I think we all have experienced some gut inflammation before and how it can drastically derail your day to day activities. Today, let’s talk about how proper gut health/care can impact your performance in the gym. It does not matter if you are an athlete, weight lifter, runner, or yoga enthusiast; if your gut is feeling off, you will not be having a good workout. Everyone’s gut bacteria, microbiomes, significantly influences how well they perform and how fast they recover.
The microbes in our gut are responsible for the way in which we break down fiber, carbohydrates, protein, and regulate energy. They influence inflammation, stress resilience, and neurological function, even impacting mental toughness – all of which are incredibly important to athletic performance.
A healthy gut can improve your performance in your training and can improve the rest of your daily life. Think about it: Your gut regulates your metabolism and, it digests and absorbs the nutrients that give you the energy to build muscle. So yeah, its pretty important to give your gut the proper care it deserves.
Here are four ways gut health can impact your fitness:
Your stamina is determined by various different things. Genetics, how much/often you exercise, how well nourished your body is, but your gut also plays a roll. At a basic level we understand that food = energy. If we follow that premise, if your gut is not digesting food properly, it cannot absorb the nutrients that your body needs to be energized. So, you need healthy bacteria in your gut to help break down food into substances that your body can use.
The good bacteria in your gut can impact your hormones to keep you feeling energetic, and can even support mental clarity and focus to help you get your head in the zone for an intense workout.
An upset digestive system can lead to a restless night, which can impact your energy levels the next day. So, this can compound on each other, good gut health -> quality sleep -> higher energy levels; or vice versa. This cycle can either build you up or drag you down.
Intense exercise can often cause people to be prone to upper respiratory issues and other infections because of the effect training has on the immune system. 80% of the immune system is located in the intestine. So, a healthy gut can lead to a great immune response when you are exposed to germs that can lead to infection. You need to boost your gut microbiome so that the number of good/bad bacteria is a balanced ratio. A healthy gut will immensely help support your immune system. Which means, less sick days that keep you in bed and out of the gym.
As stated, your gut is what absorbs the nutrients from the foods you eat. Your gut influences how your body utilizes nutrients and helping keep blood sugar levels at a normal range. A healthy gut also helps create the hormones that are associated with feeling full; if you feel full longer that will lead to less overeating and less weight gain. While this may not be the definitive reason why you cannot lose those last 5lbs, a healthy gut will not hurt getting you on track to a healthier lifestyle.
After physical exercise, your body needs to repair and rebuild muscle tissue, as well as rehydrate and flush out the lactic acid that may have accumulated in your muscles. It also works hard to get your blood sugar back in balance in order to prevent a post-exercise drop in glucose levels. That’s where your gut bacteria are needed to break down the lactic acid into butyrate, helping ease soreness and helping support nutrient absorption so your body has the materials it needs to rebuild itself.
If your digestive system is not functioning optimally, then neither is your nutrient uptake. Which means that all the vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fatty acids, and supplements you ingest are not being used to their fullest potential for energy, recovery, muscle growth and repair. You can be eating the right amount of food and hitting all of your macros but if your body is not digesting those foods properly, it can end up being a waste.
On the bright side, for most people, maintaining a healthy gut really isn’t challenging. Eating whole foods and throwing in a supplement with probiotics can keep you on track to a healthy gut. If you are looking for a supplement to help improve your gut health, check it out HERE. And here is a blog about the benefits of this product.