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.
Psyllium husk is a type of fiber commonly used as a gentle, bulk-forming laxative. With no net carbs and a whopping 7 grams of fiber per two tablespoon serving, ground psyllium is an easy way to increase fiber intake on the keto diet. “It works great as a binding agent in recipes,” Yule says. “Just make sure to consume it with plenty of water, coconut water, or juice to avoid dehydration.” Add a tablespoon to your beverage, and you’re good to go.
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?
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?
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.
Lastly, one of the advertised benefits of IMO is possible prebiotic activity. Prebiotics are critical, as they feed the beneficial bacteria in our digestive system, specifically in the large intestine. These bacteria have several amazing functions, such as lowering body fat, improving insulin sensitivity, and lowering depression. Two “gold standard” prebiotics in the industry are inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Inulin and FOS are non-digestible carbohydrates that robustly increase beneficial bacteria. The challenge, however, is that both inulin and FOS, due to their rapid digestibility by intestinal bacteria, result in low gastric tolerance, and, ultimately, gastric distress. Additionally, inulin and FOS, when added to protein bars or other goods, may degrade over time into individual sugar units. Regardless, one study comparing inulin to IMOs, found that the prebiotic activity in inulin is 14 times greater than that of IMOs. This is logical because, as you recall from above, approximately 70% to 90% of IMOs are digested. As such, only a small portion of these prebiotic fibers make it to the large intestine, in which two out of three studies have demonstrated that this small portion may indeed have some prebiotic effects.