Corn Fiber – How Food Companies Overstuff Fiber Into Keto Products
People have been doing the low-carb thing
(and bragging about it on the internet) for
a long time.
So when the ketogenic diet became a thing
in recent years, the market responded by offering
a bunch of products that claimed they had
the same thing: low net carbs.
One of the ways food scientist can do that
is by using carbohydrates in the form of fiber,
a nutrient that doesn’t get digested by
your body, so it doesn’t count towards calories.
It also makes for some healthy poops – so
But how do you stuff that much fiber, sometimes
the same amount as multiple servings of fruits
and veggies, into such small products?
And more importantly, what does it do in our
Okay, big picture: fiber /is/ good for you.
It has all kinds of health benefits and it
usually comes from fruits and veggies, so
overall it gets a thumbs up from nutrition
But what makes fiber so unique is how it isn’t
digested by the body – since you can’t metabolize
it, it doesn’t count towards net carbohydrates.
And with so many people looking for low carb
options, food scientists got to work.
At first, companies used foods like dates
or figs to bind the bar together, which added
You could get 4 or 5 grams of fiber in a 50
gram bar, which is reasonable.
It’s what you’d expect if you ate the
As the demand for low carb snacks grew, companies
started using IMO’s, or isomaltooligosaccharides
which brought the net carbs down but tastes
like chalk and urine.
That was popular in the industry for a while,
but consumers wanted something that tasted
like, good for a change, so food scientists
cooked up soluble corn fiber or SCF.
It was a good move – the products started
getting better textures and finally didn’t
taste like licking the inside of a gas station
But you’ll notice that products that use
SCF have /a lot/ of fiber in them.
Like, 17 grams in a single bar.
That’s a lot.
But it /does/ have some of the same benefits
as traditional fiber.
A handful of animal and human studies saw
that corn fiber had a good glucose and insulin
response, which is good news for diabetics,
especially if this ingredient was gonna be
used in low sugar foods.
And in multiple studies, corn fiber had a
lower glycemic response than straight glucose
– it was a slow bump in blood sugar instead
of a big spike.
SCF helps with digestive health as well.
In the few randomized clinical trials that
have been performed, participants who supplemented
about 20 grams of corn fiber a day /did/ have
For the kids watching this, mark my words:
there will be a time in your life when the
quality of your poops make the biggest difference
in how your day is going.
I’m not kidding.
But while its effects on glucose and poops
are similar to traditional fiber, how soluble
corn fiber /works/ in the body isn’t quite
After passing through the small intestine,
SCF is fermented by your microbiome – the
bacteria living in your large intestine.
They turn the substance into energy for themselves
and leave behind some short chain fatty acids
like butyrate which have their own health
And according to a study in 2012 study, SCF
actually can help increase the amount of helpful
bacteria in your gut.
So not only is it a fiber supplement, but
also a potential prebiotic.
And none of that is a bad thing.
But still, I’m not totally sold.
Where’s the drawback?
Why aren’t we all supplementing soluble
corn fiber food products?
The answer is exactly that.
It’s a food product, not ya know, food.
One of fiber’s big benefits is that it helps
you feel full for longer, so researchers from
the University of Minnesota put it to the
In their study, they got twenty hungry college
kids and gave them either a regular muffin,
or a muffin with 25 grams of fiber – an entire
day’s recommended value.
It’s a lot.
The subjects reported no difference in their
level of fullness when comparing the types
And that’s not really surprising.
Not because of some unique thing about soluble
corn fiber, but because of the idea of being
You need to eat a big, filling salad to get
25 grams of fiber.
By sheer volume alone, you’re gonna be full
But to get the same amount of fiber from soluble
corn fiber, you’re nibbling on maybe a protein
bar and a half.
It might not be the low carb trend that dieters
are after, but it’s way tastier.
So for bulkier poops and low glycemic index,
this stuff checks out.
But remember, there are still so many more
benefits from food-sourced fiber that those,
benefits that we haven’t studied yet with
soluble corn fiber.
So for now, I’m still sticking with salad.
That does it for this video.
If you learned something today, I really appreciate
it if you like the video and subscribe.
And if you’ve got someone in your life doing
the low carb thing, share this video with
Otherwise, have fun, be good.
See you next time.