Protein is out and fiber is in. Diets used to be all about small but protein-filled portions. Now, you have Michelle Obama teasing Jay Leno for his fiber-shy preferences and force feeding him a veggie, whole wheat pizza on his late night show.
And just about every restaurant and food label got the memo. Every box or package highlights their serving of fiber but, truthfully, only a tiny percentage of items at popular restaurants and on grocery store shelves offer any significant amount of the stuff, without loads of extra sugar, carbs and calories. Here are the fakers and their genuine alternatives:
The Whole Wheat Sub:
Whether it be from Subway, Quiznos or your neighborhood deli, most of those hefty torpedo loafs of whole wheat bread seem like a healthy option. But you’re usually only getting around 10 grams of fiber caged in way too many carbs. A foot long honey oat loaf from Subway contains 10 grams of fiber, but 49 grams of carbohydrates! And since fiber is meant to “keep things moving” and carbs do just the opposite, who do you think wins the digestive battle in that loaf?
While it’s not as hand-held friendly, the sliced bread options behind that deli counter usually pack just as much if not more fiber in less than half the carbs.
Triscuits, Wheat Thins, Sun Chips. They’re colored brown and we’re meant to believe they are little squares of fiber. Nuh uh. One serving of Wheat Thins has only two grams of dietary fiber.Sun Chips range from 2 to 4 grams depending on the flavor. Triscuits are a little more loaded with 3 grams in just 6 Triscuits.
But, it’s hard to pack much fiber in these tiny snacks so if you’re looking for fiber in chips and crisps, the trick is in the seeds. The more colorful and texturized the chip, the better. Try flax seed tortilla chips or sesame seed chips. Seeds help “scrape out” your insides, and that’s a good thing!
Weetabix, Granola, Raisin Bran, Multigrain Cheerios. All of these bank on our misunderstanding of their labels. Weetabix offers 4 grams of fiber, but packed into 29 grams of carbs. Meaning you need to consume nearly 60 grams of carbs to get any significant amount of fiber. Raisin Bran admittedly racks up 7 grams of fiber in a serving, but that comes with a hefty 19 grams of sugar. To put things in perspective, the popular children’s cereal Fruit Loops has only 12 grams of sugar. Multigrain Cheerios are essentially colored circles of air, with a measly 3 grams of fiber in one cup.
The reality is, the fiber-filled cereals aren’t going to be the tastiest. So flavor high fiber cereals like Kashi GoLean Crunch Fiber Twigs or Fiber One cereal with a few drops of honey, sliced bananas or blueberries, or even some peanut butter for protein. Your safest bet is to do the flavoring yourself and opt for cereals with 6 or less grams of sugar.
Many Mexican restaurants are offering it in their burritos now, and you probably pick it over the baked potato side option in restaurants but, brown rice actually only contains 2 grams of fiber in half a cup, which is about how much the average person eats of it in one sitting. It’s hard to find these alternatives in restaurants, but definitely consider them in your shopping trips. Couscous has 4.3 grams per half a cup, lentils have a whopping 7.5 grams per half cup, and quinoa offers 5 grams. Even whole-wheat pasta (yes pasta, the dieter’s sworn enemy) has up to 5 grams in half a cup. Hopefully this has helped you learn how to spot the fiber-fakers!