The Downside of Fiber One

We all know fiber is important. We know it improves digestion, eases constipation, helps prevent heart disease and cancer, regulates blood sugars, contributes to feelings of satiety, provides food for our beneficial gut bacteria and helps manage our weight. In fact, we could go on and on about all the amazing benefits of a high fiber diet.

So what’s our issue with Fiber One products? Considering that daily fiber goals should be in the 25-40 gram range, what could be so bad about a cereal that provides 14 grams of fiber in a single serving?

Here is a wonderful opportunity to go behind the scenes of a brilliant marketing campaign, and one that can ultimately  WORSEN your health, not improve it. We call this tactic misFEEDing.

Let’s take a peek beyond the nutrition claims on the front of the box (57% of your daily fiber! Whole grain as the first ingredient! 60% less sugar! 10 grams of protein!). At first glance, these claims seem pretty terrific. Less sugar, lots of fiber, more protein. But at what cost?

A closer look brings us to the Ingredients List, where we find the following:

  • “Low sugar” products, such as the Original Fiber One cereal contain: Splenda, a potentially harmful artificial sweetener.
  • “High protein” cereals/bars, such as their Protein Sweetened Granola, contain: sugar, barley malt, corn syrup, fructose and molasses, all just various names for processed sugar. End result? This cereal has 16 (yes 16!) grams of sugar per serving. That is the equivalent of 4 teaspoons. Plus the protein source is from soy protein isolate, a processed form of soy that is made from GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). 
  • Lo-calorie snack bars, such as the 90 calorie Chocolate Peanut Butter  contain: glycerin, invert sugar, brown sugar and fructose. This little tiny bar has 9 grams of sugar (that’s just over 2 teaspoons) of added sugar, and nothing beneficial to speak of.
  • Most products contain: maltodextrin, polydextrose, inulin, and cellulose. Otherwise known as functional fibers, they are non-digestible carbohydrates that are isolated from foods and then added to products to up their fiber content.
    These pop up in the ingredient lists of various processed foods, such as breads, yogurt, and even ice cream. They are different from dietary fibers, which occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and whole grains. Technically not “bad” in and of themselves, but by upping fiber contents of processed foods, they can make an unhealthy food appear healthy by virtue of a high fiber content.

We could go through almost every Fiber One product and point out the unhealthy ingredients and the list would go on and on. Chemicals, preservatives and food dyes are abundant and add to the list of refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.

With that in mind, here are some take-a-way lessons:

  1. Don’t believe everything you read on the box. Go to the Ingredients List to get the REAL scoop on what’s in your food.
  2. Low calorie is NOT usually better. When food companies promote low calorie, their products inevitably contain artificial sweeteners and other processed ingredients. Read HERE and HERE about the downfalls of consuming artificial sweeteners.
  3. Get your fiber from REAL food. A serving of Fiber One cereal may offer 14 grams of fiber. But this fiber source, stripped from real food (aka functional fiber), will be devoid of ANY of the amazing health benefits that comes along with eating real foods. An equal amount of fiber from whole food sources such as avocados, broccoli, apples, lentils, whole grain oats, walnuts or ground flaxseeds provide potassium, monounsaturated heart healthy fat, folate, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and B complex, and a host of antioxidants.

We know it’s tempting to take short cuts and purchase products that are convenient and seemingly healthy. But please be savvy when reading labels. Remember that simple short cuts can actually have long-term affects on your health.

If you need help making healthy food choices, we can help! A great first step is to check out our private Facebook group Nutrition and Lifestyle Hacks for Women over 50.

Now let’s hear from you? Where do you get most of your fiber from? Has our post inspired you to look a little more closely at your food labels? Share your thoughts with us!

stephanie goodman and jane schwartz


Jane and Stephanie, creators of The Simply Nourished Solution™, are nutritionists who help women over 50 go from overweight, frustrated, and inflamed to lighter and healthier so they can be more active, feel good in their bodies, and live the second half of life with energy and confidence. Their 3-pronged approach, which can fit into any lifestyle, encompasses not only wholesome energizing foods but powerful habit and mindset shifts.


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