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First off, there’s the taste. Consumers want to have their cake and eat it too. At the end of the day, if the sweet indulgence tastes more like a bar of chalk, then there is a high probability that consumers will not be running out to buy it. In my opinion, most companies have nailed this aspect down to some degree. The majority of bars, cookies, or other low-carb snacks that I have tried actually taste really good. However, even if a product can meet the consumer standards with respect to taste and quality, the true separation occurs at the level of fiber source. The buzz words “high-fiber” and “low net carbs” are exploding in today’s society. Thus, companies are attempting to find ways in which they can add fiber to their products, thereby boosting their nutritional profile and simultaneously decreasing the number of net carbs. This now prompts the question: are all fiber sources nutritionally the same, and if not, what does this mean for the consumer?
IMOs can be made in several ways, but they are primarily derived from a sugar called maltose. IMO is promoted as a prebiotic fiber with a light sweetness profile. Its functional properties (i.e., moisture retention, low viscosity) make it well-suited for nutrition bars, cookies, candies, and the like. In order to fully understand IMOs and how the body processes them, we first need to understand how starches are digested in the body. Starches, also known as polysaccharides, are long and sometimes branched chains of glucose molecules. Initially, starch digestion begins in the small intestine with an enzyme called α-amylase. A-amylase breaks these long glucose chains into much shorter chains, called oligosaccharides, which are composed of anywhere from two to approximately 10 glucose units. Following this, specific enzymes on the brush border of the small intestine break down these oligosaccharides even further, into individual glucose units (monosaccharides) which are then absorbed.
Taken together, previous research in combination with our lab’s current research may argue that IMOs should not be classified as a “true fiber.” Rather, IMOs should be viewed as a very low glycemic carbohydrate source, much like steel cut oats. In essence, if you see a low-carb snack that has 20 grams of IMO fiber, it is likely that approximately 16 grams of this fiber will act as a slow-digesting carb, and four grams will act as an indigestible fiber. Those who are on a ketogenic diet should be aware of these fibers and proceed with caution when consuming them in large amounts, as they could raise both blood glucose and insulin levels. A more ketogenic-friendly fiber is SCF, which has been demonstrated to act as more of a true fiber. Additionally, SCF is very tolerable in the gut despite its profound prebiotic activity. It is important to keep in mind that everyone is metabolically different, so if you are consuming food items with these fibers in them, be sure to monitor blood glucose and ketone readings to find how each of these fibers personally affects you.
Breath Hydrogen is an assay that indicates in “real-time” whether or not a particular nutrient is being digested. Upon consumption of a standard carbohydrate (e.g., rice), you can see that it is broken down in the small intestine, and, subsequently, blood glucose rises. If the carbohydrate is not digested in the small intestine, it moves into the large intestine. This indicates that it is a “true fiber.” In the large intestine, bacteria digest the fiber through a process called “fermentation.” In doing so, the bacteria produce hydrogen ions (H+) that circulate into the bloodstream, through our lungs, and is then exhaled outward. We monitored a subject consuming either IMOs or SCF respectively and then tracked the variables listed above for 150 minutes following consumption.
Thus far, we have established what IMO is and how its structure can differ in regard to its carbon bonds. The real question is, “What are the metabolic responses of products that contain these IMOs?” The glycemic index of IMO is very low, however, it has been shown to be nearly completely digested (83 % or more) by enzymes on the small intestinal border. Thus, IMOs should not necessarily be classified as a true fiber but rather as a low glycemic carbohydrate like steel cut oatmeal, at about 3.3 calories per gram.
Going on vacation is exciting, until you realize you just started the Keto diet. When you’re headed on vacation, believe it or not, but there are tons of ways you can stick to the Keto diet. Many people would agree when someone says that Keto is a way of life and not just a diet. Before you start on your vacation, you’ll need to keep this in mind. Don’t stress about eating keto when you are on vacation, it is fairly easy to keto on vacation!
Another significant benefit of the ketogenic diet is that you avoid the big spikes in blood glucose levels caused by excessive carbohydrate consumption. Because some of the benefits of eating dietary fiber come from improved glycemic control, your fiber needs may be further reduced on the keto diet since your glycemic control comes from eating very few carbs.
Even so, keto followers may experience a rise in LDL cholesterol, sometimes called “bad” cholesterol because too much of it can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can increase the risk of heart disease. And that’s where fiber can help. However, many high-fiber foods, like beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are also high in carbs, so they're limited on the keto diet.