Bloated, gassy and uncomfortable.
“That meal sat like a rock.”
“Uhhh, I ate too much!”
These feelings mean your digestion is compromised and your weight loss could be stalled. Maybe you overate or your food was combined improperly or maybe your digestion hasn’t been what it used to be for a very long time.
You are what you absorb, not what you eat.
As you age your ability to break down food slows down so you aren’t able to eat the way you did when you were a kid. This occurs naturally but also after years of stomach abuse.
Too many processed foods. Too much food at one meal. Eating while on the go. These all add up to poor digestion.
Nearly one in three Americans have some sort of digestive problem. Some are related to diseases of the pancreas, but most fall under the category of diet and lifestyle.
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Diet And Lifestyle Choices That Cause Sluggish Digestion:
- Lack of exercise
- Additives and preservatives
- Chemicals in our environment
- Plastics from our food and drinks
- Genetically modified foods
- Highly processed foods
- Unhealthy foods
- Lack of fiber
- Refined sugar
- Food sensitivities or allergies
All of these lead to poor digestion and weight gain. The two go hand-in-hand.
What Are Digestive Enzymes And Why Do You Need Them?
Digestive enzymes are proteins produced in the body all along your digestive tract that break up food molecules into smaller particles for easy absorption into the bloodstream where they nourish your whole body.
Good Digestion Is Closely Linked With Weight Loss
The first time digestive enzymes were on my radar was after reading a magazine article about a woman who had lost 20 lbs by doing nothing more than adding two digestive enzyme pills before her meals.
If you want to lose weight, should you buy a bottle of digestive enzymes and forever more take two before every meal? Most likely not.
Digestive enzymes in capsule form are a great stop gap when your digestion is feeling sluggish. They are also perfect for those times throughout the year when you eat a bigger meal or a meal just doesn’t sit well.
While there are ways to increase your own digestive enzymes no matter your age and improve digestion by eating enzyme-rich foods, supplements can get you results quickly.
Your Main Digestive Enzymes:
- Lipases to break down fats
- Proteases to break down proteins
- Invertases to break down simple sugars
- Amylases to break down large carbohydrate chains
When supplementing digestive enzymes, it is best to go with a full spectrum enzyme that can help digest all your macronutrients.
How Digestive Enzymes Help You Lose Weight:
1. Digestive Enzymes Help You Lose Weight With Better Nutrient Absorption
It would seem the more nutrition you absorb the more weight you gain. If you are malnourished because of a lack of nutrient absorption, digestive enzymes would bring your weight back up to a healthy level.
Absorbing nutrients is a good thing for weight loss too. If you have weight to lose, extra nutrients help you lose it in many ways.
If you aren’t digesting nutrients in food, it takes more food for you to feel balanced.
When your body has all the nutrients needed to function properly you lose nutritional hunger. Until the specific nutrients needed are fulfilled, your body continues to send you hunger signals.
Another example, all grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes have a certain amount of digestion inhibitors. A full spectrum digestive enzyme will counteract these enzyme inhibitors allowing you to absorb more of the nutrients from these foods.
So even if you eat highly nutritious food, if you aren’t absorbing all of their nutrients, your body will continue to send you signals to keep eating until it receives what it needs.
2. Digestive Enzymes Help You Lose Weight By Boosting Energy
Have you ever noticed you make better decisions around your health and are more likely to be active when you are energetic?
A lack of energy is often the first symptom of poor digestion. Increasing nutrient absorption increases your energy levels and allows your body to work more efficiently
According to Yuri Elkaim author of Eating for Energy, in most cases, up to 80% of our body’s vital energy is spent on digestion. By aiding the breakdown and absorption of foods, you can free up enormous amounts of energy, increasing physical vitality and enhancing energy levels.
3. Digestive Enzymes Help You Lose Weight By Moving Waste Out
Digestive enzymes speed up transit time for your food. The faster food moves through the digestive tract the less backed-up you become.
Waste = Weight
Impacted waste in the intestines that isn’t moving through the body can weigh up to 10 lbs plus give you a bloated belly.
4. Digestive Enzymes Help You Lose Weight By Detoxing
The body wants to extract nutrients and rid itself quickly of waste products. Undigested food, waste, and toxins that sit around in your digestive tract lead to a build-up of toxic intermediate products that are even more harmful to your body than the original toxins.
If these toxins are not moved out of the body they are reabsorbed and cause toxicity and inflammation.
Proper digestion and elimination can drastically reduce your body’s toxin load.
5. Digestive Enzymes Help Weight Loss By Increasing Fat Burning And Muscle Building
When digestive enzymes are taken with a protein meal after a workout the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in the protein are absorbed better. BCAAs are special protein building blocks that have incredible fat burning and muscle building effects.
6. Digestive Enzymes Help You Lose Weight By Supporting Your Good Bacteria
70-80% of your immune system is housed in our digestive tract.
If your colon is full of undigested protein, your good bacteria is diminished and bad bacteria take hold. Craving refined sugar and processed junk food can be a sign that you have an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your gut
Your good gut bacteria push out bad bacteria and colonize the intestine when your food is properly digested and is moving efficiently. As well, good gut bacteria make digestive enzymes.
Think of digestive enzymes as sprinters and the bacteria as long-distance runners. The enzymes quickly prepare the food for use by the bacteria which in the long run support a healthy gut and help break down food as well.
7. Digestive Enzymes Help You Lose Weight By Decreasing Inflammation
Inflammation affects your metabolism. Undigested food can cause food sensitivities in the digestive tract leading to inflammation.
If the body sees undigested food as a foreign invader instead of nourishment it creates an inflammatory response which can decrease sensitivity to insulin and leptin. These two hormones control, blood sugar levels, energy, fat storage, and appetite.
Inflammation in the body can seriously impair your metabolism and ability to lose weight efficiently.
Symptoms of Sluggish Digestion:
- Belching and gas
- Upset stomach after meals
- Feeling stuffed during and after meals
- Stomach pain or hardness
- Tiredness after eating
- Water retention
When you aren’t digesting well, you know it.
There are many solutions to improving slow digestion. Periodically increasing digestive enzymes is a quick and powerful step you can take to digest with ease.
Potential Side Effects of Taking Digestive Enzymes
Most people tolerate digestive enzymes well. You can run into trouble by exceeding the recommended dosage or if you have an allergic reaction to ingredients in the supplement. Here are some negative effects to be on the lookout for:
- Upset stomach
- Changes in blood sugar
If you have a chronic health issue or are taking medications, you’ll want to consult your health care provider to make sure enzyme therapy is safe.
When Is The Best Time To Take A Digestive Enzyme?
Ideally, you want to take digestive enzymes 5-30 min before meals. To maximize their effectiveness, take them as close to the beginning of your meal as possible so they are in contact with your food longer.
While that is the ideal time to take them, sometimes it isn’t until you are halfway or even at the end of a meal that you realize your food doesn’t feel so good in your stomach.
I often take digestive enzymes in the middle of a meal, when I am still hungry, but start to feel a bit of discomfort. Usually, the feeling that the meal is a little too heavy or not properly combined for me is when digestive enzymes first cross my mind.
If you’ve already eaten, it’s not too late to take digestive enzymes since the stomach isn’t empty after a full meal for 4-5 hours.
Everyone’s system is different and you’ll want to experiment a little to see what works best for you.
How Often Should You Take Digestive Enzymes?
Even if you are the cleanest of eaters, there are days, weeks, months where you go off track. That special meal that you are going to have despite your pristine diet. Or stressful life events where your body needs a little help.
Sometimes you don’t realize how far off track you are with your diet until you start having continual and uncomfortable digestive problems. That’s when digestive enzymes can come in to help out while you work on cleaning up your diet.
When your digestive system is out of whack, it could take upward of 6 months before it is completely healed.
You will know when you don’t need to take digestive enzymes every day. Listen to your body, it will tell you when to start using them on an occasional basis. Until then they can be the crutch that helps your digestive tract start running smoothly again.
How Many Digestive Enzymes Should You Take With A Meal?
Most digestive enzymes serving size labels recommend taking 1 or 2 capsules before a meal, but as with any supplement you want to ease into using them.
Once you’re comfortable with digestive enzymes, there are times you might consider increasing the dosage. For example, before large meals.
It is usually a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and consult your family practitioner if you have questions.
Bonus Tip: Keep a small container in your purse of digestive enzymes for meals away from home.
Do Digestive Enzymes Make You Poop?
Yep! So much so, that as mentioned, you want to ease into the amount you take at first. Most people experience more frequent and larger bowel movements when taking digestive enzymes.
Can You Take Probiotics And Digestive Enzymes Together?
Absolutely! Even though they work differently, they complement each other. Digestive enzymes break down food and probiotics support the good bacteria in your system that works to break down food.
Which Are The Best Digestive Enzymes Supplements?
These are all my favorite full spectrum digestive enzymes. Even though they are strong, they’re not too strong.
NOW Plant Enzymes were the first enzymes I tried after reading about the woman taking digestive enzymes and losing 20 lbs. Recommended by my local health food store as an employee favorite. They break down proteins, fats, starches, dairy, and fiber. As an added bonus they come with natural papaya and pineapple enzymes. They are vegan and kosher.
NOW Super Enzymes. I accidentally picked these up once a few years ago instead of the Plant Enzymes since the packaging is very similar and noticed I needed fewer capsules for the same effect. Although very similar, these enzymes are stronger because they also contain Betaine HCL and purified ox bile salts. Betaine HCL is good for older adults who have less stomach acid, but might be too strong for a younger person. The capsules are easier to swallow than the tablets.
Enzymedica Digest Gold with ATPro is a new addition I had to try after a friend of mine attributed these enzymes to helping her lose 20 lbs of stubborn weight. Granted, I didn’t have magical results like my friend, but I like these enzymes as much as the Now Super Enzymes and these are vegan and kosher. A well rounded full spectrum enzyme.
And The Winner Is…..
A few months ago I chose to enjoy an abundantly full season of celebrations combined with intermittent fasting to keep from doing too much damage. My plan was to get back on track immediately after my indulgences.
Unfortunately, I noticed that even after a few weeks of being back on track with my diet, my stomach would hurt as soon as I ate. Taking the above-mentioned enzymes during my feasting phase had helped, but I didn’t want to continue to take them when I wasn’t overindulging.
Out of balance. I wanted a digestive enzyme combination to help with the immediate discomfort of my meals and probiotics to help repopulate my abused digestive tract.
After a lot of research, I went with Enzymedica’s Digest Gold + Probiotics because it combined the strength and variety of the exclusive Thera-blend enzymes of Digest Gold with a diverse range of probiotics. Within 3 days, I was eating meals without them and experiencing no discomfort. Although these are pricier than regular digestive enzymes, for the few times a month I need digestive enzymes, these will be my go-to from now on.
Finally, digestive health affects the whole body. Using supplements to keep your digestion strong when it needs a little help is a small habit that can add up to big health and weight loss results.
Weight loss is a side effect of healthy living which makes healthy ways – shapely ways.
Thank you for being here and chatting with me about all things health! I love and appreciate you more than you know!