Many people take a daily fiber supplement because it can help manage weight, decrease appetite, reduce risk for chronic disease, and improve gastrointestinal health.
Increasing your dietary fiber also facilitates a smoother digestion process.
Fiber supplements are cheap, easy to use, and widely available. Here are the best ones, ranked.
1. Viva Naturals Organic Psyllium Husks
Viva Naturals has made a name for itself delivering simple, no-nonsense basic supplements for a great price, and their psyllium husk fiber supplement is no exception. No flavorings, no additives, and a phenomenal price per serving make this an excellent choice for a powder based fiber supplement. And to top it all off, it’s certified organic!
This is good news if you want to cut down on the number of unnecessary pesticides and herbicides that make their way into your food and supplements. When it’s this easy and cheap to go organic, it’s a no-brainer.
2. Garden of Life Raw Fiber
Garden of Life always has a unique take on a given supplement. While most other companies focus on sourcing one type of fiber, Garden of Life’s Raw Fiber supplement includes over a dozen different sources of fiber, including quinoa, chia seeds, coconut fiber, pumpkin seeds, and more.
These are sweetened with Stevia, which, although it is a naturally-derived non-caloric sweetener, may not be up your alley. To top it all off, Garden of Life includes a hefty serving of Bacillus coagulans probiotic bacteria. If you want a “maximalist” fiber supplement that’s still certified organic, look no further.
3. Optimum Nutrition Fitness Fiber
Though this company is better known for its whey protein and pre-workout supplements, it does make a fiber (with an obvious workout-based bent). Despite the fact that there isn’t much “fitness” about its formulation, Optimum Nutrition does take an interesting angle on their fiber supplement.
It includes a blend of seven different forms of fiber, presumably to provide you with a good mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. It’s totally unflavored, so it will be a little chalky and dry if you drink it straight up, but it’s perfect for mixing into a protein shake or a smoothie. Finally, the price is great.
Benefiber is a big hitter when it comes to popularity, but it’s not actually the best-selling fiber supplement out there. For its fiber base it uses wheat dextrin, which is processed to remove as much gluten as possible. It’s certified to contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten, which qualifies it for the label of “gluten free.”
If you have a wheat allergy, or have particularly sensitive celiac disease, you might consider a non-wheat based fiber despite this certification. It’s unflavored and unsweetened, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your preferences. Benefiber is often lauded for its ability to mix into baked goods and prepared foods to up their fiber content, as it doesn’t cause most liquids to clump up.
5. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro Fiber
Manitoba Harvest offers an interesting combo of protein and fiber with just one ingredient. As it turns out, raw milled hemp protein has nearly equal protein and fiber content: one scoop of the loose powder provides 11 grams of protein, 13 grams of fiber, and a tremendous amount of omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 fatty acids.
With its low price, it’s a cost-effective option too. With no real detriments and a lot of major advantages, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro Powder finds its way near the top.
6. Sunergetic Psyllium Husk
The bottle packaging alone tells you what this fiber supplement is all about. It’s a plain, simple, capsule-based fiber supplement that provides a respectable 725 mg of fiber per capsule. It includes a few binders and anti-clumping agents, and notably, the capsules are made of gelatin, so this supplement is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans.
However, it’s a fairly cost-effective capsule based supplement if you don’t need to dramatically up your fiber intake. With 240 capsules per bottle, you could add over five grams of fiber to your dietary intake per day and the bottle would last you over a month. Of course, you’d be downing seven pills a day, so if you need a massive boost in fiber intake, look for a powder-based supplement if you can stomach the taste.
7. Now Psyllium Husk Caps
If you hate the taste of fiber (and really, who doesn’t?) taking it in a capsule form is a nice alternative. Now Psyllium Husk Caps are a perfect options for a pill-based fiber supplement. The fiber is plant-derived and bound up with cellulose and stearic acid (derived from vegetable sources, so no problems for vegetarians and vegans) and delivers 1.1 grams of fiber (most of it soluble fiber) per three-capsule serving.
This is the main downside of capsule based fiber supplements: you have to down a lot of them to get your fiber intake up. Given that the recommended daily intake for fiber for optimal health is 25-38 grams per day (1), you’re going to go through a lot of pills if your fiber intake is low.
8. Metamucil Daily Fiber
As seen on TV, the most-recognized fiber brand has made a few tough choices to broaden its appeal. The classic Metamucil comes as psyllium husk powder, which is great if you really need to crank up your fiber intake. One container provides over 1,000 grams of fiber, which is enough for a month of use even if you got no additional fiber in your diet.
Metamucil is cheap, works well, and will last a long time. However, it is flavored and colored, so if that’s not your preference, look elsewhere. It uses both natural and artificial flavoring, as well as the artificial sweetener aspartame and the coloring agent Yellow 6. There are plenty of reasons to avoid ingredients like this if you are health conscious.
9. Phillips Fiber Good Gummies
For those who really hate the taste and texture of fiber, and can’t handle capsules either, these gummies are one possible solution. They pack a surprising punch: each gummy contains 2 grams of soluble fiber, which is pretty good for a pill-based fiber product.
One drawback is simply package size: a bottle only contains 90 gummies. They are colored and flavored with natural products only, which is nice if you are trying to avoid artificial ingredients in your supplements.
10. Revly Inulin Fiber Gummies
Hate powdered fiber, but can’t stand swallowing capsules either? Revly has a pretty simple solution with their fiber gummies. Using inulin derived from chicory root, you get six grams of soluble fiber per serving.
This convenience comes at a cost, though: there are also three grams of sugar per serving (which is three gummies), and you don’t get any insoluble fiber. Though Revly fills a niche, it’s not the best option for most consumers.
Who should buy fiber?
If you are having a hard time getting enough fiber from fruits, vegetables, and legumes in your diet, a fiber supplement can help correct that deficiency.
If you are having gastrointestinal problems like constipation, a fiber supplement can be especially helpful—often, these problems can be traced to inadequate fiber intake.
A lack of dietary fiber is common in people who travel or eat out a lot, because processed foods are usually quite low in fiber.
High fiber foods don’t last as long on the shelf, so they are not attractive to food manufacturers. They do, however, have quite an impact on both your short-term and long-term health. In addition to regular bowel movements, high fiber diets appear to protect against the development of chronic diseases like type two diabetes and heart disease, which makes fiber one of the easiest and simplest natural supplements to take for your long-term health.
How we ranked
The first criteria we used when formulating our rankings was that any supplement that made it into our rankings be focused primarily on fiber, and not merely delivering fiber as part of a larger overall supplement like a meal replacement shake.
From there, we winnowed down the field by tossing out products that relied heavily on artificial flavoring and didn’t deliver an adequate amount of dietary fiber. For the products that remained, we prioritized natural sources of fiber like psyllium husk and plant seed fiber.
Flavoring was important to us as well, since a bland and flavorless fiber supplement (though great for adding to protein shakes or green drinks) can be hard to consume on a regular basis. This is particularly problematic for fiber because to get the benefits, you need to take fiber every day for a long period of time to make the most out of the long-term health effects.
So, we prioritized great-tasting products, although we had a strong preference for naturally flavored products that used ingredients like stevia, as compared to products that used artificial sweeteners and artificial flavoring agents.
That’s why lesser-known products like Garden of Life (which uses stevia) ended up much higher in the rankings than blockbuster best-sellers like Metamucil (which uses artificial flavorings and colorings).
Finally, we carefully considered the benefits and drawbacks of capsules versus powder-based fiber supplements. In most areas, powder based supplements came out on top: it’s much easier to get the specific dosage you need, and you can mix them into shakes and smoothies as desired.
However, some people just can’t get behind the taste and texture of fiber powder. For them, capsules are desirable. Since powder-based supplements have so many advantages, they ended up at the top of our rankings. That being said, we still left some capsule based products in the rankings due to the niche that they fill.
After sorting the remaining products by purity and quality, we had our final rankings—these are the best fiber supplements on the market right now.
Fiber is key to a healthy digestive system. Fiber is the indigestible carbohydrate content of food, and plays important roles in cultivating vibrant health, especially in our digestive system.
Nutritional experts are continually advising us to include more fiber in the diet. We’ve been told we don’t get enough (1), and eating more fiber is supposed to have benefits across the board, from preventing cancer and heart disease to lowering cholesterol levels.
Dietary fiber is an important part of a well-rounded eating plan. However, the reasons for including plenty of high-fiber foods are more complex than you might think.
Two kinds of fiber are found in the foods we eat; water-soluble fiber obviously dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber does not. Soluble fiber is digested by bacteria in the gut, and this process has a number of beneficial effects on the system. (3)
The soluble fiber found in foods like nuts, seeds, oat bran, lentils, beans and certain fruits and vegetables attracts water and turns to a gel, slowing digestion. The insoluble fiber found in foods like whole grains and vegetables bulks up the stool, and may help foods pass through the digestive system more quickly. (4)
Fiber helps your gut bacteria flourish. Each of us has around a hundred trillion gut flora living in our digestive tract, ten times as many as the number of cells in our bodies. Gut flora enjoy a safe environment, and in turn, perform services for the body it can’t do on its own.
Since most nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, intestinal bacteria are last in line to get the goodies from food we eat. Gut bacteria have the ability to digest fiber, so when the fiber from our diets finally makes it to the large intestine, they go to work digesting what’s been moved along mostly unchanged up to that point.
Prebiotics are a byproduct of this digestion, which increases what’s called the “friendly” bacteria population; when certain species of bacteria thrive in this inner environment, they can positively or negatively affect ratios of lean body mass to body fat. (9)
Butyrate is one of these byproducts, and has been associated with improved colon health. (10, 11) The short-chain fatty acids produced by the digestion of fiber appear to have positive influences on patients with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. (12)
Fiber helps with weight control and blood sugar levels. Different kinds of fiber can have different effects on digestion, as well as on sensitive regulatory processes like blood sugar levels. High-fiber foods are usually lower on the glycemic index, so even vegetables high in natural sugars like sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and beets don’t cause significant spikes in blood sugar because it takes longer to digest them. (13)
Low-fiber foods are often higher on the glycemic index, which can cause problems for diabetics and others who want to avoid the harmful effects of blood sugar spikes.
Foods high in fiber take up more space in the stomach, causing a feeling of satiation, which sends the signal to stop eating. The obvious result of this effect is that a focus on high-fiber foods in the diet may result in a lower overall intake of calories.
In one recent study, women were randomly assigned to follow two diets; one was a standard low-fat diet, and the other diet allowed the consumption of as many high water content fruits and vegetables as the subjects desired.
Both groups lost weight: about 14 pounds average for the low fat group, and 17 pounds for women who ate their fill of added foods, all of which were rich in fiber. The women eating plenty of fruits and veggies ate more food by volume, but consumed fewer total calories. They never felt hungry. (14)
Glucomannan, a water soluble fiber supplement derived from the elephant yam, has shown promise as an effective weight-loss supplement. This super-fiber will absorb 50 times its own weight in water, so when taken before a meal with a glass of water, it puffs up in the stomach, creating a full feeling.
Weight-loss supplements made with glucomannan were tested during a 5-week trial with 176 overweight subjects who followed a low-calorie diet. Results were compared to a control group taking placebos, and those who used the supplement dropped up to 6 more pounds than the control group. (15)
Including plenty of dietary fiber in meals also prolongs the sensation of fullness, which can be helpful in achieving weight-loss goals. (16)
Scientists continue to study the data, but it also appears an abundance of friendly gut bacteria is associated with a leaner Body Mass Index (BMI). (17)
Fiber can help prevent chronic disease. Fiber can positively affect cholesterol levels and other vital health markers. (18)
Research suggests that eating more fiber may be a contributing factor to why plant-based diets have been successful in dropping cholesterol levels, as well as triglyceride measurements and blood pressure. These conditions jack up the risk of coronary heart disease, so upping fiber intake may be useful in treating patients at high risk for cardiovascular problems. (19)
The World Cancer Research Center recommends a plant based diet for decreasing the risk of developing cancer, noting that high fiber intake is especially important in preventing bowel cancer. (20)
Adequate dietary fiber has been associated with a reduction in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. (21) A study report issued by the National Institutes of Health tracked the health and dietary habits of 50,000 men and women in Japan over 14 years; those who consistently included more fiber in their diets had a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. (22)
Fiber supplements are all-natural, but they can cause bloating and gas—especially if you aren’t used to a high fiber diet. Because of the symbiotic relationship between fiber and probiotic bacteria, your bacteria in your gut can quickly proliferate when provided with a lot of fiber.
The result? Gas and bloating. There are a few ways to avoid these side effects. The first, and most simple, is to be patient. As your body adjusts to higher fiber intake, and as your bacterial populations stabilize, you’ll likely have fewer problems with gas and bloating.
f that’s not enough, you can try taking a probiotic supplement to restore balance to your body’s microbiome. Another strategy to try is taking a digestive enzyme to break down some of the other compounds in your diet that might be causing gastrointestinal complaints.
Finally, you can parse out your daily fiber intake into smaller, more frequent doses, versus taking it once per day. It’s a bit less convenient, but you’ll still get the same benefits, potentially with fewer side effects.
On average, Americans and other citizens of Western countries only average about 15 grams per day. However, the amount of fiber recommended by the American Heart Association is double that amount, suggesting that an appropriate dose might be 10-15 grams per day.
Indeed, in a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on using fiber supplements to reduce hypertension (and hopefully the incidence of cardiovascular disease), the average fiber supplement dose across 24 different studies was 11.5 grams of fiber supplement per day (23).
Some studies used lower doses, while others used a higher doses. Notably, the results of this same meta-analysis suggested that this dosage was an effective way to reduce blood pressure, so it provides strong evidence that doses around ten grams of fiber per day are a good place to start if you want to reap the long-term health benefits of fiber supplementation.
Studies on constipation have used slightly lower doses (closer to six grams per day), but given the benefits of higher doses of fiber, if you aren’t getting the constipation relief you want at six grams per day, ramping up to ten or more grams per day is a fine strategy.
One important thing to note is that these dosages refer specifically to the fiber dosage, not the overall amount of powder. Fiber supplements are not 100% fiber by weight, so make sure you check the nutrition label to get accurate dosing information.
Q:Can fiber help with weight loss?
A: Yes, there’s good evidence that fiber helps with weight loss. It’s an effective appetite suppressant, meaning that it stimulates your body’s satiety response, indicating that you’ve gotten your fill of food and making you less inclined to eat more.
People who eat more fiber are less likely to overeat and gain weight, and moreover, fiber is an excellent way to fight some of the biggest negative health effects of being overweight: the increased risk for cardiovascular disease and the increased risk for type two diabetes (24).
While they aren’t the most high-tech supplement for weight loss, they are effective and have an excellent safety profile. If your diet isn’t already high in fiber, you should definitely add a fiber supplement if you are looking to lose weight.
Q: Can fiber help with diarrhea?
A: Dietary fiber is a popular way to “consolidate” stool, because it provides bulk in your digestive tract. A lot of research has been focused on using supplemental fiber to improve diarrhea in people in hospitals, and much of it supports the use of fiber for this purpose (24).
Fiber helps restore healthy populations of gut bacteria, which in turn improves the mucous lining of the intestines. Both of these changes are favorable from the perspective of reducing diarrhea, though it’s important to address whatever underlying cause (dietary or otherwise) that is resulting in diarrhea.
Q: Is fiber supplementation important if you are on a keto diet?
A: The necessity of taking a fiber supplement on a keto diet depends entirely on what foods you are eating to stay in ketosis.
If your keto diet is high in fibrous foods like kale and spinach, you’re probably fine without a fiber supplement. But if you rely on foods like bacon, chicken, cheese, and coconut oil, you should consider a fiber supplement—these foods, while keto-friendly, don’t have much in the way of fiber content.
Fortunately, a fiber supplement isn’t going to affect your ability to stay in ketosis, because your body can’t derive any calories from fiber.
Q: When should you take a fiber supplement?
A: The timing on when to take a fiber supplement depends to some extent on what you’re trying to get out of taking a fiber supplement.
If you are taking a fiber supplement to deal with constipation, for example, it’s common to take your fiber supplement in one dose, right before bed.
This can help with having a regular bowel movement every morning. On the other hand, if your goal is to take fiber to help with weight loss, it’s better to take fiber in the mid-morning or early afternoon.
That way, you can leverage the appetite suppressant effects of fiber to help reduce your food intake at lunch or dinner. Taking a fiber supplement at night won’t help much, because you wouldn’t be eating at night anyways.
Q: Can fiber supplements help with constipation?
A: Yes, one of the core applications of taking a fiber supplement is for reducing constipation. Research supports using between six and eleven grams of fiber in the form of a supplement to reduce the symptoms of constipation.
Fiber can take up to a few days to start working, as it needs time to build up bulk in your digestive tract, but it is safe and does not induce reliance like some other anti-constipation supplements, making it a very good first option for constipation.
Q: What foods are highest in fiber?
A: When it comes to fiber, healthy foods are almost exclusively rich in fiber: leafy greens like broccoli, artichokes, spinach, and kale are all excellent sources of fiber, as are legumes (i.e. beans and lentils) as well as nuts like almonds.
As healthy as these foods are, most people on a Western diet don’t get enough of them to fulfil their dietary fiber needs. In fact, the average American gets less than half the recommended amount of fiber per day.
Q: What does fiber do in the body?
A: Fiber plays a critical role in your digestive tract. First off, it provides bulk, meaning it helps your body maintain regular and healthy bowel movements.
These are why fiber supplements are useful for both constipation and diarrhea. The bulking effects of fiber also generate a feeling of satiety, which is why fiber acts as an appetite suppressant. Perhaps even more importantly, though, fiber helps the probiotic bacteria in your gut flourish. While your body can’t digest or extract energy from fiber, probiotic bacteria can.
Even though the action of fiber is confined to your digestive tract, the fact that probiotic bacteria affect everything from your neurotransmitters to your systemic inflammation highlights the important role that fiber can play in regulating your overall health (and explains why fiber has such powerful effects on reducing your risk of developing chronic conditions like type two diabetes and heart disease).
Q: What fruits are high in fiber?
A: Most staple fruits have fairly high fiber content: bananas, apples, oranges, and strawberries are all fairly high in fiber, and raspberries and blueberries are particularly notable for their fiber content.
Tropical fruits like mangoes are also known for being rich in fiber. Both fruits and vegetables are beneficial beyond their fiber content; they have potent antioxidants that are known to reduce the risk for chronic diseases like heart conditions and cancer.
Q: How much fiber should you get per day?
A: In terms of overall fiber consumption, the recommended amount is 25 grams of fiber per day in your diet, according to the American Heart Association (26). Some other health experts recommend at least 30 grams per day, and as with many other nutrients, exceeding the bare minimum is a good thing.
If you are supplementing your normal dietary intake with fiber, make sure that you are checking the nutrition label – 10 grams of a fiber supplement won’t necessarily contain 10 grams of fiber, since not all of the material in, say, psyllium husk is actually fiber.
Fiber feeds friendly bacteria in the gut that help keep everything functioning smoothly as digestion processes take place.
While this may be part of the reason why eating a high-fiber diet appears to be a healthy choice, many other factors are involved. It may take many years and numerous studies to ferret out the particulars.
Whatever the details, it looks like a smart bet to keep those high-fiber foods on your plate or take a fiber supplement.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 fiber recommendation, click here.