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August 26 2009 Digestive Capacity

Written by Iron Addict:
Copyright 2008,

After working with well over a thousand personal training clients over the last 10 years, I have come to the firm conclusion that digestive capacity, or lack thereof, is one of the prime causes of failure in the lifting world. If you don’t fuel it, it will never happen, and by “it” I mean fat loss, lean mass gain, strength gain, etc.  While a large segment of the lifters out there don’t fuel “it” well enough due to pure neglect on their part, many lose because of an innate lack in their capacity to process large amounts of food well.

And while many persons’ digestive capacity improves over time, some persons’ improve only very little.  As the lifter gains more mass, it becomes even harder to hit the daily caloric and protein level needs. Take a guy that started out at 175 and could barely eat enough at that bodyweight, once he gets to 225…getting past the next bodyweight hurdle will be that much harder as his body will likely not be able to digest and absorb the amount of nutrients that it will take to get him there.  I have a great combo, fast metabolism and slow digestive capacity. From the time I wake-up to the time I go to bed it’s a struggle to cram enough food in, and after I’m in bed it’s not over because I have to get up and slam a shake in the middle of the night often if I didn’t get the daily allotment in before bedtime—great!

Some guys tell me they can eat all of their allotted kcals and 300 grams of protein before noon and still be hungry, and some guys complain that 300 grams a day almost kills them and that they are bloated all day. And 300 grams is for the little guys. Many of the bigger guys need 400-500 grams a day (ask a 220+ lb guy training for powerlifting or body building how much protein he eats in a day…bet it’s close to this amount). 

What can you do about this? The biggest thing you can do is to REALLY try and troubleshoot the foods and food combinations that cause you problems. I know guys that bloat like pigs from a glass of milk and then wonder why they are bloated and not hungry when they mix all their protein (with lactose usually) with milk!  Also, food allergies are extremely common and yet, some people never “put 2 and 2 together” and eliminate foods that cause them problems. Some food combinations just don’t work for certain people and should be avoided. I can eat a HUGE steak and a potato and be hungry again in a few hours, if I eat a huge steak and a salad, it takes MANY hours before it goes down. So, I typically don’t eat the salad. Pretty simple. 

Digestive enzymes can be extremely helpful too. Don’t overlook them if you are having problems processing food. If you don’t fuel “it,” it will never happen. If you can’t seem to eat enough without almost exploding, analyze what and when you are eating certain foods and make some smart changes. I see posts all the time where guys ask for workout routine advice and then admit their diet plan sucks and they “don’t/won’t/can’t eat” enough. If you can’t support the growth process at the diner table, you might as well stay home on gym day.

Iron Addict

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