I have a question for you if you don’t mind. I am having trouble with a new diet, it requires me to eat every 2-3 hours (7 meals). Being that I am a hard gainer it’s taken me years to get to my current weight and musculature, mostly through force-feeding high-calorie diets. This time around I am having trouble digesting and I tend to stay bloated all day except upon waking and right when I go to sleep. Is there anything I can take to help me better digest/assimilate my nutrients? I am not sure if I need ginger or enzymes or if there is something better out there.
Hi, Luis. I realize in the bodybuilding world there is an unwritten law that you must eat every 1-3 hours to supply your body with enough nutrients to support muscle growth…especially if you’re a hard gainer.
It’s true there is a certain amount of calories beyond your energy and metabolic requirements you need to consume if you want to build MORE muscle. That makes sense. If you want to build a 2 story house put only purchase enough raw materials to build the first story of the house, that second story will NEVER manifest. So yes, nutrition is extremely important.
Now…I know this is going to blow the minds of most coaches, trainers, bodybuilders, etc. when I say the following. Consuming 7 meals each day is NOT as advantageous in reality as it is in theory. There are actually multiple drawbacks to this strategy which I will explain.
First off, I want to address the issue of bloating and digestive problems. When you eat 7 times per day, you never really giving your digestive system a break. Any time a part of your body becomes overworked there is a negative effect. It doesn’t matter if it’s an organ, like your pancreas, or a limb, like an arm or leg. This includes your digestive system.
When your digestive system is constantly trying to digest food without much rest, the nerve endings throughout the smooth muscles of the digestive system become irritated. This can result in uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms like gas, bloating, cramping, constipation or diarrhea.
Think of it like straining a muscle. Anytime you do movements that activate the muscle you’ve injured, you’re going to feel pain or discomfort. Smooth muscle is a bit different than skeletal muscle, but you get the point. ALL living tissues in our bodies need a rest if they are going to function optimally.
The first thing I would try doing is Intermittent Fasting. This is where you obtain ALL of your calories for the day within an 8-hour window. For example, a lot of people who practice this will consume all of their meals between 12:00 PM and 8:00 PM.
The time of day you choose for your ‘feeding window’ really doesn’t matter. Just be sure you obtain all of your calories for the day within an 8-hour window—and then fast for 16 hours.
If you’re like most bodybuilders, an alarm is probably going off in your head right now. You’re probably saying, “Chad, you’re crazy! I’ll lose muscle if I fast for 16 hours! This is a very common misconception among bodybuilders. Listen, not only will fasting NOT cause you to lose muscle, but it does great things for your testosterone and growth hormone levels!
In fact, every single time you eat a meal, your testosterone and growth hormone levels plummet! By contrast, when you fast, your growth hormone and testosterone levels sky-rocket! There is a TON of research to support all of this.
For example, here is one study that demonstrated how fasting for 24 hours increased growth hormone levels by a staggering 2000%!!!
And the following study showed how even a short Ramadan fast proved effective enough to increase luteinizing hormone by 67 percent in participants, which in turn caused testosterone levels to increase by a whopping 180%!!!
Sometimes people will feel a little bit lightheaded or shaky during the last few hours of their 16-hour fast. I’ve found taking two or three 10 gram servings of Training Ground BCAA (branched chain amino acids) helps tremendously during those final hours. Furthermore, branched chain amino acids will NOT break your fast and may actually help drive up your testosterone and growth hormone levels even more!
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Giving your digestive system a little rest should help eliminate some of the bloating you’re feeling. Additionally, I suggest taking some pancreatin capsules with each meal to help your body digest food more efficiently. Plus, take a potent probiotic supplement before bed on an empty stomach. Select a probiotic with a CFU strength of 30-50 billion. This will help improve the beneficial bacteria to gut pathogen ratio.
When you don’t have enough good bacteria in your gut, pathogens levels increase, which can cause many unwanted digestive issues. Furthermore, try and avoid refined sugars, flour, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners. These ingredients literally wipe out good bacteria in your gut which will exacerbate digestive discomfort.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. I wish you all the best of success in achieving your goals!
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