Body Conquest Articles | Fibre Facts

Administrator on Tuesday, 16 April 2013. Posted in Training



Fibre is a general term for parts of the plant food that we cannot digest, although bacteria in the large bowel partly digests fibre through a process called colonic fermentation. Fibre is not found in food of animal origin, so is not found in meats and dairy foods. Most Australians do not eat anywhere near enough fibre on a daily basis-around 20 grams a day instead of the 30-35 grams a day that nutritionists would like to see us eat. This is largely due to our ever-growing propensity to eat refined and processed foods that are manufactured instead of healthier alternatives that can be picked right off the land in their most natural state.

Dietary fibre includes two insoluble forms, cellulose and hemicellulose, and three soluble forms, pectin's gums and mucilages. Insoluble fibres make up the structural parts of plant cell walls. These fibres absorb many times their own weight in water. They create a soft bulk and hasten the passage of waste products through the intestines. They promote bowel regularity and aid in the prevention and treatment of conditions such as haemorrhoids, constipation and diverticulosis. The risk of colon cancer may also be reduced by fibre's diluting effect of potentially harmful substances.

Soluble fibre forms a gel that slows both stomach emptying and the absorption of sugars from the intestines. This helps to control blood sugar levels. Some soluble fibres can lower blood cholesterol by binding bile acids (which are made from cholesterol to emulsify dietary fats and excreting them).

The end products of fibre include the gases carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen along with short chain fatty acids. The degree of fermentation in the large bowel depends on the type of fibre and varies between individuals.


The advantages of ingesting a diet high in carbohydrates that contain adequate bulk and fibre are numerous. With the trend in following low-carbohydrate diets a lot of nutrition conscious, fitness-minded individuals are wondering if they should pass on the pasta and say bye bye to bagels. Don't be too hasty! Decades of research have proven that diets rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruits (all high in fibre) help prevent disease, control bodyweight and optimise athletic performance...all-important to the bodybuilding athlete. The following are four great reasons for bodybuilders and indeed all athletes to increase their fibre intake:

Food items that are fibrous in their natural and unrefined state are often greater in volume and lower in calories than foods that don't have adequate roughage and fibre. This can help prevent overeating because of their bulk, which creates a sense of fullness ( a good thing!). To put this into perspective, the average pound of T-bone steak will have roughly 1900 calories. From a fibrous complex carbohydrate source such as brown rice, you would have to eat 11 cups of the rice to ingest the same amount of calories, making it virtually impossible to do so.

Carbohydrates that contain adequate bulk and fibre often have a percentage of natural and unrefined sugars and these sugars are introduced into the blood stream to a greater extent than if they were ingested in their isolated form. The slower digestive process allows your levels of energy to be in a more steady, consistent state. Controlling sugar levels whilst training for a bigger, leaner body is a no-brainer, and having a diet high in fibre is an excellent way to help manage your sugar levels.

Timing of carbohydrate ingestion has been given a lot more attention in recent years. Carbohydrates containing fibre is important to take in early in the morning upon rising because your glucose levels are low when you first wake up. Whilst asleep your brain uses up around 60% of its blood glucose stores . Therefore it is very important to begin each morning with a breakfast containing adequate natural and unrefined carbohydrates that will slowly raise glucose levels back to normal.

Whilst no means a glamorous reason, carbohydrates containing roughage and fibre also aid in the elimination of body waste i.e. regular bowel movements and intestinal cleansing. So, by now the immediate advantages of roughage and fibre should now be clear.


Lets take a look at what happens when we take three apples and produce 1 glass of apple juice and thereby removing the fibre. Firstly, this removal concentrates all of the sugar and the calories.



  • High fibre Vs Negligible fibre
  • Sugar Slowly Absorbed Vs Sugar Quickly Absorbed
  • Long Eating time Vs Short Eating Time (Drink)
  • Satisfies Hunger Vs Doesn't satisfy Hunger
  • Less Insulin Required Vs More Insulin Required
  • Low Calorie Density Vs High Calorie Density


Upon reading this, you may decide to increase the specific component of carbohydrate in the form of fibre in your diet. I would advise a gradual increase in fibre, as this will minimise the possible side effects, which may include flatulence and possibly diarrhoea. When you increase your fibre intake you will need to monitor your fluid intake and make sure that it is adequate. (Although I might add, if you are training seriously your fluids will be adequate because you already understand the importance of water in the aid of building muscle and burning fat!!). If you are committing one of bodybuilding's cardinal sins and aren't drinking enough water constipation may result due to absorption of water by fibre in the large bowel. One other thing to make mention of is that large quantities of insoluble fibre-for example wheat bran, can interfere with the absorption of iron in the body so make sure you make allowances for this.


  • Use wholegrain bread and cereals such as brown rice, wholemeal spaghetti and other pasta, wholegrain breakfast cereal, wholegrain oatmeal/porridge, wholemeal flour and wholegrain crispbread
  • Eat at least three pieces of fruit and four serves of vegetables a day
  • Eat the skins on fruits and vegetables, for example, potato in their jackets and the skins on apples, pears, nectarines and peaches...even kiwi fruit.
  • Choose wholemeal rolls and bagels when ordering take away food
  • Thicken your soups with bran or wholemeal flour
  • Add one tablespoon of bran or wheat germ to prepared breakfast cereals
  • Add 1 teaspoon of psyllium husks to your protein drinks in the mornings
  • Choose foods labeled to indicate a higher fibre content
Optimum eating is crucial to bodybuilding success. Correct eating will stimulate growth, allow for efficient fat burning and encourage more intense workouts in the gym. This requires a stronger element of understanding of our nutritional requirements beyond just the basic macronutrient knowledge. Fibre, a component of carbohydrates allows for prevention of disease, elimination of waste and greater feeling of satiety and should be included in every bodybuilders diet in healthy quantities.

Powers and Howley, Exercise Physiology, McCraw Hill,1998 p.326

ibid p.327

Borushek. A. Calorie and Fat Counter, Family Health Publications, 2003, p.207

Kennedy,R & Weis, D. Mass, Contemporary Books, 1986 p.102