What Is The Best Time To Take Your Fiber Supplements?

Written by Krista Bugden
Medically Reviewed by Felicia Newell, RD

December 5, 2023

Fiber supplements are an easy way to achieve your daily fiber intake—something that 95% of Americans need help doing. However, it’s not just the question of how much fiber you need each day; it’s when you should take it, too. Whether it’s with or without food—or in the morning or evening—the timing of your fiber supplement intake can significantly influence its effectiveness.

Let’s take a closer look at fiber supplements, their benefits, considerations for timing, and expert tips. Keep reading to learn more.

Understanding Fiber Supplements

Only about 5% of the general population eats enough fiber. This means most of us aren’t getting enough of it. Yet, fiber is an essential piece in preventing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, certain types of cancers, and more (1).

Kelsey Costa, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant for the National Coalition on Healthcare, says, “The physical reaction of fiber in the small intestine contributes significantly to metabolic health improvements like lower cholesterol levels and better blood sugar control. These positive effects are a function of the viscosity of gel-forming fibers such as psyllium and β-glucan.”

She adds, “In the large intestine, fiber can induce a laxative effect if it resists fermentation and remains undigested through the large intestine and if it also enhances the water content percentage to normalize (soften or bulk up) the stool—wheat bran and psyllium are examples of this kind of fiber. Some fibers, like the non-fermented, gel-forming fiber psyllium, have both metabolic and stool-normalizing benefits.”

However, if you’re struggling to eat enough fiber in your daily diet—about 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men—supplements might help (2). 

Fiber supplements come in powder, pill, and capsule form, making them an easy addition to most lifestyles. In particular, powder can easily be added to drinks and smoothies.

Overall, fiber supplements offer a practical solution to ensure adequate fiber intake, especially if you struggle to get enough through diet alone. Those with dietary restrictions, specific lifestyle choices, or specific health conditions that limit the intake of fiber-rich foods may benefit from a supplement.

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What Are the Health Benefits of Supplementing With Fiber?

Fiber may seem underrated, but it comes with ample health benefits. Here are five in particular…

1. Improves Digestive Health

There’s a reason why fiber is referred to as "nature's scrub brush.” It increases the bulk and softness of stool, which allows waste to move more smoothly and effectively through the digestive tract. This extra support from fiber aids in colon cleansing and reduces the likelihood of uncomfortable digestive issues like constipation (3).

Fiber also serves as a prebiotic, providing food for beneficial gut bacteria (4). This support helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome, resulting in a more robust immune system and better mood (5).

2. Supports a Healthy Weight

There are a few reasons why fiber helps promote weight loss:

  • Fiber increases feelings of fullness (6).
  • Most high-fiber foods are low in calories (7).
  • Fiber helps to stabilize blood sugars which can help to manage cravings (8).

These reasons combined can help reduce one’s daily caloric intake, making fiber a safe option for those wanting to lose weight.

3. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels

As previously mentioned, fiber is well-known for regulating blood sugar levels. This is mainly due to the gel-like consistency of soluble fiber when in the small intestine. This slows down glucose absorption, preventing blood sugar spikes and dips (9).

However, this isn’t the only mechanism involved in fiber’s regulation of blood sugar levels. Fiber interacts with the gut bacteria, producing short-chain fatty acids, which may improve glucose levels in those with metabolic dysfunctions (10).

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4. Supports Heart Health

Research suggests that increasing fiber intake can help lower blood cholesterol levels. This reduction in cholesterol may lead to a decreased risk of heart disease (11). 

On top of this, adequate fiber intake may reduce systemic inflammation, which is linked to the development of cardiovascular disease (12, 13).

5. Aids in Detoxification

Remember how we said that fiber is “nature’s scrub brush?” By promoting regular bowel movements, fiber supports the elimination of toxins and waste from the body. In turn, this contributes to a healthier digestive system and may take some stress off of the liver and other detoxification organs, improving overall health and wellness.

Factors to Consider When Timing Your Fiber Supplementation

Various factors should be considered when taking fiber supplements, such as mealtimes, interactions with other medications or supplements, and personal preferences or lifestyle factors. Here are three scenarios to consider:

  • Taking fiber with a meal: Supports digestion and minimizes the likelihood of gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Taking fiber in between meals: Helps prevent interference with the absorption of nutrients from food.
  • Taking fiber with other supplements/medications: May slow the absorption of these supplements or medications in the digestive tract, including the colon. (For this reason, it may be beneficial to take medications a couple of hours before fiber supplementation.)

That said, the timing of fiber supplementation depends on your lifestyle, existing medications, and personal preferences. In the next section, we’ll explore what it looks like to take a fiber supplement in the morning, during meals, and before bed.

So When Is the Best Time to Take Fiber Supplements?

Figuring out when to take fiber supplements is essential to ensure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet consistently. So, here’s a closer look at the different timings. From there, you can choose what’s best for you.

In the Morning

Taking fiber supplements in the morning can help regulate bowel movements throughout the day and may aid in appetite control, potentially leading to better food choices. 

However, for some, taking fiber on an empty stomach can cause mild gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating or gas. As aforementioned, if taken too close to other morning medications, it might interfere with their absorption as well. If you tend to have digestive issues or take medications in the morning, these are factors that you’ll definitely want to consider when planning your fiber supplement timing.

During Meals

Incorporating fiber supplements alongside meals can help slow digestion, leading to a more gradual absorption of nutrients and sugars. This can be particularly beneficial for blood sugar management and weight loss strategies. 

This timing also minimizes the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort since the fiber will be mixed with other foods in the digestive system.

Before Bed

Taking fiber supplements before bed can support overnight digestion and lead to a more regulated bowel movement in the morning. 

However, this might cause discomfort or disrupt sleep for some individuals. Additionally, if fiber supplements are taken with nighttime medications, considerations should be made regarding their interactions and absorption.

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How Much Fiber Should I be Getting Each Day?

This may be the most important question of all (since a staggering 95% of Americans don’t get enough fiber). Getting this dosage right will make your bowel movements more regular, your blood sugar more stable, and a healthy weight easier to maintain.

Determining your daily dose of fiber depends on your age and gender. See the chart below to see where you fit in (14):

Age
Grams of Fiber Per Day
Children (Aged 1-18 years old)
14-31 grams per day
Women (Under 50 years old)
25-28 grams per day
Men (Under 50 years old)
31-34 grams per day
Women (51 years and older)
22 grams per day
Men (51 years and older)
28 grams per day

Expert Tips for Timing Fiber Supplements Effectively

It’s important to note that if you’re not currently eating enough fiber, it’s best to increase your fiber intake or supplementation slowly. This can help prevent gastrointestinal distress. It can take your body time to adjust to an increase in fiber intake, so you may experience minor gas and bloating. If this does occur, it should settle after a week or two. Increasing intake slowly, or trying other strategies, such as consuming with meals, can also help reduce any potential discomfort.

Costa says, “While fiber supplements can provide some health benefits, they should not be considered a replacement for the robust nutritional profile of whole foods, which offer a variety of fibers, vitamins, and minerals. Ultimately, to guarantee a broad spectrum of fiber types, essential nutrients, and phytochemicals, it is more advantageous to derive dietary fiber from a varied selection of natural foods rather than relying on supplements.” 

Water is also crucial when taking fiber supplementation. Costa elaborates, “Consuming sufficient water is a crucial yet often overlooked component when taking fiber supplements. As fiber works by absorbing water in the intestines, increasing your water intake is essential to prevent potential issues such as constipation or dehydration. Drinking more water will facilitate the smooth functioning of fiber and contribute to your overall hydration levels, promoting better health and wellness.”

Everyone responds differently to fiber supplementation, so listening to your body and determining the best timing for you is crucial. If you have regular bowel movements, no increase in gas or bloating, and generally feel good, you’ve found your sweet spot.

Lastly, it may be worthwhile to discuss your options with your doctor or dietitian, who will know your health history and situation best. They can guide you on whether or not fiber supplementation is right for you at this time.

Krista Bugden
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Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden is a freelance writer with a BS in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. She spent 5 years working as a kinesiologist, giving her the first-hand experience she needed to write well-researched, scientific, and informative blogs.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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