Whether you’re looking to make big gains or preparing to cut and expose the muscle you’ve worked so hard to build, your gut health has a big impact on your progress in the gym. Read on to discover the link between gut health and body building.
Why is good gut health important?
In simplest terms, gut health refers to the balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Your gut is much more than a temporary storage space for your last meal—it’s where microbes and bacteria work together to absorb the nutrients you’ve consumed. A healthy gut helps boost your immune system, reduce inflammation and even balance your mood, but it also helps you make the most of all the work you’ve been doing in the gym.
So, why should body builders pay particular attention to their gut health?
For starters, you’ll be leaner
The bacteria in your gut not only affects the way your body absorbs nutrients from the foods you eat, but they also play a role in determining the amount of calories and energy that enter your body. Enjoying a cheat day? When you consume highly processed foods or those with excessive sugar, starch or unhealthy fats, your body reacts with inflammation that can encourage the growth of bad bacteria in the gut.
When bad bacteria overwhelm the good, it can cause you to produce too much insulin, signaling to your body that it’s time to stop burning fat and start storing it. Avoiding unhealthy foods will reduce inflammation, reset your metabolism and get the bacteria in your gut back to a healthy balance, helping you build lean muscle without excess fat.
You’ll also reduce excessive cravings
The bacteria in your gut even influences the foods you’re craving. While research is ongoing, studies have shown that microbes manipulate your eating behavior and cause cravings for specific foods that typically aren’t good for you. In other words, an excess of unhealthy bacteria may have you reaching for a cheeseburger and fries rather than a healthy salad.
Whether you’re bulking or cutting, choosing healthier choices will keep your progress on track and help you build and maintain muscle, rather than pack on pounds of unhealthy fat.
You’ll maintain a healthy immune system
In addition to its role in digesting food, a healthy gut also works to keep your immune system strong. Surprisingly, more than 80% of your body’s immune system directly surrounds the gut, which means that damage to the thin cell walls of the intestines can wreak havoc on your overall health.
Research shows that most autoimmune problems start in the gut. Moreover, since bacteria, viruses and other toxins are commonly found in food, you need to maintain a healthy gut to ward off infections not just from the environment, but from food, as well.
As a body builder—novice or pro—you need to keep your immune system functioning to stay on track in the gym. Missing even a few days can have lasting impacts on your progress—studies show it only takes two weeks of skipped workouts to lose significant muscle strength. Keep your immune system healthy and keep making those gains in the gym.
How can body builders promote good gut health?
There are several ways to keep your gut healthy, helping you build muscle and burn fat. Promote good gut health while body building by:
- Lowering your stress levels. Chronic stress is hard on your gut. Lower your stress levels by pursuing activities you enjoy, and make sure to get at least 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to keep stress in check.
- Eat healthy. As a body builder, you probably pay close attention to what you’re eating. Nevertheless, continue to resist unhealthy, processed foods and avoid sugar-free foods since artificial sweeteners cause bloating and inflammation.
- Take a probiotic. Adding a probiotic supplement to your diet is an excellent way to boost your gut health. Make sure to choose a high-quality supplement that will provide benefit and keep bacteria levels balanced.
Body builders need to maintain a healthy gut
Your gut is a mighty organ that promotes your overall health and well-being, but it also plays a leading role in weight control. If you want to boost your progress in the gym, apply the strategies above to keep your gut healthy—it’s an important piece of the puzzle to a leaner, fitter body. You’ll put yourself on track to a bigger, more defined physique and physiological processes that are equipped to sustain it.