Fixing The Gut
Chances are your stomach isn’t running in perfect nick, and is in need of an overhaul.
A good diet requires more than the sum of calories and macros. Once you’ve weighed them up and shovelled them in, you still need to be able to digest them efficiently.
Reliably feeling bloated and tired after a meal is a tell-tale sign that things aren’t working like they should. Where you should be rebuilding muscle and restoring energy, a misfiring gut could be tripping you up.
Training needs to be balanced out by recovery, and part of that is being able to absorb and use the macro and micronutrients. If they’re getting lost in the process, then the body can end up deficient in the building blocks needed to pick yourself up in time for the next session.
The problems go further than simply leaving you unable to build muscle. A weak gut can drive up inflammation and mess up the balance of hormones in the body.
Cortisol in particular can get jacked up to chronically high levels, at which point anxiety and fat gain are almost inevitably part of the package.
The first step to fixing the gut and pulling your body away from a crisis, is finding out which foods are not binding well with the digestive process. It’s a process of elimination.
Here are the classic perpetrators, found in many of the foods you’re eating today.
The Issue: Hard to digest, addictive, causes inflammation, and wears the gut lining.
Sources: Wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and their byproducts, including wheat and white flours
Hidden sources: Malted barley, malt syrup, malt vinegar, brewer’s yeast, seitan (wheat gluten), soy sauce, gravy, sauces, and thickened dressings
The Issue: Processed and high in Omega 6, which is pro-inflammatory.
Sources: Popcorn, cornflour, polenta, high-fructose corn syrup, corn oil or Mazola (sometimes called vegetable oil)
Hidden sources: Baking powder, maltodextrin, dextrin, dextrose, maltitol, mannitol, MSG, iodized salt (Morton’s), calcium citrate, sorbitol, sucralose, Sweet’N Low, xylitol, xanthan gum
The Issue: Phytates block nutrient absorption, causing deficiencies. Also highly processed.
Sources: edamame, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk, soy protein powder, textured vegetable protein, isolated soy protein and vegetable oil
Hidden sources: Sugar icings, processed meats, soy lecithin (may be just noted as lecithin), baked goods, vegetable broth, artificial and natural flavouring, thickening agents, cooking sprays, and protein bars and products
The Issue: Creates energy swings and excessive inflammatory insulin production.
Sources: cane and GMO-beet sugar, evaporated cane juice, fructose, sucrose, glucose, corn syrup, high- fructose corn syrup, agave, maltose, and all sweets and sweetened foods
Hidden sources: breads, condiments, salad dressings, bars, cereals, most processed foods
The Issue: Lactose and casein can both be hard to digest, irritating the stomach lining and causing mood disturbance.
Sources: milk, cheese, butter, cream, yoghurt, cream cheese, sour cream, and milk protein. Avoid at least 6 weeks: whey and ghee
Hidden sources: processed meats, artificial and natural flavouring, high protein flour, granola mixes, canned tuna, broths and stocks, medications and vitamins, cosmetics, fat replacements
Identify which foods may be causing you problems with your post meal state, and take them out for 4-7 days. If issues remain, move on to the next food group. By the process of elimination, you’ll be able to hone in on what ingredients are hurting progress.