Improving your gut health can have a positive impact on your ability to increase muscle mass.
Many of us are becoming increasingly aware that our gut microbes play a crucial role in regulating our metabolism, immunity, mental health and other bodily functions.
Negative changes in gut microbes have also been associated with obesity, liver disease, diabetes, cancer and neurological conditions that damage brain tissue, according to Medical News Today.
But what about the fitness industry and gut health? The conventional attitude in the fitness industry is that we must follow a diet high in carbohydrates and protein in order to build muscle. There is a high emphasis on meal planning too, which is good, but also detrimental to our gut health if we are always eating the same foods again and again.
So how can better gut health improve our muscle gains?
- Higher Nutrient Absorption
“Accumulating evidence suggests that the gut microbiota plays an important role in the harvest, storage, and expenditure of energy obtained from the diet” according to a report on the Effects of Gut Microbes on Nutrient Absorption and Energy Regulation.
Here’s how – to improve your gut health, it is important to increase the variety of foods you eat. This is because different types of good bacteria prefer different foods. If we eat different types of foods regularly i.e. bananas, apples, grapes, peaches and mangoes, as opposed to just a banana everyday, we are increasing our chances of having a higher variety of good bacteria living in our gut.
What is the benefit of this for our muscle gains?
The higher the variety of good bacteria in your gut, the better your ability will be to absorb more nutrients from the foods that you eat. Put in simple terms, the better your gut health, the more nutrients your body can actually absorb and use for muscle gains from all the foods you consume.
For example, Person A has amazing gut health because she eats a variety of wholefoods, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains each day, and her lifestyle is relatively stress-free. Person B has a stressful lifestyle, eats a high level of processed foods and the same ready meals when he has time, and he drinks alcohol regularly.
If person A were to eat a nutritious smoothie containing 20g protein and many vitamins and minerals from the fruits in it, her body would be more likely to absorb a higher amount of the nutrients in the smoothie than person B. This is because person A is more likely to have a more diverse microbiome, leading to better digestion and an increased ability to take in the nutrients from the foods she eats.
- Higher Energy Levels
A healthier gut is directly associated with better and more regulated moods. This is because 90% of serotonin (our feel-good hormone) is actually produced in the gut.
Therefore, if we look after our gut health, we are less likely to suffer from symptoms of anxiety and depression.
When it comes to fitness and lean muscle gains, if we have better gut health, our bodies are likely to produce more serotonin and therefore our energy levels should naturally be higher. This means more energy for workouts. If we have more energy for our workouts, we are more likely to be able to sustain a consistent workout regime, which we know is key for gains.
If we have more energy we are also more likely to enjoy our workouts, which will lead decrease the chances of us getting sick, tired and bored of our workouts and giving up! It is all inter-linked.
- You will be leaner!
You might be asking, how can better gut health actually make me leaner?
“There is a direct relationship between the microbiome and genetic expression, or how genes are coded for fat deposits,” according to Raphael Kellman, managing director and founder of the Kellman Center for Integrative and Functional Medicine in New York and author of The Microbiome Diet.
Kellman says that when we eat highly processed foods or foods high in sugar, starch, and unhealthy fats, our bodies usually react with high levels of inflammation that can encourage the growth of certain ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut. “This bacteria can overwhelm the “good” bacteria and trigger an overproduction of insulin, which will cue your body to stop burning fat and start storing it.”
What kinds of high sugar and unnatural foods are we talking about here?
Well, many protein shakes available on the mainstream UK and US markets are high in sugar and/or contain an array of artificial colours, flavourings and sweeteners.
They may be high in protein, but it’s really about time we start looking and what else these ingredients are doing to our bodies. If high sugar and unnatural / processed foods and supplements are detrimental for our gut health and a cause of inflammation, we should be looking for more natural substitutes. This is why SB nutrition has come up with a completely natural, vegan and heavy-metal tested protein powder. It is the first protein powder to be made with your gut health in mind.
Whether we are athletes, weight-lifters or simply gym goers, we need to prioritise a diet which is high in fibre and healthy fats, which can reset our metabolism and reverse any inflammation. High fibre diets are so beneficial for our gut health because the bacteria in our guts feed on high-fibre (prebiotic) foods.
- Reduced Cravings
This is a really interesting one. The bacteria living in our gut actually have power over what we feel like eating, according to a study in the journal, BioEssays.
It’s a little like a vicious circle – if we eat a lot of processed junk foods, low-fibre diets, drink alcohol excessively and have little sleep and high stress, we encourage an overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria in our gut. In turn, the ‘bad’ bacteria living inside you might have you craving the junk foods even more, making them harder to resist. This can really have a negative impact on your progress when working out.
On the flip side, if we promote a growth of good bacteria by eating lots of high-fibre foods, probiotics foods and wholefoods with a clean and natural diet, that good bacteria can reduce your cravings for junk food. This can all have an impact on your health in quite a short period of time.
When taking this advice into consideration, it’s important to remember consistency and marginal gains. We don’t reap the benefits of many things if we are not consistent and if we expect one change to lead to a lifetime of benefits. Every little change we make is a marginal gain, and all these marginal gains lead to a big change in the way we feel and the way that we look. It all comes down to a lifestyle change – there is no quick fix.
It is much easier to stay focused on your goals if you are not obsessed with results. Focusing too much on the end result can leave you feeling disappointed and like a failure if you don’t see the results quickly. That is why we must learn to enjoy the process of what we are doing. Learn to enjoy new foods you are eating, or new lifestyle changes you are making. It is all a process and over a period of time, you won’t regret making positive changes.
SB nutrition is here to support you every step of the way. We believe that a natural diet can help you to feel confident both on the outside and the inside. We are not just a brand, we are a supportive community here with you every step of the way. Visit our website here.
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