There’s two ways we can do this:
- Eating a very nutrient-dense diet
- Targeted supplementation
But wait, Sven, what on earth does all this have to do with me building more muscle? Alright, before I get into the two points above, let me briefly explain.
First of all, I am an advocate of looking and feeling amazing at the same time. Why look good if you feel like a bag of crap on the inside? Why only look good in your 20s, if you can look good well into your 40s, 50s and beyond? Why sacrifice longterm health by eating bad and treating your body bad if you can live disease-free and healthy for the rest of your life?
The bottom line: Don’t think short term, think longterm and how the right food and lifestyle choices now will allow you to have good looks and feel healthy 40 years down the road.
So that’s the first reason you’d want to consider optimizing your nutrition.
Then there’s the other question you are perhaps more interested in: Why would nutrient deficiencies kill my gains?
It’s an easy answer, really. In order to build muscle, the body needs the right building blocks to make it happen. Amino acids, minerals, vitamins and essential fatty acids all play a part in this. Heck, if that weren’t true, why would we even eat food? It’s got to have some sort of function in the body, other than filling us up and making us feel good, right?
Inadequate nutrition results in some deficiency somewhere. The result could be any of these examples:
- From one week to the next, you just don’t have the energy to workout anymore
- You wake up tired every morning
- You are suddenly not motivated to workout anymore
- You get brain fog at a certain time each day
- You can’t concentrate properly, no matter what you do
- You keep plateauing, week after week
- You are eating enough and training with intensity but your muscle just won’t grow
- You feel depressed more
The list goes on but you get the point. Lack of energy and focus, motivation, low testosterone, mood swings, plateaus. Those can all sometimes be related to nutrient deficiencies without you even knowing.
In the long run, this is problematic and you will not make the kind of gains you aim for. Period. If you don’t give the body what it requires, it will have to compensate at some point. And that compensation might just be your muscles.
Since I hopefully answered that question, let’s get back to how we can get this nutrient-thing right.
- Eating a Very Nutrient-Dense Diet
That sounds pretty simple, right? Just eat foods that are nutrient-dense, such as fruit and vegetables, for example? That’s a good start, but surprisingly for many, fruit and vegetables in fact don’t belong at the top of that list.
They’ve got some good amounts of various nutrients, especially vitamins – I agree. Still, there are certain foods that outrank fruit and vegetables by more than tenfold.
The best example would be beef liver. Let’s check out a comparison chart real quick:
Now ain’t that fascinating? Depending on what we’re looking at, beef liver outranks apples and carrots by far, sometimes containing 100 times the nutrition of either of those foods. That’s quite the achievement.
When it comes to the nutritional profile, your mum was wrong, after all. She should have told you to eat your beef liver instead of the veggies! Beef liver actually maxes out the daily requirements for certain nutrients (Vitamin B12 and Vitamin A!) in just one serving.
Beef liver is not alone, though. Some other fantastic sources of a wide range of nutrients are pastured eggs, sea vegetables (spirulina, chlorella…), wild-caught alaskan salmon, bone broth, sprouts and green leafy vegetables. I know, I did mention vegetables but they still aren’t the most nutrient-dense.
All those foods contain a plethora of nutrients and you’d be well off incorporating them into your daily diet. Plus, they are really good for feeding your muscles for growth, too, so definitely make use of them.
The best for you to do right now would be to go ahead and download my free Anabolic Shopping List (click here), which contains all the best foods to include in your diet, including the ones I already mentioned. It takes all the guess work out, plus you don’t have to worry about whether a food will be good or bad for you to eat. All the foods on that list are amazing for muscle building and health. Go check it out!
When you start eating for nutrient-density, you’ll start noticing amazing changes in health and recovery between workouts, since you’re only eating anti-inflammatory foods. You’ll get sick way less, have more energy for workouts, get fewer injuries and recover a lot quicker between workouts. Plus, the increase in testosterone will make you feel like a beast.
For me, it’s definitely worth it.
- Targeted Supplementation
Very often, in fact almost always, our diet is not adequate anymore. It just doesn’t provide all of the essential nutrients the body requires on a daily basis. As I mentioned, the soil used for farming is so depleted, most minerals aren’t even present in it anymore. There’s maybe a dozen minerals we still get from our food in mediocre quantities but what about all the other ones? There are 60 essential minerals we need to somehow get from our food since the body can’t make them.
The only real option is to supplement – if you want to live a long, happy and healthy life, that is.
It’s important to supplement cleverly, though. Just simply dumping a bunch of chemicals into your body, without really knowing what they’re there for or why you’re taking them, is not a clever game plan. Targeted supplementation is the way to go.
There’s also quality. Many, if not most of the supplements out there these days simply do not qualify to be put in your body. The quality is horrendous, often doing more harm than good. Ingredients such as nasty fillers, additives, artificial sweeteners, food colourings etc. are included more often than not, with some causing serious trouble in the body.
If we’re gonna take a supplement and spend money on it, we might as well make damn sure it’s doing our body good, right? Otherwise, if you’re not prepared to go for quality, please just stay away from supplementation all together. You are probably doing more harm than good.
So now we know that we need to supplement wisely and go for quality. Plus, the main goal is to refill the body with missing/deficient nutrients or the essential nutrients we probably don’t get enough of on a daily basis.
There are 5 supplements I consider to be essential to achieve optimal health and to build muscle more effectively:
- Trace minerals
- Essential fatty acids
- Essential amino acids
- Digestive enzymes
These 5 supplements cover all the bases and ensure the body gets all the essential nutrients it requires daily. The multivitamin/mineral is pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t go into any further detail on that. The best one I’ve found so far is from BodyHealth, called Complete Multi + Liver Detox. It covers all vitamin/mineral needs and offers additional liver detox support.
The main focus is put on macro-minerals these days. Everyone focuses on magnesium, zinc and calcium. This is a good thing because these nutrients are definitely missing in our diet and play a crucial role in maintaining health, however they are not everything.
What often gets neglected is the role of micro-minerals or trace minerals. Ever heard someone say that, to maintain health, we need to supplement with strontium, titanium, silicon, silver, scandium, rubidium, antimony, lanthanum, yttrium or gallium? I bet not. These trace minerals are only present in really small amounts in the body, however they play a vital role in all kinds of bodily processes.
If we don’t supply our body with a regular dose of these (and we generally don’t), our health starts to go south. You see, we used to derive these minerals from plants we ate, since they’re the only good source apart from mineral-rich salts such as sea and Himalayan salt. But nowadays, plants simply don’t provide adequate (if any) amounts anymore, due to soil depletion.
Also, plants can’t make minerals. They can manufacture vitamins but not minerals. Thus, the soil needs to provide, which it doesn’t.
Not fixing these mineral deficiencies can lead to damage in the long run and may just be the cause of your fatigue, depression, sleep issues etc. In fact, it was a major reason why I plateaued for almost 2 months in a row! After taking trace minerals, I was literally revived and crushed plateau after plateau, week after week.
So, our only real option remains supplementing with a quality trace mineral supplement. The best one I’ve found is called Plant-Sourced Minerals from Natural Vitality.
Essential Fatty Acids
The fish oil craze has been going on for a considerable amount of time now already – to no surprise. For most people, it is one of the only sources of essential fatty acids. Especially the two most important EFAs, called EPA and DHA, are just not present in most people’s diet today. We rarely eat fish, and if we do, it’s usually the farm-raised variety that comes with a host of toxins. Other sources, such as eggs and meat also have to be grass-fed in order to contain a good amount of these fats.
Instead, the modern diet is mostly comprised of omega-6-heavy vegetable oils, such as soybean, canola or sunflower seed oil. That’s a problem since it creates a major omega-3 to omega-6 imbalance. An ideal ratio would be somewhere between 1:1 to 1:5 (Omega 3: Omega 6). Here’s the crazy part: The average person today has a ratio of up to 1:20!
This is so concerning because Omega-6 acts inflammatory in the body. If there’s no balance between the anti-inflammatory and inflammatory essential fatty acids, heavy inflammation occurs. That is what’s happening to most people.
Since eating more wild-caught fish or pastured/grass-fed eggs and meat is not possible for everyone, supplementing with fish oil is essential and an absolute necessity, especially if you’re hitting it hard at the gym, to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
Taking some good, high quality fish oil, such as SuperEssentials Omega from LivingFuel will do the trick.
Essential Amino Acids
You might not believe it when I say it but you might be amino acid deficient, especially in the essential ones. Even if you’re downing tons of protein shakes.
There’s a number of possible explanations for this. For one, you could suffer from low stomach acid, which is a very common phenomena (usually, stomach acid is too low rather than too high, unlike your doctor might tell you), which would lead to protein malabsorption and digestive upsets such as bloating and gas.
Or you could suffer from a shortage of digestive enzymes, in which case you won’t digest the protein you’re so desperate to gulp down, either.
Lastly, it could also be that you don’t produce enough bile, which is essential for proper digestion.
If any or several of those problems exist, you are very possibly amino acid deficient, which turns out to be an issue when trying to build muscle.
You see, I firmly believe that most bodybuilders and amateurs today ingest so much protein because their bodies are so incapable of properly breaking down and utilizing what they’re consuming. So they have to eat enormous amounts just to satisfy their amino acid needs.
Here’s a good scenario. Imagine two young men, both age 25. The one, for some reason, can make use of and absorb 100% of the protein he ingests. The other one only 75%.
A good guideline to stick by when it comes to how much protein you should consume in order to gain muscle is to take your bodyweight (in kg) times 1.5 – 1.7 (in pounds it would be times 0.7 – 0.8).
Both of these men weigh 82 kg (180 pounds). That gives us the following protein needs: 82 x 1.5 – 1.7 = 123 – 139 g (or 180 x 0.7 – 0.8 = 126 – 144).
Now, back to the two men.
The one can use 100% of his ingested protein, the other one 75%.
How much protein would the first guy have to eat in order to meet his nutritional needs? About 130 grams, right?
How much would the second have to eat? Well, he can only absorb 75%, so he would have to eat 175 x 0.75 = 131 g of protein before he meets his nutritional needs. That’s 45g more protein! That’s an entire medium-sized steak right there!
I hope you understand the message here.
Most folks trying to build muscle completely overdo protein, when in reality, it’s completely unnecessary if they had a properly working digestive function! And most everyone doesn’t.
You could say: Well, Sven, why can’t I just eat more? I’m fine with eating more if that’s what it takes.
There’s a number of reasons I don’t recommend eating so much protein.
- It’s much more expensive. Why waste money on an additional two protein shakes if you could get the same effects whilst spending less?
- It’s really hard on the digestive system. When your body has to keep digesting protein, it can’t use the enzymes in other parts of the body to help with healing and repair.
- It’s boring and a drag. I just absolutely hate having to constantly think about when to drink my shake, how much I still have to eat, whether I might turn catabolic by forgetting to drink my shake 2 minutes later than usual and preparing protein shakes the whole time.
- It’s anti-longevity. There’s enough research out there proving that too high protein consumption reduces longevity and I definitely want to live a long, disease-free life.
- It creates too much acid in the body. Once you go way above your protein needs, the rest of the protein is turned into uric acid, a toxic waste product of your body. I don’t see a need to keep it elevated by aggressively pumping useless protein into my body.
I think that should suffice.
So we have a twofold problem here. For one, most people have poor digestive function which results in protein malabsorption. And then, these people tend to eat way too much protein to make up for the missing amino acids the body can’t absorb, which creates the five problems I listed above.
The only unanswered question is: How do we maximize amino acid uptake so that we don’t have to stuff ourselves full of food?
The answer lies in optimizing digestive function for maximum protein breakdown. If we can optimize digestive function to a degree where it can take in the maximum amount of amino acids with as little waste as possible, we have reached our destination.
Unfortunately, there will always be waste products left from the food we ingest. It just cannot be changed. But, there’s a certain upper digestion limit we can reach naturally. I say naturally because there are hacks around maximizing absorption above our bodies natural capabilities, which I’ll discuss further down the article.
But first, and most importantly, we want to optimize what we naturally have. This is how you do it.
Protein gets broken down during digestion (obviously) into amino acids. Every protein source has its own amino acid profile. Meat, fish, pork, beans, sesame seeds, heck even carrots all bring their unique amino acid profile to the table. Some are considered complete sources of protein (meaning they contain all 21 amino acids, including all the essential ones) and some incomplete (such as when one essential amino acid is missing).
Each protein source also has a specific Net Nitrogen Utilization (NNU), which refers to the percentage of amino acids that follow the anabolic pathway (the one you want). You may have heard of the bio-availability of different types of protein foods before, but NNU is a different concept. Where the bio-availability of a protein food (say, milk) refers to the amount of protein from this food source the body can digest fully, NNU talks about the amount of amino acids actually used for Body Protein Synthesis (BPS).
If that sounds too complicated, just consider this: Whey protein and meat both enter the digestive tract. If you look online for the bio-availability of certain types of protein sources, you’ll often see a list from highest to lowest availability. On this list, whey protein is usually cited as the top protein source considering it’s bio-availability of above 100 (eggs where used as the standard and they have a score of 100). Meat, on the other hand, scores a measly 80.
The conclusion most people would draw from this is: Whey protein is superior to meat for muscle building since it is way better absorbed by the body because of its higher bio-availability score.
This assumption is wrong. WRONG. Yet you hear it all the time.
The problem is that yes, whey protein might be very well absorbed by the body and meat not as much, but of the protein that gets absorbed, how much is eventually being used by the body? What percentage of the amino acids are used for Body Protein Synthesis (BPS) and what percentage is wasted as toxic by-products?
That’s where Net Nitrogen Utilization (NNU) comes into play.
NNU considers this variable and gives a score that tells how effective a protein source really is and how much our body can really make use of. The rest is wasted and excreted as toxic waste.
And with NNU in play, whey protein suddenly looks a whole lot uglier than once thought. The NNU of whey protein is a ridiculous 16%. Compare that to meat at around 30% and the odds have suddenly changed. Meat seems to be the superior protein source, after all.
Neither of the two have the highest NNU, though. The highest NNU belongs to eggs, which top the list at 40%. So the ancient bodybuilders of the 20th century where right, after all. 12 raw eggs a day anyone?
As you can see, actual absorption is definitely king.
Note: There is a way you can get close to 100% amino acid utilization in the body, meaning every single gram of amino acids you ingest will end up being used for Body Protein Synthesis (BPS). You’ve probably heard about Branched-Chain Amino Acids before. Well, I’m talking about the big brother of BCAAs. I’m talking about EAAs or simply Essential Amino Acids, which provide all 8 EAAs, which has shown to be way more effective, especially for healing and repair in the body – crucial for recovery after workouts. This is gonna up your game, trust me. So, to find out more about the only way to get as close to 100% amino acid utilization as possible, check this out.
But let’s get back to the initial digestion of the protein source in the gut because there’s still a whole lot that can be said about that. Plus, it also factors into the end goal – maximum amino acid utilization.
If we can’t digest our food properly, we also can’t utilize its building blocks (amino acids) efficiently. This might mean that, theoretically, instead of absorbing 80% of the protein from a beef steak, you’d only be able to absorb 65%.
That makes a huge difference, since right off the bat, you’re already losing 15% of possible muscle building protein (I know, that’s probably not an accurate assumption but you get the point – protein is lost).
To prevent this, we better make sure we got our digestion bulletproof.
The two determining factors in protein digestion are stomach acidity and the amount of proteolytic enzymes present in the gut. The more acidic the gut (usually reaches a low of ph 3.0), the better. But it’s not the stomach acid that digests the protein, it merely acts as an activator of a proteolytic enzyme called pepsinogen, or pepsin. Pepsin then digest the protein and breaks it down into amino acids.
There’s a host of proteolytic enzymes that could be used for protein digestion. Plant enzymes such as bromelain and papain, or trypsin and protease are all part of the proteolytic enzyme family. They are found in food, as well as being naturally present in our body.
Here’s an example of a proteolytic enzyme formula.
So why are we talking about this, Sven? See, the body is in a catch 22 situation. It uses proteolytic enzymes for both repair/healing in the body – but for digestion, as well. So it can really only do either of those two things properly and with overuse, even loses some of its digestive enzymes, depleting the body of its available stores.
In the long-term, that’s problematic for digestion, as well as inflammation throughout the body, since proteolytic enzymes are needed for both.
The result is a sub-optimally functioning body. Digestion, which we really need to maximize for optimized protein absorption, is impaired.
So, let’s find out how to optimize both stomach acidity, as well as digestive enzyme function, shall we?
How to Increase Stomach Acidity
Stomach acid is often misunderstood. People tend to think (after all, doctors told us so) that high stomach acidity is a bad thing. That it’s the cause of things like reflux and GERD.
In fact, without sufficient acidity in the gut, we are screwed. We can’t fight off pathogens, bad bacteria or fungi. We can also not absorb the nutrients from our food properly (for example Vitamin B12). Lastly, we can’t digest protein optimally.
As a result, we feel lethargic, have zero drive to do stuff and tend to get sick more often. Stomach acid is a natural part of the body’s defense mechanism and without it, we couldn’t fight off all sorts of pathogens, bad bacteria and yeast we get exposed to on a daily basis.
Subsequently, antacids are a real nasty thing. They destroy stomach acid and ensure we set ourselves up for all kinds of problems further down the road.
To increase stomach acidity and as a result improve protein digestion, there are a few possible routes to take:
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Apple Cider Vinegar is interesting. It’s not clear why exactly it helps to for digestion, but I assume it slightly decreases the stomach acidity in the stomach, whilst also contributing to the gut flora because of the probiotics in it. Nonetheless, it works.
Take 1 tsp ACV mixed with half a glass of water before each meal. As an interesting side note, you can take the same amount after each meal to get rid off heartburn (yes, a completely safe alternative to antacids!).
- Digestive Bitters
So, digestive bitters basically just signal the body to produce more stomach acid. That, of course, is quite helpful.
You can just take the quite well-known Swedish bitters or use another good digestive bitters brand.
- Himalayan/ Sea Salt
Stomach acid is made up of Hydrogen and Chloride. Salt contains chloride, which makes it important to include in a meal since it provides one essential half of stomach acid’s make-up. As long as you choose to go with Himalayan or sea salt, you needn’t worry about a high salt intake either. These salts contain basically all trace minerals needed in the body, which makes these salts an essential part in our diet since the majority of the population is mineral depleted (because of mineral depletion in soil due to aggressive farming practices). So don’t hold back! Salt until the food tastes good.
- Betaine HCl
Although it shouldn’t be the only method, supplementing with Betaine HCl is a very efficient way to increase stomach acid. You are simply giving your body pure stomach acid, which lowers the pH in the stomach to the required level. If done right, it’s completely safe and doesn’t hurt your stomach by any means.
Still, anyone with stomach ulcers or using medications such as corticosteroids or anti-inflammatories like Advil, Tylenol and other NSAIDS must absolutely NOT take Betaine HCl. It’s going to do more harm than good.
Important: Make sure you choose a Betaine HCl product that also includes Pepsin. The Pepsin is crucial for protein digestion and is activated by HCl, making it a double awesome combo.
Important #2: Supplement the right way. You need to slowly load with Betaine HCl to see where your current limit is. Too much at once and you risk hurting yourself. So, here’s the procedure:
Only take Betaine HCl with a meal containing at least 15 grams of protein (a simple snack like a carrot and apples won’t cut it). Take one tablet right before the meal (the tablet should contain 650 mg of Betaine HCl). Eat and then see how your body responds. If there’s no warming sensation in your stomach, then with your next meal, take two tablets. If that won’t do it either, increase to three. Go all the way up until you feel a warming sensation in your stomach. Once you feel it, back down one tablet. So if you felt it at six tablets, only use five with your meals from then on. With time, your need for Betaine HCl will decrease and you’ll feel the warm feeling with five, then with four, then with three tablets and so on. That shows that your body is increasing its own stomach acid production.
I especially recommend Betaine HCl to bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts or anyone else eating comparatively higher amounts of protein, since it definitely helps with digestion and takes some load off the digestive system.
- Avoid the Sugar
Sugar, especially the processed version, depletes your body of minerals, as it creates an acidic environment. Acidic blood robs your body of minerals and might even take minerals from your bones. Combine that with already low stomach acid and you have a setup for disaster. Since low stomach acid results in mineral malabsorption, a vicious cycle develops. Low stomach acid = low minerals = acidic blood. Sugar amps that whole cycle up, making it worse than it already is. So, drop the sugar and rather follow my Invincible Being Diet Plan by downloading a free copy of the Anabolic Shopping List here.
- Stop Drinking Around Mealtime
It’s quite simple logic, really. When you drink water, soft drinks, juice or anything similar around mealtime (within 30 minutes before/after meals), your stomach acid is diluted, turning it into a weaker acid. Subsequently, digestion is impaired and you won’t maximize your protein digestion potential. So, stop the drinking.
Note: An exception to this are beverages such as coffee, herbal teas and green/black tea, since they help with digestion. So, if you really feel like drinking something, choose those.
How to Optimize Digestive Enzyme Function
As we’ve already learned, digestive enzymes (especially proteolytic enzymes), are needed for both digestion and repair/healing in the body. They’re responsible for two very important systems in our body. As we all know, having to put the same high value focus on two different tasks at once – never works. At some point, the one has to be sacrificed.
Proteolytic enzymes (unfortunately) aren’t much better than we are with this. They can only do one thing – digest or repair. And if they have to choose, proteolytic enzymes will always choose digestion first, leaving no time for healing the body.
The other sad part is how we humans abuse their function and expect them to multi-task, which always fails.
How do we abuse them? Well, with the way we’re eating, we aren’t giving them even the slightest chance of a break digesting food. Here’s how we humans are cruel to our proteolytic enzymes:
- We don’t allow them to have long, recharging breaks
I mean, you’ve heard it all, right? Eat six meals a day, every two hours, otherwise your muscles waste away. That’s the common bodybuilder broscience and surprisingly, a large number of guys still follow this nonsense-advice.
Even if you’re not a bodybuilder, every Pete and their sister will tell you to eat breakfast because it’s the most important meal of the day. So, Pete and Pete’s sister, why are you still fat and tired all day long?
Here’s the problem: We are not giving our digestive system (read: digestive enzymes) a break! And they are screaming for it. They can’t keep up with the food. Eating three to six times a day is absolutely not necessary for muscle growth or for general health and is in fact inferior to less frequent meals.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is the answer. And it’s as simple as finishing dinner at 8:00 pm, then skipping breakfast and waiting until 12:00 – 2:00 pm to eat (seriously, just do it for 2 weeks and your body will stop craving food in the morning – dead simple).
What is IF good for?
- It allows for healing and repair – Simple, when the proteolytic enzymes don’t have to digest food the whole friggin’ time, they can actually for once concentrate on taking care of the body. You will also get sick less often with this approach, meaning less downtime in the gym.
- It increases testosterone – yes it does, and that’s really awesome for us since we need high testosterone in order to effectively build muscle. (Check out my FREE Testosterone Optimization eBook to learn all the latest and greatest tricks to increase testosterone like crazy, naturally)
- It’s a huge time-saver – Shame. The poor guys who still prepare six meals a day of chicken breast and broccoli, neatly packed into a fitting container, so they have everything ready to eat every two hours of their awake time. I just wish I could tell them there’s another way, a way they can easily safe 2 hours a day preparing food and instead enjoy life to its fullest. Sigh…
- It maximizes nutrient absorption – The body is in a primed state to absorb nutrients after prolonged fasting. It is craving food and nutrition and once you provide it, it flippin’ eats up everything.
- It makes you more productive – Finally, you don’t have to constantly think about food all day long and can actually get stuff done. If you’re a lazy guy, you might not want to try this.
Raw vs. Cooked Food
Now that we know why Intermittent Fasting is so damn good for improving just about anything, especially digestive function, let’s look at a few more ways we can improve the efficiency of digestive enzymes.
Apart from the wrong mindset about how often we should eat, what we eat further plays a huge role. I’m talking about cooked versus raw food.
The problem is not that we eat cooked food. Heck, it’s really good for us and we wouldn’t be able to properly access all the vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds in a food without cooking, since the plant’s cell wall needs to be broken down first.
Still, part of our diet should be raw because that comes with it’s own advantages:
- More enzymes – Raw food has the advantage of retaining its enzymes when it enters the mouth. That way, the body isn’t forced to use its own stores as much to break down the food.
- More vibrancy and energy – When you cook a food, it’s basically dead. It’s got no life force left. Raw food actually radiates more energy. These kirlian photos show it well:
Whether this is true or just some woo-woo, I look at how I feel when eating raw food. And I definitely crave a juicy, raw salad after a prolonged period of eating cooked food only. So there’s something to it, for sure.
- It keeps the body more alkaline – Raw foods are king when it comes to their alkaline power (not all, but most). This is especially important when you look at what we eat otherwise on a day to day basis. It’s processed crap, which puts us into a massively acidic state. Thus, changing the diet whilst incorporating more raw foods will help to re-balance your acid-alkaline balance.
So, to take action on this is quite easy. Simply eat one quite large salad a day, consisting of (organic, if possible) tomato, celery, cucumber, romaine lettuce, avocado, pepper, carrots and herbs such as cilantro, oregano etc.
That’s all you need and it will ensure you staying on the right track.
Supplemental Digestive Enzymes
These days, life is tough. Quite often, we just don’t manage to do things the way we planned them or we revert back to comfort.
We eat when stressed out (in the car, watching a movie, fighting with family at the table), we don’t chew our food properly and we don’t focus on what we are actually eating but just gulp it down. All that is problematic for digestive function, especially for optimizing digestive enzyme function.
When we are stressed, we are in fight or flight mode so that the body focuses its energy on everything else but digestion. When we don’t chew properly, our saliva can’t perform its job (breaking down carbohydrates), making it harder for our digestive enzymes in the gut to take care of the job. Abusing this once is fine. Repeated abuse, however, is a crime and after some time, our body just won’t cope anymore.
It’s one of the main reasons we need supplemental assistance in the first place.
Nonetheless, for the occasion that you eat when stressed out (I hope it’s not too often) or if you simply feel like you can’t digest your food well anymore, supplementing with a high quality digestive enzyme is a wise choice.
It’s important to look out for certain standards when choosing digestive enzymes. Here are a few points to consider:
- The supplement should contain a variety of proteolytic enzymes, such as different proteases, papain and bromelain
- The protease potency should be no less than 50.000 IU, with an optimum of 80.000 IU or more per capsule
- It shouldn’t contain fillers, additives or other crap but simply have a vegetable capsule surrounding it
- It should include amylases (carbohydrate enzymes) and lipases (fat enzymes) in high quantities, as well (at least 20,000 DU for amylase and 3000 FIP for lipase)
- It should ensure optimal delivery to the gut, where it can do its magic
Any digestive enzyme of that basic nature will do a pretty good job.
The ones I’ve found to work best and have all the above and more, are either this one or this one. Try them out.
In terms of maximizing amino acid utilization, we’ve covered quite some ground.
What it really comes down to in the end is optimizing your digestive system by focusing on digestive enzyme function and stomach acidity. If you can bulletproof those two things, you are pretty much guaranteed to have a protein-dismantling, amino acid munching gut machine.
Of course, there are other factors that come into play, such as leaky gut, allergies, intolerances etc etc. But those are topics I’ll cover another day and right now, just focus on the two points I made in the article. If you can get those right, it’s a good place to start.
- There are two ways to get all the nutrients the body requires into the body – 1) by eating a nutrient-dense diet and 2) targeted supplementation.
- To maximize nutrient density, the diet should consist of foods from the Anabolic Shopping List, primarily nutrient-dense foods, such as animal products (meat, organ meat, fish, eggs, raw milk, animal fats), fruits and vegetables (primarily berries and green leafy vegetables) and some (soaked/sprouted) nuts and seeds.
- Even the best and most nutrient-dense diet will stay have shortfalls somewhere. Thus, the only other route to take is targeted supplementation.
- The most important supplements to take for both health and optimal muscle building goals are: multivitamin/mineral, trace minerals, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids and digestive enzymes, since these represent the most important building blocks in the diet.
- Lastly, optimizing digestion is important and hugely beneficial for proper protein breakdown and subsequent amino acid utilization. The most important factors to optimize are digestive enzyme function and stomach acidity.
- Methods to increase stomach acidity include apple cider vinegar, Himalayan/ sea salt, avoiding sugar, digestive bitters, supplemental betaine HCl and avoiding to drink water around mealtimes.
- Methods to optimize digestive enzyme function include fasting, incorporating more raw foods into the diet and supplemental digestive enzymes.
There you go. I hope you enjoyed the article. If there’s anything you’d like to add, discuss or complain about, just hit up the comments section and let me know! I’m looking forward to your thoughts.
My question to you: What has been the most helpful tip for you?