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Bodybuilders go to extraordinary efforts to consume all the calories and protein they need to maximize their weightlifting gains. But they may be overlooking a crucial aspect of consumption: You don’t get the benefits you seek from the foods you swallow; you get the benefits from the foods you absorb into your system. Nutrients that pass through your system without being absorbed literally go to waste.
Here are some supplements you should consider using to help increase absorption and the efficiency of your nutrition program.
Probiotics is the name for the many different types of beneficial bacteria that populate your digestive tract, helping you breakdown and thus better absorb the foods you consume. While you may have plenty of billions of these little bugs in your system, taking a supplement with a few billion more may help you better process a high protein diet.
A recent study showed that taking in 1 billion colony forming units (CFUs) of Bacillus coagulans helped people absorb more amino acids from a protein meal. You can boost the benefits of your protein by taking one dose a day of a probiotic product containing at least 1 billion CFUs with a whole food meal.
Enzymes are themselves a protein that typically exists within your body. But you can gain even better benefits from your nutrition program by supplementing digestive enzymes that help break down the foods you have trouble digesting. In fact, many supplement companies already know this, and they add digestive enzymes to their products. If your protein supplement doesn’t add digestive enzymes, consider adding one to your regimen.
Look for a digestive enzyme product that contains enzymes to breakdown protein (protease enzymes, including trypsin, pepsin, bromelain, papain); carbs (amylase, lactase) and fats (lipase), emphasizing the enzymes that help with the foods you have the most trouble digesting.
For the most part, this is just a more scientific name for fiber, which all bodybuilders should know they need to consume in adequate doses every day (at least 30 grams from whole foods and supplements). You need both soluble and insoluble fibers to help your system digest food at the right rate — not too slow, not too fast.
Supplemental fiber products help with digestion, as do products that have added ingredients such as inulin, which encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria—probiotics. In other words, prebiotics (fiber) lead to greater amounts of probiotics (the bacteria that helps break down your high protein diet).
These are only some of the most important ways you can assist digestion. Also consider adding ginger to calm your stomach, glutamine to promote more efficient and pleasant digestion, and zinc carnosine, a compound that helps your body quickly repair your intestinal mucosa, which is damaged by every meal you eat.