Walk around any fitness expo, or even down the “snack bar” aisle of a grocery store, and you are bound to see many varieties of low carb, high protein bars, cookies, candies, and everything in between. Protein bars are in the mainstream right now, and they seem to be everywhere, from the local grocery store to the airport, and even gas stations. Companies have mastered the ability to create something that is pleasing to both the eye and the pallet (i.e., flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough, birthday cake, chocolate brownie, peanut butter, etc.), yet provides ample protein while “low” in carbohydrates. If you attend any fitness or food-related expo, you are very aware that the booths with the longest lines are the ones that are sampling their latest protein bars or “high protein, low carb” treats (cookies, brownies, ice creams, etc.). Nonetheless, in a red ocean market (i.e., market ran by competing industries) that is flooded with these “healthier and high-protein” alternatives, what truly separates one product from another?
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.
The increased awareness regarding the importance of fiber, in addition to its distinct metabolic effects, has resulted in a surge of companies switching to an alternative fiber known as soluble corn fiber (SCF). Interestingly, SCF has been available on the US market since 2007 and is used in foods and beverages across the Americas, Europe, and Southeast Asia. SCF is produced through an extensive process: corn syrup is exposed to a suite of enzymes for at least 48 hours, some of which are found in the brush border of your small intestine, as well as the pancreas. Notably, a large majority of the corn syrup contains easily digestible carbohydrates; however, a small portion is, in fact, not digestible. At the end of this enzymatic exposure, a stream of digestion-resistant carbohydrates remains and is subsequently filtered several times. The resulting product is a “true fiber” that contains a mixture of α-1,6, α-1,4, α-1,2, and α-1,3 glucosidic linkages, which, as mentioned above, contribute to its low digestibility.
Alex is editor in chief of Bodyketosis, an author, low-carb enthusiast and a recovering chubby guy who reclaimed his health using the ketogenic lifestyle. The need for the keto life began after his aunt and cousin were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and he was next in line. Through personal experience and extensive scientific research, Alex offers insightful tips for everything keto.
Depending on where you are going on vacation, you may have a measure of control over what you will be eating. For Keto dieters who are staying at a hotel and will be traveling from tourist spot to tourist spot, check with your hotel and see what kind of meal options their restaurant offers or whether there’s a continental breakfast. There may be fewer Keto-friendly options to choose from, but you will likely be able to find something to enjoy. Also, when out traveling, be sure to stop at grocery stores and purchase some Keto-friendly snacks that travel well, such as cured meats or cheeses, which can help keep you from overindulging.
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?
We’ve all seen it on food labels: “Only 2 net carbs” or “Low net carbs.” But what does this truly mean? What are net carbs, and why does it matter? Are all net carbs created equal, or are we stretching those claims a bit too much? After reading through this article, I think you will agree that there is a pressing need to educate on the precise definition of net carbs, and what exactly constitutes a true fiber.
Non-starchy vegetables are an essential part of the keto diet because they provide essential vitamins and minerals, are packed with antioxidants and provide plenty of fiber. Plus, when you load up on veggies, you are adding volume to your meals so that you feel more satisfied. You are also working to reduce inflammation, increase your antioxidant intake and support the health of your heart.
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.
In most cases, if you grab a low-carb snack at random from the grocery store shelf and look at the label, a common nutrient profile contains around 20 grams of carbohydrates, yet maybe 15 of those grams are from “fiber.” The result is five grams of net carbs, right? Not so fast. . . if a Type I diabetic were to consume that bar, cookie, or brownie with the five grams of net carbs, there should not be a need for insulin since, theoretically, there is minimal glucose (blood sugar) entering the system from those five net carbs, which shouldn’t require an insulin response. Unfortunately, theory and outcome do not always match.
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.