< Blog < Eat Well < Vitamins & Supplements < Best Time to Take Fiber Supplements and Consume Dietary Fiber

Best Time to Take Fiber Supplements and Consume Dietary Fiber

6 min read
when to take fiber supplements
Melissa Mitri post Reviewer Melissa Mitri post Reviewer
Verified by Melissa Mitri
MS, Registered Dietitian, Former President of CT Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Table of Contents

If you are on a low-fiber diet like keto, struggling with constipation, or simply want to increase your fiber intake, there is often the question of when the best time of day to eat fiber is. Is it better to have fiber before or after meals, in the morning, or at night? 

This article will cover the types of fiber, their benefits, the best time to eat fiber or take fiber supplements, and more. 

Types of Fiber and Why You May Need Fiber Supplements

So, what is fiber? In general, fiber is a plant-based material that the body cannot break down. 

Because of this, fiber moves through the gastrointestinal tract and out, promoting healthy bowel movements and gut health. 

The two main types of fiber include soluble and insoluble fiber.

  • Soluble fiber dissolves in water in the body to form a gel. Soluble fiber often helps with diarrhea as it bulks up and hardens stool. It is found in foods like oats, apples, beans, and more. 
  • Insoluble fiber that cannot be dissolved in water. It helps alleviate constipation as it moves through the body and stimulates bowel movements. Insoluble fiber is often found in whole grains, beans, and vegetables.

The popular fiber products Metamucil and Benefiber are primarily composed of soluble fiber. Another fiber supplement Citrucel contains mostly insoluble fiber and thus has more of a laxative effect. 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), taking or consuming soluble fiber can not only improve diarrhea symptoms but also benefit cholesterol levels, decrease heart disease risk, and help control blood sugar levels. [1]

Dietary Recommendations for Fiber Intake

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, it is recommended that women have about 25 grams of fiber daily, while men should aim for 38 grams of fiber each day. [2]

There are also dietary patterns that may require fiber supplementation. Among them are low-carbohydrate or keto diet, when carbs (and fiber is a type of carbohydrate) and high-fiber foods are significantly limited. This is when fiber supplements really come in handy.

However, taking fiber supplements with a laxative effect is not recommended for weight loss. 

If you struggle to lose weight, speak with a registered dietitian for individualized nutrition guidance. Also, this all-in-one weight loss app is an excellent tool for making weight loss easier and more manageable. 

Natural Vs. Synthetic Fiber

The fiber in supplements can either be natural, derived directly from plant sources such as flaxseed or psyllium husk, or synthetic, which is produced through a certain degree of processing or modification, like methylcellulose.

Both natural and synthetic fiber supplements are safe and can equally provide health benefits. [3]

When Should You Take Fiber Supplements, Before or After a Meal? 

You can take fiber supplements on an empty stomach or with food as long as you accompany them with a full glass of water or as directed in the product instructions.

Keep in mind that the supplement makes you feel full. So it may be best to consume it after or between meals so you can continue to eat a healthy and balanced diet. 

Your diet should also include fiber-rich foods in addition to your supplement. And as mentioned above, it is not healthy to use fiber supplements for weight loss purposes. 

Best Time of Day to Eat Fiber

It’s a common rule to include fiber in every meal throughout the day. However, if you are not used to having much fiber in your diet, you might experience some gastrointestinal discomfort initially, such as bloating, abdominal cramps, and gas. 

To prevent these symptoms, gradually increase your fiber intake daily and ensure you are drinking plenty of water at the same time. You may also increase your fiber intake for breakfast and lunch when the digestive tract is at its peak–this will help avoid these symptoms.

Physical activity, even some walking or slow movements, will also help promote gastrointestinal motility and healthy bowel movements. 

As mentioned above, the two fiber types include soluble and insoluble fiber. Consuming whole grains with meals and snacks provide insoluble fiber while beans, apples, oats, and more supply soluble fiber. 

Distributing your dietary fiber intake from soluble and insoluble fiber throughout the day can help reduce uncomfortable gastrointestinal digestive symptoms. 

For example, adding fruits and oats for breakfast, beans and whole grains for lunch, and vegetables with your dinner can help spread out your fiber intake all day.

Possible Side Effects of Fiber Supplements

Most side effects of taking fiber supplements subside after your body gets used to the supplement. The most common side effects are:

  • gas and bloating
  • cramping
  • diarrhea
  • constipation

You should also take it with a full glass of water so that it will not swell in the throat to prevent a capsule from swelling in the throat and causing choking.

Allergic reactions to fiber supplements are also rare.

Ways to Increase Fiber Intake

Here are some easy ways to increase your dietary fiber intake from whole foods.

  • Swap white bread, pasta, and rice with their whole grain or whole wheat counterparts.
  • Increase your fruit and vegetable consumption at every meal and snack. 
  • Don’t remove the skin of your apples, pears, or any other fruit or vegetable with skin.
  • It is best to have whole fruit and vegetables versus juice (even 100% juice) because the juice has the fiber removed. Juice also contains added sugars that, in large amounts, can negatively affect health.
  • Top your favorite foods, such as yogurt, cereal, or cottage cheese, with nuts and seeds for a fiber boost. 

Final Words

Let’s summarize some key takeaways from this article.

  • Fiber is plant material that the body cannot digest. Insoluble fiber cannot be dissolved in water and promotes constipation relief. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel and can help bulk or thicken the stool.
  • Soluble fiber is found in oats, beans, legumes, and more, while insoluble fiber is in whole grains such as brown rice, wheat bread, and whole-grain pasta, as well as beans and vegetables.
  • Make sure to gradually increase your fiber intake, especially if you are not used to eating or taking too much fiber. Also, drink plenty of water to prevent gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, abdominal cramps, and gas. 
  • You can take fiber supplements at any time as long as it is with a glass of water or as directed on the product packaging. You may want to take the supplements earlier in the day to prevent uncomfortable symptoms close to when you go to sleep. 
  • Additionally, taking fiber supplements before meals may make you feel too full to eat. So it may be best to consume them in between meals to promote a healthy diet. 
  • Speak with your physician if you are taking medications to see if it’s safe to take fiber supplements. 
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

We recommend reading