Lil Miss Fitness Freak

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Happy Gut, Happy Training

Happy Fitness Friday Friends!

I thought I would keep trekkin along on the gut topic as more recently gut health has really been getting some hot attention. It would have been nice if the importance of gut health and taking proper care of your flora and and such was noticed earlier but that’s science and they are only really starting to crack the surface on this whole intricate system (which did you know actually has something very similar to an entire CNS for itself??!).

happy-tummy-2

So why am I talking about this for Fitness Friday you ask?

Well, as you’re probably aware, your gut is important for a number of things. Some of those things are extremely vital to your training…

~Digestion and absorption of the nutrients you get from your food

~Making short chain fatty acids that can also be used as a form of fuel

In taking a deeper look at the first one, obviously an efficient and EFFECTIVE digestion system not only helps you get the nutrients you need but that ultimately affects your mood to train and how intense you think you can go, your energy levels, your strength levels, recovery ability and overall just makes you feel good enough to have a beneficial and enjoyable lift. After all, who enjoys anything when their stomach is is just not right?

So with keeping this post low key and not too wordy, I thought I would share some tips for optimizing your digestive health and also some things that can help when your stomach decides to attack you.

These are going to be coming from my experiences and my coaches suggestions mostly. Some other things I may include are those that I have heard about but may not have much experience with SO they may or may not be effective. I still want to share them, however, because gut health and what makes people feel their best is so variable that some random things may work for some readers.  

So lets start with somethings that help optimize gut health and prevent issues.

Probiotics

Adding healthy, live cultures to your gut is a good thing. Many things inner environment today kill our flora. With less bacteria, you have less lil guys to break down your food and can cause poor digestion. Invite some new people into your lil biome to help yourself out. Ensure they are refrigerated! Ones on the shelf are no good. 

Glutamine.

I talked about this one in a previous post, so check it out here. I also talked about making your own gelatin gummies there too which are loads with glutamine naturally and are very cheap to make.

Bone Broth.

Going along with glutamine and probiotics, making your own broth is great for your gut and very satisfying during the winter months here in the great white north. Ensure to use free range and organic chicken or beef with the bones to get the live bacteria and the most omegas and glutamine.

Apple Cider Vinegar.

Another thing I already talked about here, but I will say that this is helpful for adding more acid to the gut to help with breakdown. It is especially helpful for those who have low stomach acid and often complain of indigestion. Lemon juice also has similar effects.

Fermented Food.

Kombucha, Sauerkraut, raw yogurts with the active cultures, etc are all great sources of probiotics and thus have the same benefits as taking a supplement, just in a much smaller amount. Take caution though, these may be a problem for some. For example, I love love love kombucha, but the carbonation that naturally occurs with the fermentation doesn’t go over well with my tummy unfortunately. Trial and error with these guys friends.

Watch your water consumption with meals.

Sounds weird, but makes sense when you put it all together. If you drink water during a meal, the liquid will dilute you enzymes and simply slow digestion. Consider holding off on the drinks until a lil bit after you have digested a bit. Some say 30 minutes, but I always say to go with your gut…I’m so punny…

Avoid gum or things that add excess gas in the stomach.

Gum. Beer. Carbonated drinks. Straws. ETC. All of these are going to put lots of gas and excess air into the gut and if you’re very sensitive, well you’re gunna get an upset tummy plus bloating. Also, chew slowly and don’t gulp in tons of air.

Say no to artificial sweeteners.

These tend to be HUGE gut irritants. Whether they give you diarrhea if consumed in large amounts or just straight up gas and distention, they do not make for a happy gut.

Sleep!

Sleep is super important for many things, but one clear cut trigger for my stomach is go hay-wire is if I don’t sleep enough. Poor sleeping, whether it’s chronic or even just a couple days, can really cause your digestion to slow right down and cause you discomfort so make sure you are getting your beauty rest.

…and a last and seemingly obvious one…

Avoid things that your tummy doesn’t agree with.

As mentioned, this seems obvious. If you get an upset stomach after eating something, don’t eat it. Surprisingly, I have heard of so many cases where people say they choose to suffer the consequences and just eat it. To each their own I guess but if you have a serious sensitivity like celiac, where further consumption continues to damage your intestinal track, you need to give you head a smack and just quit cold turkey.

What about when your tummy gets mad…

Low FODMAPs.

I would have said BRAT diet foods BUT I’m much more confident in this approach for a few reasons. One, apple sauce is out for me because I have experienced issues with apples, which are high FODMAP. Also, the bread is another issue. What if your issue is wheat? Overall, yes the FODMAP diet is more restricted but most often chronic digestive issues are from sensitivities that you are going to have to figure out and those often require elimination and then trial and error. By going full low FODMAP you are giving your system a break from all inflammatory and problematic foods and then can re-try them when it’s a bit happier.

Slippery Elm.

I personally have taken this, but not sure whether it made a difference at the time because I was trying so many things at that point, but I have heard good things from others about this one. You can get it in a supplement form, but they also have it as a tea.

Digestive Enzymes.

If you know you have issues with digestion OR for those who are thinking about starting a bulk, digestive enzymes can help support the breakdown of your food simply by adding more enzymes to the playing field. You can chose ones that contain one or more types of enzymes depending on your needs. Have an issue with dairy? Try lactase. Don’t know what your issue is? Try a multi-enzyme.

Pineapple.

Speaking of enzymes, pineapple actually naturally contains an enzyme of it’s own, Bromelain, which can also help digestion. Plus pineapple is awesome. Just be careful not to over do it or you will find yourself peeling the top layer of your mouth off…

Mint Tea.

I always do well with peppermint. Whether you have nausea or you need something warm and comforting when your stomach is being annoying, mint (specifically peppermint…yes there is a difference!) is always my go-to.

Take it easy on harder to digest foods.

Red meats, fats, raw vegetables, high fiber foods, etc are all much more difficult for your system to take care of. When it’s already upset, go for things that are absorbed more quickly and easily. Think low fiber carbohydrates (cream of rice, oats sit well for some, pumpkin, squash, white rice and potatoes), some fruits like bananas, lean meats and fish and easier digesting fats (but still keep these a bit lower) like coconut oil, which bypasses the liver and goes right into use as energy.

And finally be patient. When your stomach is upset, the best you can do is be nice to it and let it settle. Try not to stress about it and let it run its course. Ensure that if it’s a new problem that you take a look at your recent eats and activities and try to figure out the trigger so you can try to avoid it in the future. If it is due to chronic illness, I can relate and I’m sorry you have to put up with that crap but I can only hope that these can serve as a means of coping with it when it looses its mind.

Hope your tummy’s are happy tonight and enjoy the rest of your Friday friends!

-Chelsea

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The Forgotten Nutrient…Fitness Friday 13

Guys there is a micronutrient that is feeling left out. Do many even consider it a nutrient at this point? Well, we all should be because it is essential to your overall well-being.

~It helps you stay satiated which can help with maintaining your weight

~It helps your body bed rid of excess toxins

~It keeps your colon healthy and clean

~Healthy digestion requires it

~Keeps cholesterol in check by helping to excrete excess from the body

~Helps keep your blood sugar normalized by slowing the entrance of nutrients into the blood stream via digestion. 

And so much more.

Did you guess what I’m talking about yet?

fiber

Cough…that would be FIBRE we Canadian here eh!

Fibre Fibre Fibre, oh where do we begin…

Fibre is a necessity to life for more then the reasons than I mentioned about above. If I were to go into a lot of detail on all of those then this post would go on for eternity so, take my word for it that it’s a wee bit important.

One thing I wanted to really touch on was the importance of fibre for performance and body composition, as this is a fitness related post right?

So lets start with Body Composition

Because lets be honest, that is probably the first thing people will want to hear about.

So, I would say that the general relationship between body composition and fibre focuses on satiety. Satiety is a critical component of maintaining a healthy weight because it is what keeps your calories in check because, obviously if you’re full, most of you won’t eat more.

Also, if you really think about it, what foods are often higher in fibre? Well it’s not the highly processed ones. Nope, it’s your natural foods like fruits, grains, and vegetables. These are the foods that help keep you fuller for longer and can keep you from raiding your pantry 5 minutes after eating your meal.

fibre foods

Another thing about these foods is that they tend to be much lower calorie (Given appropriate portion sizes for things like grains and starches) than their lower fibre counterparts. So, despite filling you up more, they actually will contribute to your total caloric input much less.

What else affects your body composition?

Bloating –> If your gut is not healthy and things aren’t moving nicely, it can lead to poor waste removal and that build up not only makes you feel icky but often leads to water retention and bloating. By incorporating foods high in fibre you can keep your tummy happy and keep you feeling less puffy. Please note that the opposite is true here too! Too much fibre can wreck havoc on your gut and leading discomfort and gas, so watch how much roughage you eat. You’re not a herbivore with 2 stomachs, so don’t eat like one or you will suffer. 

If you’re looking for some research, here was a study done in females that looked at the effect of increasing fibre on weight. What is particularly interesting was that they factored in exercise too. So, yes exercise can be a tool for keeping your weight steady, but even in those who exercised, when their fibre intake was lower, they actually gained more weight over the duration of the study. One conclusion made was that it appeared that fibres influence was most probably due to less of a caloric intake, which goes back to our whole satiety discussion.

So what about performance in athletes?

There aren’t really studies showing that fibre helps with performance directly per say, but obviously nutrition is critical for ones ability to perform at their best.

For one, if you’re not getting enough fibre then you may actually not be fuelling your body effectively for your craft. For example, if you’re fibre is low that may mean that you’re not taking in enough good sources of carbohydrates, which can lead to not having enough energy to supply your training. This could also mean that you’re not getting enough fruits and vegetables, which can also hinder performance as those are where the majority of the vitamins and minerals are which are often found as co-factors in energy releasing reactions.

Performance would also suffer if your gut is being a pain right? I know if my stomach is not happy, my performance in the gym suffers because 1. I have a lot of energy going towards trying to fix said tummy issue and 2. because I feel like crap so I’m distracted and off my game. Fibre helps the tummy so eat yo fibre rich foods!

Lastly, obviously body composition comes into play here as well. In many sports, weight maintenance is a big deal. If you are maintaining a healthy weight, you are often better able to be more efficient and perform more optimally than if you were overweight. Unfortunately, that is just a reality.

So overall, can we now give some love to this very critical micronutrient? It does way more for you then you can ever imagine! Despite being so simple to get, it’s one nutrient that is often overlooked and under consumed in our typical American diets these days.

If everyone got in the right amount of fibre, would we be having such a hard time with obesity? Hmmm..

So, take a look to nature a few times a day and get in some foods that boost up that fibre intake. And no, this doesn’t mean you have to eat like a rabbit and hate your life. Natural foods are yummy too, you just need to be a bit creative! Your body will thank you and you will be happier because you will have more energy and feel much more satisfied in the long run.

For specific daily intakes, there have been ball park estimates here and there. From Canada’s Food Guide (eww don’t like that thing) it says around 25-38g per day. The Canadian Diabetes Association says upwards of 50g for the upper limit which seems like a world of pain in my eyes. From the fitness community, I have heard that around 10-15g per 1000 cals is sufficient. So, I would say take an average, so anywhere from 25-35 seems reasonable to me, smaller number being for smaller people like females. 

fiber shake

-Chelsea