Every bodybuilder knows that protein is the key to muscle growth, and that carbs and fat provide vital energy. But there is a “secret” nutrient that you may not give much thought to, but which can accelerate your muscle-building efforts: dietary fiber.
Just how can fiber for bodybuilding help you build new mass? Let’s find out.
What Is Fiber?
Fiber is a form of carbohydrate that comes from fruits, vegetables, and grains, and its broad identifying characteristic is that it is indigestible. Fiber is further divided into two types: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber absorbs water and turns into a sort of mush in your digestive system. Good sources include oats, apples, berries, and nuts.
Insoluble fiber does NOT absorb water and passes through you pretty much unchanged. Good sources include celery, seeds, fruit skins, and grain brans.
What Are the Benefits of Fiber?
Fiber provides you with a host of benefits, with the most famous being that it keeps you “regular” and help promote healthy bowel movements. Soluble fiber adds bulk to your waste as it moves through your intestines, and insoluble fiber can help move things along, easing problems like constipation.
Both types of fiber also help you feel full and can slow digestion, making them valuable aids to a fat-loss program.
Finally, soluble fiber can attach to cholesterol in your digestive system and may therefore help prevent heart disease, and it also helps improve nutrient utilization.
But How Can Fiber Help With MUSCLE GAIN?
OK, so fiber is good for you, but how does that make it a muscle-building food?
It all comes down to building vibrant health and clearing the way, literally, for progress.
When you eat AND train hard and heavy enough to build muscle, the digestive process leaves you with the building blocks for new mass. Unfortunately, it also leaves you with plenty of waste products that can become toxic if they lie around in your gut for very long. Your body will treat this as a disease condition and focus its energies on trying to fight off the “attack” from bad bacteria in your belly.
A diet rich in fiber, then, helps keep you “clean” and reserves your body’s restorative powers for workout recovery and growth.
Fiber also helps your absorb the nutrients that you desperately need in order to add lean mass, primarily because it slows down the digestion process up front.
How Much and When?
If fiber can help you build muscle, how much of it should you eat, and when, for best results?
The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends that men take in 38 grams of fiber per day, while women should aim for 25. These are just guidelines, of course, and will vary with your specific diet, but this is one case where bodybuilders don’t need significantly more than the average person.
In particular, you should be careful loading up on fiber because it can cause cramping and discomfort if you add too much too soon.
Generally, you should also avoid high-fiber fare before and after your workout since it slows down digestion. You don’t want to train on a FULL belly, and you should usually opt for fast-digesting fare after you train.
Especially if you haven’t focused on fiber consumption in the past and if you have been on a typical “bulking” diet, you may be surprised by how little fiber you’re currently taking in. It won’t turn you into The Hulk overnight, but correcting that neglect could lead you to better health, more energy, and bigger muscles in the long run.