If you’ve been following a keto diet then you know that it takes a bit of time to get into ketosis. Ketosis is the state in which your body uses ketones, which are created during the breakdown of fats in the liver, as a fuel source to give you energy. If you eat carbs then your body will use glucose that comes from the carbs as the main source of fuel.
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To figure out the correct amount of fiber for your body, try experimenting. If you’re on the keto diet, start with 15-20 grams of total dietary fiber per day from a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber for several weeks, then consider adding 3-5 grams at a time as needed to see how you feel. Remember that some people actually feel worse when they boost their fiber intake[*][*][*].
There are two general categories of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Fibrous foods typically contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. As a society, we understand the importance of fiber, including the benefits related to lowering body fat, decreasing the prevalence of diabetes, improving insulin sensitivity, decreasing the risk of heart disease and increasing satiety, as well as the beneficial bacteria in our digestive system. Unfortunately, less than 5% of Americans actually meet the 30 gram per day recommended intake. To help increase fiber consumption, an increasing number of companies have developed a host of delicious, low-carb, high-fiber treats. Despite this, it is important to understand how our bodies process two of the most common “fibers” on the market that are used in these treats: isomaltooligosaccharides (IMOs) and soluble corn fiber (SCF).
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.
You can have fruit on the keto diet, as long as you choose carefully and keep serving sizes small. Whittel suggests blueberries, which can be added to salads and smoothies or eaten as a snack with nuts. “Berries are among the fruits with the highest fiber content yet are relatively low in carbohydrates for a small serving,” she says. For the ultimate high-fiber keto smoothie, mix unsweetened coconut milk, avocado (“the perfect keto food,” according to Whittel), chia seeds, and up to one-half cup of blueberries.
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.