Building muscle for any reason requires people to consume more calories. Serious bodybuilders may need to eat thousands of extra calories per day to sustain continued muscle growth. All that extra food can place a huge amount of strain on the gut, especially when large meals contain a lot of protein. Read on to find out how digestive enzymes can help.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
The term digestive enzymes can refer to two different things. Scientifically, it refers to the four classes of enzymes used to aid in digestion:
These enzymes are produced by the pancreas, but not in large enough quantities to accommodate the needs of bodybuilders. That brings the discussion around to a second definition of digestive enzymes. The term is also applied to supplements like those found at bioptimizers.com designed to make it easier for athletes to fill the gap between their body’s supply of enzymes and the increased demand created by calorie bulking.
Why Digestive Enzymes Matter
Without digestive enzymes, people’s gastrointestinal tracts can’t break down food and absorb the nutrients. This isn’t usually a problem for healthy average consumers, who can get enough digestive enzymes through a combination of endogenous production and consuming them in food. Bodybuilders are different. They need extra digestive enzymes to sustain the healthy digestion of more food.
A lack of adequate digestive enzymes in the gut can diminish athletes’ performance and strength, particularly when it comes to building muscle. Even if people consume tons of the macronutrients required for muscle building, they won’t succeed if their bodies can’t absorb the higher amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats required to fuel those hardcore workouts.
Taking digestive enzymes supports the body’s absorption of nutrients, allowing it to get all the macro- and micro-nutrients required to fuel a muscle-building workout. Supplementing digestive enzymes makes it easier to maintain or increase muscle strength and improve tone while also assisting with athletes’ post-workout recovery.
Types of Digestive Enzymes Used by Bodybuilders
Athletes have choices when it comes to introducing more digestive enzymes into their bodies. They can try to get all of the extra enzymes required through food, but that’s a difficult goal to accomplish for people who have a hard time building muscle and need to eat thousands of extra calories.
Some athletes also purchase individual enzymes as supplements and create their own formulations. The easiest way to go about supplementing digestive enzymes is to purchase pre-formulated blends designed by experts specifically to support muscle building. After all, there’s little sense in purchasing individual enzyme supplements when everyone needs a mixture of enzymes to optimize their digestion.
The problem is that not all enzyme blends are created equal. Some offer more generalized digestive support while others are tailored to the needs of athletes and bodybuilders. To find a good supplement blend, look for these types of digestive enzymes in the ingredients lists:
- Protease – a proteolytic enzyme required for protein hydrolysis and amino acid generation.
- Amylase – an enzyme produced endogenously in pancreatic fluid and saliva that helps to convert starches into glucose for increased energy.
- Lipase – an essential enzyme that helps the body digest carbs and fats found naturally in the pancreas.
- Lactase – an enzyme required to break down and digest the lactose found in milk and other dairy products.
Bodybuilders should also note that these types of enzymes can be isolated from many sources, and some food-derived enzymes are more helpful than others. Bromelain is a great example. Classified as a proteolytic enzyme, it is actually a mix of enzymes first isolated in the late 1800s from pineapples. Bromelain doesn’t just aid in the digestion of meats and plant-based proteins, though. The enzyme also aids in the healing of sports injuries, reduces muscle soreness after eccentric exercise, and attenuates losses in skeletal muscle force production.
Some types of digestive enzymes are more effective than others for digesting specific types of proteins. Actinidin, for example, is a type of proteolytic enzyme found in green kiwi fruit. Like bromelain, it is a sulfhydryl protease, meaning it contains a free sulfhydryl molecule. This molecule seems to be related to actinidin’s ability to aid in the digestion of specific types of proteins. While actinidin supplementation supports the digestion of sodium caseinate, soy protein isolate, and beef protein, it does little to help with the digestion of whey protein isolate.
How to Get the Most Out of Digestive Enzymes
Most bodybuilders don’t have the kind of time it takes to research every endogenous and food-derived digestive enzyme out there. Instead, they leave that work to the professionals and purchase blends that contain ingredients designed not just to aid in the digestion of protein but also to support the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome.
To find the best supplements, take the time to investigate the manufacturers carefully. Does the company have a good reputation among other bodybuilders? Has it been around for long enough to prove itself? Are the ingredients and blends thoroughly tested and regularly updated? The answers to these questions are much more important than product price points, alone.
Once a bodybuilder has found the perfect digestive enzyme mix, it’s also important to take it correctly. Most blends are designed to be taken before or with meals. However, some are designed to aid in the digestion of certain foods, so be sure to check not just the ingredient lists but also the products’ instructions to ensure that the enzymes will provide optimal results.
Start Building More Muscle
Whether consumers are professional bodybuilders or just want to improve the digestion of macronutrients to fuel muscle synthesis during at-home workouts, digestive enzymes are the way to go. Just don’t settle for less than the best.
Supporting and optimizing the body’s natural digestive processes requires buying high-quality supplements, even if they aren’t the least expensive ones on the market. After all, there’s no product more wasteful than a cheap one that doesn’t work. Find a reputable online vendor, browse through their products, and place an order for high-quality digestive enzymes today.