Getting 30g of fibre per day can be difficult to achieve. We all know that fibre is good for us and we should be eating more. But how do we eat more fibre and how much more should we be eating?
This article answers these queries, which foods you can find fibre in, and also provides you with a typical meal plan you could follow or gain ideas on how to add fibre to the diet.
Table of Contents
What is fibre?
You may have heard of fibre mentioned a lot and that there are benefits to having a fibre-rich diet but, what is fibre?
It is true that fibre is tricky to define. However, it is known as the ‘non-digestible constituent of carbohydrates.’ (1).
This means that the body does not break down fibre, instead, it passes through the gut.
Which foods contain fibre?
Luckily, there are many options to choose from when trying to meet the 30g of fibre per day.
Foods that contain fibre are cereals, whole grain-based foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
The following foods portions contain 2g of fibre (2):
- 3 Apricots
- 4 Dates
- 3 Prunes
- 1 tablespoon Raisins, sultanas
- 1 tablespoon (¼ can) of Butter beans
- 1 tablespoon (¼ can) of Baked beans
- 1 tablespoon (¼ can) of Kidney beans
- 2 tablespoons of cooked lentils
- 1 small slice of wholemeal bread
- 1 ½ slice of brown bread
- 2 small slices of soft grain
- ½ Wholemeal roll
- 1 ½ Ryvita
- 1 tablespoon of All Bran
- 2 tablespoons of Branflakes
- 8 tablespoons of Cornflakes
- 2 tablespoons of Muesli
- 2 tablespoons of Porridge
- 1 biscuit of Shredded Wheat/ Weetabix
Rice and pasta:
- 3 tablespoons of cooked brown rice
- 2 3 tablespoons of cooked wholemeal pasta
Vegetables that contain more fibre:
- 2 tablespoons/ 30g of spinach
- 3 tablespoons/ 85g of parsnips
- 3 tablespoons/ 85g of turnips
- 2 tablespoons/ half a corn on the cob of sweetcorn
- ½ medium potato with the skin
Fruits that contain more fibre:
- 1 small banana
- 1 medium pear
- 1 medium peach
- ¼ pineapple
Why 30g Fibre a Day?
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) released updated guidelines in 2015 explaining that the general population’s intake of fibre should be 30g/day (1). Previously it was suggested that the general population should aim for 18g /day (3).
Now you know that the daily target of 30g of fibre doesn’t come from nowhere!
SACN is responsible for continuously researching and analysing good quality data over time.
They also state that a diet rich in foods containing fibre will also be rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals and fibre will help to add bulk to our stools and regulate its type and frequency (1).
30g Fibre / Day Meal Plan
Below is a ‘meal plan’ to act as an example to see how fibre can fit into your typical day of eating. Sometimes it can be difficult to think of how to slot more fibre into the diet.
Please note that this meal plan is for inspiration only and can not account for your personal nutritional requirements.
|Breakfast||220g porridge made with semi- skimmed milk , ½ tsp honey , 10 blueberries , 8 raspberries and 1tbsp flaked almonds||Porridge made with semi- skimmed milk , honey , blueberries , raspberries and flaked almonds||Porridge made with semi- skimmed milk , honey , blueberries , raspberries and flaked almonds||Porridge made with semi- skimmed milk , honey , blueberries , raspberries and flaked almonds||Porridge made with semi- skimmed milk , honey , blueberries , raspberries and flaked almonds|
|Lunch||Baked potato (with skin) with 45g tuna, mayonnaise and salad (50g lettuce , 8 slices cucumber , 6 cherry tomatoes and ½ a pepper)|
|2 slices turkey, mayonnaise and salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and peppers) in a wholemeal tortilla wrap|
|45g Chicken, ½ an avocado, 40g lettuce and mayonnaise on 2 slices wholemeal bread1 large slice Ham and 65g wholemeal pasta salad with mayonnaise (lettuce, cucumber , tomatoes and peppers)|
1 yoghurt (added one handful of mixed seeds to yoghurt : pumpkin seeds , flaxseeds)
|1 large slice Ham and 65g wholemeal pasta salad with mayonnaise (lettuce, cucumber , tomatoes and peppers)|
|3 slices cheddar cheese , mayonnaise and salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and peppers) on wholemeal bread
|Evening Meal||1 Salmon fillet covered in 1 tsp pesto and wrapped in 2 slices Parma ham with 100g wholemeal rice , 80g spinach, 1 courgette, 3 spears of broccoli and 5 cherry tomatoes||Chicken Kiev (shop bought) with 80g spinach , 80g peas and sweet potato chips (1 whole with skin)||Added spinach between layers , swapped mascarpone for low fat soft cheese, did not use mozzarella and made with wholemeal tortillas||Thai red Chicken curry (made with shop bought curry paste and 1 400g can light coconut milk) with ½ a pepper, 66g (1 cup) peas, 1 courgette, 20g spinach and 100g wholemeal rice||1 Salmon fillet and 80g prawns 100g wholemeal pasta with 25g spinach and 80g peas|
|Snacks||1 banana , 1 passionfruit with yoghurt||2 medium carrots(not peeled) with 2 tbsp hummus|
4 dried dates
|1 apple||1 yoghurt|
1 25g bag of sweet popcorn
|2 medium carrots (not peeled) with hummus
4 dried dates
Easy Swaps To Make To Your Diet
- Swap to wholegrain carbohydrate products (brown rice, brown bread, brown pasta) for more fibre in your diet.
- Have at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Snack on dried fruit.
- Add beans or lentils to your meals.
- Add nuts and seeds to your cereal or snack on them throughout the day.
Easy High Fibre Meal Ideas
Practical Solution to Difficulties Following a High Fibre Diet
#1: Difficulty: I found that it was far more food than I was used to eating in order to meet the 30g/day fibre target.
- Adding one high fibre snack/ day such as a piece of fruit or vegetable with the skins
- Add two smaller high fibre snacks e.g. carrots and hummus and dates
- Add the fibre to your current meals that you eat without further increasing the portion size e.g. adding 1 handful of flaked almonds to porridge, 1 handful of seeds to yoghurts and adding extra vegetables or salad to meals
#2: Difficulty: Estimating how much fibre was in each meal/snack as this something we don’t usually tract or take notice of.
- You may find it easier to add up the fibre in your diet as you go along for at least a few days.
- It can take some time to get used to the amounts of fibre in different foods but after a short while be able to estimate the fibre content more accurately.
- You can make use of packets (check the back for details) and mobile phone apps in order to check amounts accurately.
#3: Difficulty: I found that the days I was out and about and busy were the days I struggled to meet the target for fibre.
- Bring snacks in your bag which you can nibble on which are high fibre options.
Easy ways to boost fibre content
Here are 10 top tips to boost the fibre content of your meals.
- Eat the brown/wholemeal versions of your regular carbohydrates (brown rice, wholewheat chapatis, wholemeal wraps, brown pasta, wholemeal bagel, wholemeal spaghetti). These are normally price matched in the supermarket.
- Pre-chop fruits and vegetables to have in your fridge so you always have a quick snack to hand.
- Add nuts and seeds to your breakfast or snack.
- Replace the meat in recipes with beans and legumes i.e.lentil bolognese, black/ kidney bean tacos.
- Leave the skin on certain fruits and vegetables such as apples, kiwis, potatoes and cucumbers.
- Choose a higher fibre cereal such as Weetabix, shredded wheat or porridge oats.
- Have some dried fruit on your breakfast, as a snack or for a pudding option.
- Add a grain such as quinoa, bulgar wheat, couscous and brown rice to salads
- Sprinkle seeds such as flax seeds and linseeds into smoothies, on salads, on breakfast cereals.
- Bulk out curries, stews and soups with beans and pulses.
If you struggle to meet the 30g of fibre per day, you are able to use fibre supplements. Here are some options that are evidence based.
Linseeds and flaxseeds are derived from the same plant and contain just over 3g of fibre per tablespoon. It is important to start small e.g. 1 teaspoon and work your way up to 2 tablespoons per day if you wish (6).
Do NOT use wheat brain to increase fibre. It has a high fructan content which can cause IBS symptoms e.g. bloating and abdominal pain (7, 8). Foods high in wheat bran include baked goods made with wheat bran, certain breads and cereals (such as ‘All Bran’ cereal).
Hopefully it is clearer what fibre is, where you can find it and how it benefits the body. Please note that if you have IBS, it’s not always best to increase dietary fibre intake to try to meet this 30g recommendation. Work with your dietitian to find what best suits you.
It is also important to increase fibre intake. Adding fibre to the diet quickly and in large amounts can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating and constipation.
Drinking plenty of fluid is also recommended to aid the increase in fibre intake, otherwise you can become constipated.
McCance, R. A., & Widdowson, E. M. (2015). McCance and Widdowson’s the composition of foods. Information can be downloaded at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid#history
Kirsten Jackson is a UK registered Consultant Gastroenterology Dietitian and founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. She has undergone many qualifications to get where she is today, including a UK BSc Honours Degree in Dietetics and Post-Graduate Certificate in Advanced Dietetics. In addition to this, she has FODMAP Training from Kings College London University. Kirsten set up The Food Treatment Clinic in 2015 after first experiencing digestive problems herself. She felt that the NHS was unable to provide the support individuals needed and went on to specialise in this area before opening a bespoke IBS service. Kirsten also participates in charity work as an Expert Advisor for the IBS Network. In addition, she can be seen in publications such as Cosmopolitan and The Telegraph discussing IBS as an Official Media Spokesperson to the IBS Network.