If you want to improve your health and fitness results, make sure your digestive system is functioning properly. Just because you’re swallowing more protein and other supplements, doesn’t mean you’re absorbing it. You could be wasting money on nutritional products that aren’t serving your ultimate purpose of increased health and fitness.
I’m sure you don’t want to waste your time, energy and money on things that aren’t helping you get lean and fit. Unfortunately it happens all too often. Both men and women are swallowing all kinds of nutritional supplements to help improve their fitness results, but they commonly overlook one simple question.
Do you struggle with bloating, gas, reflux, heartburn or other irritable bowel problem?
If you answered yes, there is a very good chance that you are not utilizing and absorbing all the protein or other supplements you are consuming. In other words, you are not going to get the results you expect from your workouts!
It’s not you are what you eat! The more accurate phrase is “you are what your body absorbs.” The fact that your digestive system is inflamed and irritated tells us two important things that could be slowing down your results.
The first thing it tells us is the obvious, which I just mentioned that you’re not fully absorbing all the nutrients you are consuming. This will slow your results, but it also tells us that your digestive system is in need of repair in order to maximize your body’s ability to re-build itself after a good workout.
The second thing it tells us is that all that inflammation going on in your digestive tract could be causing your cortisol and adrenaline levels to remain elevated. The longer those stress hormones stay elevated, the longer it takes before your body starts repairing and rebuilding itself. For maximum results you want to get your body repairing itself as quickly as possible after your workout.
The Repair and Rebuild Phase
The workout is when you tear the muscles down! It is during the rest and recovery phase that your body releases those important growth hormones. Elevated cortisol and adrenaline racing through your body tells it that it is in the fight or flight Mode, not the resting, digesting mode. Your body doesn’t rebuild itself when you are still in that stress mode, which is what exercising does to you.
A good workout will cause your adrenal glands to produce more cortisol and adrenaline. Worrying about finances, relationships, mortgages, etc will also cause your stress hormones to spike, as well as, an irritated and inflamed digestive system.
The name of the game is to get those elevated stress hormones back to normal as quickly as possible after a workout. Your body is unable to distinguish if all the cortisol racing through your body is a result of your workout, mental stress, indigestion or skipping meals. Therefore you need to make sure you are not contributing to that cortisol surge because of all your digestive difficulties.
The most common cause of heartburn, reflux, bloating, gas or indigestion comes from.
- Lack of Digestive Enzymes and Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)
- Stress and Eating on the Go
- Hidden Food Allergies
- Poor Food Combining
Don’t be misled by all the advertisers trying to sell you an antacid or acid blocker. They are probably one of the worst pills you could be taking, but this is not the article to discuss that. The problem typically isn’t too much acid. It is usually the opposite, not enough acid. The symptoms of too much or too little hydrochloric acid (HCL) are very similar.
Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is important for anyone exercising and consuming more protein, because you can’t breakdown and digest protein if you don’t have enough acid. This is one reason why you don’t want to use antacids or acid blocking medications, since it impedes the utilization of all the protein you are consuming.
You produce digestive enzymes and HCL when you are in the resting digesting mode, which means if you are constantly eating your meals on the run, in the car, while you are racing out the door and your stress hormones are elevated which means you’re probably not in the resting digesting mode.
One signal that tells us you don’t produce enough HCL is that you get bloated and gassy shortly after eating, especially a meal with protein. Without adequate levels of HCL, the protein in your meal begins to rot and putrefy in your stomach. It is this putrefied protein that causes all the digestive distress, not too much acid!
Many people complaining of heartburn, reflux and other digestive problems have found great relief using digestive enzymes with HCL. The addition of digestive enzymes with HCL are especially important if you are constantly eating your meals on the go, under stress, while you are still in that ‘fight or flight’ mode, which for a lot of people could be pretty much all day.
Your body won’t produce all the necessary digestive enzymes and acid when you are in that ‘fight or flight’ mode, which is another reason why it’s not too much acid.
Hydrochloric acid (HCL) has many important functions besides breaking down protein. It kills off any unfriendly bacteria, virus, fungus, parasites that may be in your food. It’s important in the utilization of your B-vitamins and minerals, and triggers the release of your alkalizing enzymes. Therefore, antacids or acid blocking drugs truly work against the body’s natural design.
Hidden food allergies are another problem that jumps up as a result of your digestive system in a constant state of irritation and inflammation. They are typically not true allergies, but the fact that your tummy is inflamed makes you hyper-sensitive to certain foods. The offending foods you should stay away from are dairy; which includes milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, cream sauces or soups, wheat, corn, soy, coffee, MSG and artificial sweeteners.
The best advice is to eliminate ALL of the above named foods from your diet for a minimum of two weeks. If you only eliminate one or two of the potential offending foods you might as well not eliminate any of them, because you are not going to truly give your body a chance to recover.
Think of it this way, if you have ten tacks stuck in your bare-foot, is it going to feel any better if you take only one or two out? Probably not! Therefore, if you are not ready to take all of the potentially offending foods from your diet for a couple of weeks, don’t bother.
Again, it’s probably not a true allergy, but because your intestines are inflamed you have created a sensitivity to that offending food. The quicker you calm down your digestive system, and quit irritating it, the better. Don’t think the elimination diet takes all your food away. You still have all the beef, fish, chicken, eggs, fruits, vegetables, lentils, nuts and seeds you can eat. It may not be convenient, or the way you have been eating but it’s only two weeks and if you want to see some changes in your body, you have to make some changes!
As far as food combining goes, some foods combinations are easier to digest than others. Proteins and fats take a few hours to digest, while fruits and simple sugars can digest in less than an hour. This is why combining your meal can be less stressful on your tummy. Remember, if your digestive system is in chaos, you probably want to eat foods that are easier to digest than those hard to digest meals.
Basic Rules of Food Combining:
- Don’t eat protein with starches.
- Proteins are fish, chicken, beef, eggs, protein powders.
- Starches are beans, rice, corn, potatoes, breads, pastas.
- Steak and potato, chicken and rice, and shrimp pasta are tougher meals to digest.
- Combine proteins with fibrous vegetables (broccoli, squash, avocados, zucchini, etc).
- Eat fruit by themselves (don’t mix them with your protein shake).
- Only drink a few ounces (up to six) of liquid with your meal. You don’t want to dilute your digestive juices with 18 ounces of liquid.
- Don’t drink ice cold beverages since the cold temperature shuts down your ability to make HCL. For thousands of years, we didn’t have refrigerators and drank everything at about room temperature.
- Most importantly, take your time to relax and enjoy the meal.
Many patients and clients have noticed real changes in their results once they cleared up their digestive issues. By following these simple suggestions, you could greatly improve both your level of health and fitness. The name of the game is results. If you’re not getting them and you are struggling with digestive issues, you need to make some changes in your diet, supplement plan and or the way you eat in order to get the results you are working so hard in the gym for.