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How to Use Enzymes for Exercise

Learn how digestive enzymes can be used for far more than just digesting a steak or a big meal.

By
Ben Greenfield,
February 6, 2017
Episode #323

Page 1 of 2

You're sore. Maybe it was the heavy squats. The long run. The enormous  number of pull-ups you cranked out. Or just ... life. So you open the refrigerator. Now you're digging around for something, anything to knock out the soreness.

And you happen upon that bottle of digestive enzymes you rarely use or only use prior to meals. You look at the label. Protease this. Amylase that. HUT. SAPU. FIP. Whatever the heck those mean (perhaps you should check out this episode of my fellow Quick & Dirty Tips podcast “The Nutrition Diva’s” piece on enzymes to learn more.)

You shrug and walk way, in search of a foam roller.

But what would've happened had you popped a few of those enzymes? You'd be surprised at what could have happened when it comes to the potential for significant increases in muscle recovery. So in this episode, you’ll learn how digestive enzymes can be used for far more than just digesting a steak or a big meal.

What Are Digestive Enzyme?

If you need a really comprehensive review of what digestive enzymes are and how digestive enzymes actually work, then you need to listen to my recent podcast episode entitled "Probiotic Enemas, Digestive Enzyme Myths, Breathing 10 Kilograms of Oxygen, Low-Protein Diets & More." In that podcast, I interview biohacker Matt Gallant and bodybuilder Wade Lightheart about their probiotic and digestive enzyme blends, and they reveal plenty of interesting facts that I didn't know about both probiotics and digestive enzymes.

Basically, the role of digestive enzymes is to act as catalysts in speeding up specific chemical reactions in your body—primarily by helping to break down larger molecules into smaller particles that the body can better absorb.

The duodenum of your small intestine is where amino acids are extracted from proteins, fatty acids and cholesterol are extracted from fats, and simple sugars are extracted from carbohydrates. All macronutrients are broken down into molecules small enough to be carried in the bloodstream, and micronutrients (if they haven’t already been cleaved in your stomach acid) are also released and transported into the bloodstream.

To get the full benefits of any digestive enzymes, you should take them anywhere from 30 minutes to immediately prior to a meal (and you'll also get plenty of benefits if you pop them directly after a meal in case you forget to take them before). This becomes all the more important as you age. According to enzyme expert Dr. Edward Howell in his book "Enzyme Nutrition," the average human loses 70% of their enzyme reserves by the time they’ve reached 40 years of age (in that book, he also states that lifespan is directly proportional to the rate of exhaustion of enzymes in the body).

But the benefits of maintaining adequate levels of digestive enzymes goes far beyond simply enhancing your absorption of nutrients and minerals from food or avoiding things like carb and protein farts. Let's take a look at another little known benefit of digest enzymes: recovery.

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