Getting enough fiber
on the Paleo diet

Going on the Paleo diet and eliminating grains
 don't mean that your diet will lack fiber.

Taking grains out of your diet doesn’t mean that you will have to suffer from constipation. Grains are actually not the only source of fiber and you can get plenty by including non-grain plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits and tubers, at most of your meals. A typical day of eating real foods by following the Paleo diet principles can easily add to up to 42 g of fiber (based on a 2,200-calorie diet), as shown by Cordain. (23) You can find good sources of grain-free fiber in the table below.

In any case, fiber is probably not essential to health. Many past and present hunter-gatherer tribes, such as the Inuits as well as the Alaska and Greenland Natives, have lived healthily with virtually no fiber without suffering from constipation!

Most people wrongly believe that fiber is necessary to give stools bulk, but about 75% of your stools (dry weight)
is dead bacteria, not fiber
. (24) Having a healthy gut flora by choosing real food and incorporating probiotics or fermented foods like raw sauerkraut will help you stay regular without grains. Moreover, the higher fat content of the Paleo diet promotes regular bowel movements. (25)

Paleo Sources of Fiber

Food Group

Food

Serving Size

Fiber (g)*

Veggies

Broccoli, cooked

1 cup

5.1

Leafy greens, cooked

1 cup

4.3-5.1

Brussel sprouts, cooked

1 cup

4.1

Squash (spaghetti, butternut)

1 cup

2.2-6.6

Onions, cooked

1 cup

2.9

Cauliflower, cooked

1 cup

2.9

Eggplant, cooked

1 cup

2.5

Carrots, raw or cooked

1 cup

2.3

Cabbage, raw or cooked

1 cup

1.8-2.8

Leafy greens, raw

2 cups

1.3-2.1

Sauerkraut, raw

¼ cup

0.9

Tubers

Sweet potatoes, cooked (without skin)

1 cup

8.2

Plantain, cooked

1 cup

3.5-4.6

Potatoes, cooked (without skin)

1 cup

3.1

Fruits

Berries

1 cup

3.6-8.0

Pear

1 medium

5.5

Mango

1 medium

5.4

Apple

1 medium

4.4

Dried figs

5

4.1

Banana

1 medium

3.1

Orange

1 medium

2.3

Fats

Avocado

1 medium

13.5

Coconut (unsweetened, dried)

2 tbsp

4.6

Nuts

1 oz

1.9-3.5

Nut butter

2 tbsp

3.2

*Reference: USDA National Nutrient Database (26)

Download the PDF version
of the "Paleo sources of fiber" table

If you are constipated after starting on the Paleo diet, give yourself a little time. Make sure you drink enough water, eat your veggies, don’t skimp on fat, get probiotics from good-quality supplements or fermented vegetables and move a little bit more every day.


More info about grains from the Paleo dietitian:
10 reasons to follow a grain-free Paleo diet.
Learn all about what make grains inappropriate on the Paleo diet: gluten, phytates, lectins, antinutrients, high carbohydrate content, FODMAPs...

What about gluten-free grains on the Paleo diet?
If you think that giving up gluten-containing grains is enough, think again! Including gluten-free grains in your Paleo diet could be holding your back.


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References: (1) United States Department of Agriculture. ChooseMyPlate.gov. (accessed January 2012)(2) Cordain L. The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat. 2002: 42.(3) Cordain L. Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword. World Rev Nutr Diet. 1999; 84: 19–73.(4) Allam AH, et al. Atherosclerosis in Ancient Egyptian Mummies - The Horus Study. J Am Coll Cardiol Img. 2011; 4: 315-327.(5) Sapone A, et al. Divergence of Gut Permeability and Mucosal immune Gene Expression in Two Gluten-Associated Conditions: eliac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity. BMC Medicine. 2011; 9: 23.(6) Wangen W. Healthier Without Wheat – A New Understanding of Wheat Allergies, Celiac Disease, and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance. 2009.(7) Drago S, et al. Gliadin, Zonulin and Gut Permeability: Effects on Celiac and Non-Celiac Intestinal Mucosa and Intestinal Cell Lines. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 2006; 41: 408.419.(8) Rose A. Phytic Acid – Tips for Consumers from Food Science. 2012. (accessed January 2012)(9) Reddy NR and Sathe, SK. Food Phytates. 2001(10) Nachbar MS and Oppenheim JD. Lectins in the United States diet: a Survey of Lectins in Commonly Consumed Foods and a Review of the Litterature. Am J Clin Nutr. 1980; 33: 2338-2345.(11) Vasconcelos IM and Oliveira JTA. Antinutritional Properties of Plant Lectins. Toxicon. 2004; 44: 385-403.(12) Lavelle EC, et al. The Identification of Plant Lectins With Mucosal Adjuvant Activity. Immunology. 2001; 102: 77-86.(13) Cordain L, et al. Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet: Health Implications for the 21st Century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005; 81:341-54.(14) Simopoulos AP. The Importance of the Ratio of Omega-6/Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2002; 56(8): 365-79.(15) Hite AH, et al. Low-Carbohydrate Diet Review: Shifting the Paradigm. Nutr Clin Pract. 2011; 26: 300-308.(16) Phinney SD and Volek JS. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable. 2011.(17) Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. 2005: 275.(18) Wolf, R. The Paleo Solution – The Original Human Diet. 2010.(19) Zioudrou C, et al. Opioid Peptides Derived from Food Proteins. J Biol Chem. 1979; 254(7): 2446-2449.(20) Gibson PR, et al. Review Article: Fructose Malabsorption and the Bigger Picture. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006; 25: 349–36.(21)  Keith L. The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability. 2009.(22) Manning R. Against the Grains – How Agriculture has Hijacked Civilization. 2005.(23) Cordain L. The Nutritional Characteristics of a Contemporary Diet Based Upon Paleolithic Food Groups. JANA. 2002; 5(3): 15-24.(24) Stephen AM and Cummings JH. The Microbial Contribution to Human Faecal Mass. J Med Microbiol. 1980; 13: 45-56.(25)  Schmidt RF and Thews G. Colonic Motility. Human Physiology. 1989; 29.7:731.(26)  United States Department of Agriculture. USDA National Nutrient Database Food Search for Windows, Version 1.0, Database Version SR23.


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