Musings- can we improve performance, reduce muscle soreness and lose weight, easily?
I think so.
At least the research points to yes. But we have to take a leap. Let me explain...
I have what I refer to as my Dr. Frankenstein brain.
When I get an idea in my head, I theorize about how it can be done. Then I do the research and see what people know and what people have tried.
I am sure we are all like that but I have the added advantage of being able to try it as an experiment.
Recently, I have been looking at muscle soreness, especially after exercise.
We've all been there.
Whether it's a weekend warrior session of overdoing it or maybe you are an elite athlete pushing your workout limits, the build up of lactic acid and resultant muscle soreness is a common feeling for all of us.
But what if we could minimize that soreness?
Or even better- What if minimizing that soreness actually helped us to lose weight and gain muscle mass?
WHAT!? Is that possible?
I believe it is.
The Basic Science
The carbohydrates we eat are supposed to be broken down in the stomach and small intestines into glucose and then absorbed and converted to energy. (In the form of Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP). Sorry, there has to be a little science, right?
However, most of us eat too many carbs: alcohol, sweets, white bread/ pasta, bagels, cookies, cakes, etc. In fact, back in the old days, it was recommended to "carb load" before a game or race so that you would have enough energy.
But what happens to the carbs when your body can't process any more?
When you don't have enough digestive enzymes to break down all those carbs?
There is a limit you know.
Well, if they are improperly digested, it ends up getting to the colon or large intestines.
Your colon is warm, wet and full of bacteria and other organisms, collectively known as your microbiome. That is the perfect environment for carbohydrates (sugar) to show up and be fermented. Fermentation creates organic acids.
Those acids lower the effective pH of the colon and THAT lower pH allows overgrowth of various bacterial strains that:
increase lactic acid in muscles
decrease peristalsis (movement of food through your digestive tract)
decrease liver function- which can reduce processing of toxins from your body
Lactic acid build up in your muscles are what make us sore after exercise.
Now, this usually happens to people with bowel issues like short bowel syndrome but we are musing right?
My Dr. Frankenstein brain always reverts back to functional... Meaning... I ask questions like,
"Is it possible for someone to eat too many carbs and cause a functional version of this pathology?"
Thats the leap.
"Do people eat a lot of carbs in their diet?"
Yes. They do.
So maybe this is part of the problem?
If this was true, what can we do about it?
I'm glad you asked, because I did that research too!
Trust your gut
Research shows that a simple solution to restore balance in the microbiome is simply using probiotics and pre-biotics. Probiotic are beneficial bacteria. Prebiotics is the food that these bacteria eat to thrive.
Both can be eaten or taken as a supplement.
Prebiotic is dietary fiber. When you eat or supplement a healthy amount of fiber, approximately 50g/day, those good bacteria thrive and make short chain fatty acids (SCFA).
95% of SCFA in the body are in the form of acetate, propionate, and butyrate.
Benefits of SCFA:
improve intestinal lining
lower oxidative stress
improves gut health
improves immune health
Here is a website talking about the top foods with high fiber.
Fermented foods are also effective in increasing SCFA.
The other benefit fo SCFA is that they helps reduce weight gain especially in the LIVER. Now we all know that belly fat is the most dangerous type of fat and pre-disposes us to all sorts of chronic disease including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.
So, a diet rich in probiotic and prebiotic foods (or supplements) can increase your SCFA production. Hence, reduce fat, lactic acid production in muscles, and improve break down of foods, like carbohydrates.
We can translate that into- lose weight, be less sore after exercise, and improve performance.
See how fun it is to spend some time in Dr. Frankenstein brain?
It's probably a little more complicated than that but it's a very good start nonetheless.
My favorite supplements for:
To properly digest sugar- (Lactic Acid Yeast Wafers)
Overall digestion support-
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Pohanka M. D-Lactic Acid as a Metabolite: Toxicology, Diagnosis, and Detection. Biomed Res Int. 2020 Jun 17;2020:3419034. doi: 10.1155/2020/3419034. PMID: 32685468; PMCID: PMC7320276.
Tan J, McKenzie C, Potamitis M, Thorburn AN, Mackay CR, Macia L. The role of short-chain fatty acids in health and disease. Adv Immunol. 2014;121:91-119. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-800100-4.00003-9. PMID: 24388214.
Canfora, E., Jocken, J. & Blaak, E. Short-chain fatty acids in control of body weight and insulin sensitivity. Nat Rev Endocrinol 11, 577–591 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrendo.2015.128
Shimizu, H., Masujima, Y., Ushiroda, C. et al. Dietary short-chain fatty acid intake improves the hepatic metabolic condition via FFAR3. Sci Rep 9, 16574 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-53242-x