycemia and improve the diversity of your microbiota.

Both effects will have either a direct or indirect impact on your athletic performance. We already understand the way that fiber can affect intestinal absorption, and the effects of the microbiota on muscle gain are currently being studied.

So, we recommend that you make sure you include fiber in your diet every day. You should also complement it with foods rich in probiotics to improve the health of the bacteria in the digestive tract. Not only will this help your athletic performance but it’ll also reduce the risk of health problems in the medium and long term.

 
  • Josephine N., Gary DW., Lindsey A., Vesselin T., Gut microbiota and IBD: causation or correlation? Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2017. 14 (10): 573-584.
  • Candida J Rebello., Carol EO:, Frank LG., Dietary fiber and satiety: the effects of oats on satiety. Nutr Rev, 74 (2): 131-47.