Food and fitness are linked very strongly together. If you are into fitness, regardless of how long you have been working out or how intensely you go about your workouts, you have goals. Your specific goals have food and diet guidelines. These guidelines help you attain your goals in safe, effective and quick ways. In other words, if you aren’t watching the foods in your diet or eating the right types of food, much of the work you are putting in at the gym or at home is going to waste. The food you eat and the protein you consume, whether it comes from just your food or in scoop form, is the power source for your workouts.

For instance, if you are trying to add muscle to your body and bulk up, you can lift weights all day, but you have to be sure to eat foods with enough healthy calories, nutrients and protein to allow your muscles to grow. Similarly, if weight loss is your fitness focus, you have to pay attention to your calorie intake and make sure you have enough of a calorie deficit to be sure you are burning off more than you are eating.

The point is that food plays a large role in your fitness plans. But where does fiber fit in? Fiber and fitness have a strong correlation to helping you meet your goals. It may help to think of the benefits of fiber by first looking at how your body reacts without enough fiber. Constipation is the first noticeable problem. Your body is telling you something when you experience this less-than-stellar adventure. A lack of fiber can also lead to weight gain, impotence and an increase of the likelihood of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. On the other side of the coin, some fiber benefits include, well, the complete opposite of all the negative effects. This should be reason alone to increase your intake of fiber. The daily recommended levels are 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.

For fiber and fitness, increasing your fiber means eating better foods. These foods are exactly what you should be eating to achieve your fitness goals. The fruits, vegetables and whole-wheat pastas and breads are just what the fitness doctor would advise, regardless of your goals. The amounts will be different, but only because the workouts are different.

Maybe you find yourself in a workout plateau, or you plan on starting a workout regimen but you’re unsure of where to start. Starting is the key, but eating the right foods, especially those with enough fiber can give your workouts a huge boost in efficiency.

Fiber doesn’t always taste great, but get creative and sneaky with your intake, and you will be eating plenty. Research which foods have more fiber than others. For instance, sweet potatoes have more fiber than regular potatoes. Wild rice has three times the fiber of regular rice – 3x! Raspberries pack more fiber than strawberries and blueberries. If you are having soup or pasta, find foods like spinach, flaxseed or chickpeas and mix them with the meals. Because the soup and pasta is warm and saucy (in the case of the pasta), these fiber foods will taste way better than if you ate them raw and you will be getting all the fiber you need.