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The #1 Thing Missing From Your Workout Routine

7 minute read

Fitness is a goal for many people these days. Exercise not only helps you to lose weight but provides additional benefits like helping to lower blood pressure, which prevents numerous serious health problems including heart disease. It also helps to elevate your mood and gives you all the energy you need for each busy day.  

While exercise is a great way to stay in shape and promote good health, diet plays a significant role, as well. Exercise places physical stress on your body and you will need to replenish your body with nutrients in order to repair the muscles you have worked out.

Before you work out, you will want to consume carbohydrates for fuel. Following a workout, you will want to eat protein, which helps repair muscle fibers, promotes the manufacturing of new muscle fibers. and restore depleted energy.

This may seem complicated but once you have a great routine in place, it’s really quite simple.

Is Something Missing?

You have the diet and you have the exercise regimen which incorporates stretching, cardio, toning and strength training. What else could you possibly need? The answer is bacteria. Not the kind that makes you sick but the friendly flora that already lives in your gut.

These guys help to properly digest food, as well as support your immune system. Without the right bacteria, your digestive tract falls apart, which can lead to a downward spiral of health complications from within. Supplementing your diet with some probiotics is the best way to support that healthy lifestyle and get the most from your exercise.

| Related: Can Daily Probiotics Help With Irritable Bowel Syndrome?|

A healthy gastrointestinal tract involves trillions of microbes, which number greater than the total number of cells we have in our body. Since there are a number of reasons that these natural numbers can be depleted, such as antibiotics and illness, it is important to have probiotics as a way to replenish what we lose.  

In recent years, our digestive tracts have shown a decline in the diversity of bacteria. Excessive hygiene, overuse of antibiotics, and dietary changes have all contributed to the dwindling numbers of flora in our gut. This can have serious consequences for our overall health, no matter how much you exercise.

Why You Want to Include Probiotics

Probiotics assist digestive enzymes to break down food and to assist with the absorption of nutrients. The digestive system produces bile to help break down food particles, and this can be corrosive to the lining of the gut. Probiotics act to protect the lining from the potential damage that causes a 'leaky gut'.  

This dangerous phenomenon means that food particles can leak through the lining into the bloodstream, triggering autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease or Crohn's disease.  

By reducing inflammation, we are protected from many serious diseases and our bodies function much more efficiently.

| Related: Staying On Track With a Long-Term Probiotics Routine |

Probiotics can work with your diet to help your weight, as well as help you to recover from exercise. While lifestyle, genetics, diet, and the environment all contribute to obesity, probiotics can play a role in assisting.

Probiotics will not magically cause you to lose those undesirable pounds but for those trying to lose significant weight, they are an easy and beneficial addition.  Regular exercise is good for our whole body but has particular benefits for the gut. Not only does it help to burn belly fat away, but it also speeds up digestion.

This means harmful bacteria that is ingested will be passed through your system much more quickly, giving it less chance to do any damage. You need to be careful not to overdo workouts because too much exercise can be disruptive to your gut. Probiotics and exercise working together are nothing short of a dynamic duo.  

Sources of Probiotics

What is the best way to increase your intestinal flora? Yogurt is always the first recommendation. But this is not good news if you are lactose intolerant. Thankfully, yogurt is not the only source for good microbes. There are additional food sources that will supply you with the much-needed bacteria for a healthy digestive system.

Yogurt and yogurt-based products: Not all yogurts contain live cultures, so be sure to always check the label before you buy. You want to buy a product that contains live active strains and also lists the strains contained. 

Pickled foods: Foods like sauerkraut, pickles and pickled vegetables all contain active cultures. The pasteurization processes used in processed versions kill off the bacteria, so “raw-fermented” products or homemade is preferable.

Fermented foods: There are a number of fermented foods that contain live cultures; dairy and nondairy versions of kefir, kimchee, miso, tempeh, and sourdough bread.  

A Probiotic Supplement

These are particularly useful for people who have special or restricted diets or food allergies.  When it comes to choosing a supplement, there are a few things to remember.

CFU's: These are the colony-forming units, and the most effective numbers to look for are between 15 and 25 billion, but if you can find a probiotic with even higher CFU's, your gut will thank you.

Expiration dates: Probiotics do not necessarily go bad like food but over time the bacteria can die which makes them less effective.

Keep them cool: Bacteria need cooler temperatures to survive, so refrigeration is the best storage option.

More is better: Look for a supplement that has multiple strains. The ideal ones to look for are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Since certain strains are beneficial for specific conditions, it is advised to research the different strains and look for what you need.  

Microencapsulated: Having a coated supplement will ensure that the probiotics make it through the stomach, so as to reach the gut where they are needed. 

The Bottom Line

Exercise provides numerous health benefits. Fueling your body with the right foods, nutrients, and hydration before and following workouts is key to optimize the effects of exercise. Another key element to optimize the benefits of your workout and diet routine is ensuring your digestive tract has the right mix of gut flora.

While you can add live-cultured yogurt and fermented or pickled foods, probiotics are a useful way to add multiple strains of good bacteria. The right balance of gut flora can prevent many health conditions.

Read Next >>> Healthy Gut 101: What Are Probiotics

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19957873
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-health-benefits-of-probiotics
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-probiotic-supplement#section3