Maintaining a Healthy Digestive System

prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes explained

It has happened to everyone, perhaps you went to try out that new restaurant all your friends were recommending and before you know it your stomachs bubbling and you have an uncomfortable case of the runs. It’s a very crappy situation, pardon the pun, but the diarrhea and digestive disturbance for most will last a day or two then things are back to normal. While not a comforting scenario it is much better than what many who have Celiac disease, Crohns disease, IBS(Irritable Bowel Syndrome), IBD(Irritable Bowel Disease) or a strong gluten intolerance have to endure day after day for their entire lives. These conditions while characterized by symptoms of diarrhea, intestinal cramping and incontinence all have one common factor; the inability to properly process the food you’re consuming. The digestive system for most people, even performance minded people is mostly an afterthought, it only enters our minds when something goes wrong, when in fact it is a primary factor in health and performance and should be treated as such.

Obviously every person was not made to process every type of food, so if you are ingesting something that does not agree with you the best thing to do is just stop eating it, but often the solution nowadays is not that simple. We live in a period of mass food production, extreme processing, GMOs, horrible chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Animals are pumped with antibiotics and steroids and fed unhealthy grains to fatten them up all in the name of profits. It seems no matter how careful you are with your eating habits; organic, grass fed and gluten free isn’t necessarily going to save you due to confusing labeling laws that allow them to obfuscate the truth and put you at risk. Definitely make the best, cleanest, least processed choices you can but consider that you may need to include ‘special’ foods or even supplements to balance things out.  Also consider that at some point everyone is going to have cake at a wedding or cut loose with junk food while on vacation or have a few beers with some buddies while watching the game. All of these behaviors can kill beneficial bacteria and contribute to an imbalance in the digestive system, don’t beat yourself up about it but be aware when you may need to be a bit more aggressive with digestive prep.

The parts of the digestive system with which we are primarily concerned are the stomach, small intestine and large intestine or colon. When you eat food the initial step of breaking it down is chewing and the food being covered by a small amount of digestive enzymes contained in saliva. From there it enters the stomach and is broken down by hydrochloric acid and more enzymes before entering the small intestine, where it is further processed by a large amount of beneficial bacteria. This is where the bulk of nutrient absorption takes place. From there it enters the large intestine as mostly waste. The final steps are taken before it is passed to the rectum. Right after the skin, the intestines are the largest organ system in your body. If you were to stretch out the small and large intestine at length it would measure over sixty feet. Sixty percent of your immune system is contained inside your digestive system, so we are talking about the foundation of your constitution. When the digestive system does not function properly quality of life suffers right along with performance and recovery. Simply put, if you cannot process the food you are taking in optimally then you won’t be able to live optimally either.

Adequate fiber intake is the first step to keeping things moving smoothly. Fiber is technically a  indigestible carbohydrate, it has no actual nutritional  value, it acts as roughage, there are two types of fiber soluble and non-soluble. The rule of thumb for fiber is to consume 1 gram for every 10 grams of protein. Fiber has been shown to help maintain a healthy balance in the gut and GI tract and help escort toxins out of the body. Fiber also helps to prevent constipation and bloating. The best food sources for fiber are vegetables of all types, fruits of varying types and whole grains. Most people have at least a cursory knowledge of fiber so now let’s get to the beef of this burger.

The foundation of a healthy digestive system is what we like to call beneficial bacteria or probiotics, the good flora and fauna of or our intestines that are responsible along with digestive enzymes for the more complicated process of absorbing the nutrients from the food we consume.  So maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes is paramount in our quest for optimal performance. Digestive enzymes are enzymes that break down macronutrients into their constituent parts for absorption. Proteases and peptidases split proteins into small peptides and amino acids. Lipases split fat into three fatty acids and a glycerol molecule.  Amylases split carbohydrates such as starch and sugars into simple sugars such as glucose. These are the classes of digestive enzymes we are primarily concerned with. Probiotics need an environment conducive to their growth and this is where prebiotics can be useful. A prebiotic is a type of fiber, usually a saccharide, that does not emphasize a particular bacterial group but provides a healthy environment for the probiotic to flourish in. Probiotics are classed into two main bacterial strains: lactobacillus, the most common coming from yogurt and other fermented products and bifidobacterium, found in certain dairy products. A proper balance of these 3 nutrients is paramount to keeping your digestive system running at peak performance.

First we should look at our food, as we can get both prebiotics and probiotics from food sources. The best food sources for prebiotics are: Arabic gum, raw (dry) chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, garlic, leek and onion. The best food sources for probiotics are: Greek yogurt, pickled vegetables, tempeh, miso, buttermilk, kombucha (fermented tea), sauerkraut and soy sauce. It is a good idea not to ingest sugar with probiotics because the bacterium may feed off the sugar rendering it inactive before it has time to pass into the intestines. It is also recommended that you take probiotics on an empty stomach so as not to release digestive enzymes that attack the bacterium before it passes out of the stomach.  Most probiotics should be kept refrigerated or in a cool dry place, if it gets too hot the bacterium will die and become useless. You also want to be careful consuming food at temperature extremes, too hot or too cold can slow digestion as well as kill of beneficial bacteria that may already be in your digestive system. Luke warm is the best way to consume just about anything as the bodies internal temperature is 98.6, the closer to that temperature your food and liquid is, the more easily processed and absorbed.

Supplementation has become such a big growth industry in part because of what unhealthy food has forced our bodies to endure, and while supplementation is still a small part of the puzzle, supplementing with prebiotics and probiotics may be the best option for people that don’t have either availability of all the proper foods, or need extra help to keep a healthy balance of gut flora. A prebiotic supplement with which I have found useful is called Inulin, it is a soluble fiber a type of fructooligosaccharide which not only has the ability to create the correct environment but also has shown the ability to bind to bad bacteria and exit the body as waste. There are also many probiotic supplements that use a combination of the two bacterial classifications in the billions of cells in order to help repopulate the intestines and keep the delicate balance which allows us to get the most from our food. One of the most interesting probiotics is Saccharomyces Boulardii, it has been shown to survive the stomach acids much better than many of the other probiotics. Athletes consume and use more protein that the average sedentary person, and for that reason supplementing with some type of proteases and peptidases digestive enzymes makes sense on a somewhat regular basis as the body may not make enough to break down the added protein. Here at supplementcentral we sell a wide variety of cheap and effective probiotics and digestive enzymes  that can help you get the most out of every morsel of food that crosses your lips. My personal favorite is the NOW Foods Probiotic-10 this supplies effective doses of both main classifications of bacterium.

Ain’t Got No Time for Percentages! The Bulgarian Training Method

Front Squat - Bulgarian Method -

What is it?

Bulgarian training principles are simple and very intuitive in nature.  If you want to get strong you need to lift heavy as frequently as possible.  Ivan Abadjiev championed this very philosophy and in the process created a weightlifting world super power with a country that had a population of less than 8 million.  Abadjiev pushed his Bulgarian lifters to maximum snatches, clean and jerks, and front squats multiple times a day.  As result, the Bulgarian system has become synonymous with maximum efforts and very little assistance work.

Why is it effective?

The human body is resilient and will adapt to stresses placed upon it.  We know that in competitive lifting sports such as weightlifting or powerlifting the highest adaptation occurs at percentages over 85% of one’s maximum. If your goal is to lift maximum weights in either of these two sports you must do most of your training at near maximal loads.  The more the training, the more adaptation the bigger the weights!!!

Mike Overhead - Bulgarian Method -

Who should use it?

Athletes that want to get crazy strong with at least a few good years of strength training experience to ensure that ligaments and tendons have pre requisite strength levels to sustain such demanding loading.  IF YOU ARE A NOVICE THIS IS NOT FOR YOU!

Also, if you’re doing this for looks or bodybuilding this is also not for you. Taking max singles and doubles daily do not provide the time under tension necessary to grow cross sectional area of muscle or sustain muscular hypertrophy.

How it should be used?

Follow how your body feels!  I cannot stress this enough!  You will not be able to PR every day, even if your one of Abadjiev’s “enhanced” lifters.  Sometimes ya got it, some days you don’t .  Being able to distinguish between good and bad days is huge, push it on good days back off on bad ones.

If it is crazy power and strength you seek quit messing with percentages and quit worrying about overtraining! Got off the couch, turn off Sports Center, get some coffee and get your ass to the gym and train hard!

Until next time, stay juiced!

Mike Whiteman
Host of the Fast and Jacked Podcast
Instagram @get_juiced77
Twitter @get_JUICED77 

Build a thick and fuller back with this simple routine

Sam Hall Back Pose - Supplement Central Blog

BIG BACK DAY! Get a thick and fuller back, let’s go…

Starting my back workout, I like to utilize the smith machine and to do bent over rows. I use the smith machine to focus on form and contraction of the lats to warm up the back.

Smith Machine Bent Over Row Sets

– 1 warm up set of 15 reps. Use no weight (just the bar) or add 5 – 10 pound plates to warm-up and get the back nice and stretched out.

3 heavy working sets. I increase weight and drop the rep range:

– Working set 1 – 10 reps
– Working set 2 – 8 reps
– Working set 3 – 6 reps
– The final smith machine set will be heavier weight for 6 reps with a drop set to burn out or reach physical exhaustion.

What’s a drop set exactly?

A drop set is a form of a working set technique for pushing through an exercise with a much lower weight than a persons’ max lifting weight.

Example: I can bent over row 100 pounds for 6 reps. This is my max working set that I would do for 6 reps, then drop the weight down to 80 pounds. At this weight, I will do 6 reps, then drop the weight down to 60 pounds, so on and so forth until you get down to just the bar or until you reach physical exhaustion.

Next workout is Rack Pulls

Rack pulls are almost like a half dead lift. The reason I like to do rack pulls is because on my back day, I only focus on my back. When doing a full deadlift you incorporate a lot of leg work. I save my leg work for leg day.

– 1 warm up set of 15 reps. Use no weight (just the bar) or add 5 – 10 pound plates to warm-up and get the lifting motion down.

3 heavy working sets. Using the same format as before, increasing the weight as I decrease the rep range.

– Working set 1 – 10 reps
– Working set 2 – 8 reps
– Working set 3 – 6 reps
– Working set 4 – 6 reps
– Finish the working sets with a drop set to burn out.

You can do rack pulls multiple ways. Some people like using 25lb plates so they can get a deeper squeeze, or you can use 45lb plates to stack that weight up. (LIGHT WEIGHT BABY!!!).

After rack pulls I start doing all of my rows. I go to the T-Bar Row to really get a nice pump and contraction in my back.

I use 45 pound plates because I get a very good contraction from the workout.

T-Bar Row Sets. 6 sets total here:

– 1 warm up set
– 3 sets, increasing weight each set, for 12-10-10 rep range
Finish off with two (2) heavy ass sets for 8 reps. – Feel that pump!!

Next workout is Seated Cable Row.

I like throwing resistance exercise into my workouts, which is why I like using the seated cable row machine rather than a plate loaded machine.

I always start heavy and end heavy with seated cable rows.

– 5 sets total , increasing the weight (resistance) each set
– 15-12-10-8-8 rep range

Last but not least, the Lat Pull Down.

Finally I start my lat pull downs to end my workout. There is a lot of controversies between wide grip pull downs or close grip pull downs. I do close grip and I’m not going to explain why, you’ll see for yourself! I stay generally lighter here because I hold a longer squeeze with this workout.

– 5 sets total, increasing the weight each set. (again, start with light weight)
– 20-15-12-10-10 rep range

Go heavy but don’t lose form and remember to squeeze!

Sam Hall Back Pump Flex

The total back domination workout routine. Use this workout, got a big back pump? Show me what ya’ got.  Snap a picture or video, tag us on social media, and use hash tag #bigbackdaySC for a repost!

– Sam Hall
Bodybuilder, Writer, Sponsored Athlete
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Don’t Be Afraid of Change! Are You Lacking Variation?

Change is good. Especially when we are talking about your workout. The staples of my training (movements) rarely change. You won’t find me partaking in any goofy movements that I saw on a video or YouTube, but my workout in general is ever changing.
What changes so much? Variables.
Variables to training are not just limited to going from light weight to heavy and high reps to low reps, even though that is mostly all that seems to change for the average gym member. To gain maximum benefit from resistance training, take a look at your current workout and see what you modify based on the variables I am about to mention below. All of my clients programs utilize this variation to maintain constant stimulus to the muscle to continue to progress and avoid that dreaded plateau. With the name Luke, I have heard this since I was a tike, and now I do “use the [FORCE],” but now it stands for something. My training, Focused On Reaching Constant Enhancement, avoiding plateaus and continuing to get stronger and witnessing growth.
A few of the variables that are manipulated on a constant basis are:

1. Frequency: Number of times you train each muscle group per week.
• Train lagging body parts more frequently

2. Volume: Number of sets comprising each workout
• Increased volume will lead to increased growth. High volume doesn’t necessarily require an extremely long workout, you can benefit from decreased rest periods.

3. Intensity: Relative to training effort as compared to YOUR maximum capacity.
• Incorporate high intensity days with lower volume and lower intensity with high volume.

4. Rest periods: In between sets you can obviously change the amount of time you rest very easily.
• Most people fail to do this (it’s the first one that slips my mind) and they just perform the second set when “ready.” This can lead to wasted time as well as the well-known “social butterfly” of the gym wrapping you up in conversation. To avoid this dreaded encounter, wear a watch or use you phone to monitor how long you are taking between sets and vary it from exercise to exercise. Try mixing it up with rest periods of 30, 45, 60, 90, and 120 seconds. I generally rest longer on power movements such as deadlifts and rest less in the early part of a longer session.

5. Time Under Tension: Keeping tension (weight) on your muscle for a longer period of time.
• For example, try properly performing seated incline curls. You will be forced to use a lighter weight and you will struggle. With the bench set at approximately 45 degrees, hold the dumbbells to your side and start with your elbows slightly bent. Perform a full range of motion curl, brief pause at the top to ensure you are controlling the weight and it is not controlling you and then let it down on a 4 count to keep the muscle under tension.

6. Workout Saturation: There may be different names for this but I think of it in this way. The given amount of work performed in a given amount of time.
• A workout will be more saturated when you take a workout that took you 1 hour last week and perform it in 50 minutes this week. I recommend writing down start and finish times to your training sessions and try to “beat the clock” the next time you do the same/similar workout.

• You cannot train at a high volume and high intensity. These two will be inversely related. When you are increasing your intensity, in a manner of heavier weight, faster pace, you will have to lower the overall volume to compensate and properly complete the training session
• To increase volume, start slow, add an additional exercise here and there, then additional sets, eventually additional training days per muscle group
• Vary rest periods throughout the workout in no particular order
• Train hard

Continue to follow these posts for a new FOCUS muscle group training that will then encompass a complete workout.

Stay Fit,