Digestion and metabolism are not one and the same, but they certainly need to work together for optimal workout benefits. Digestion involves the breaking down of food and distributing nutrients throughout the body while at the same time getting rid of the any waste.
Metabolism is when your body uses the energy and nutrients from the digestion process to aid workouts and also to process food in everyday life.
For your metabolism to work properly, the digestive system needs to be feeding it the right nutrients for exercise. Likewise, if your metabolism isn’t so great, the digestive system ends up storing excess calories as fat, so both need to be working in tandem for your body to completely benefit. After only 10 minutes of exercise, your bloodstream contains more metabolites than when you started, and consistent exercise stimulates long-term changes in metabolism.
What to eat
During weight training, the digestive system competes with the muscles for all that blood flow that’s occurring during a workout. Whichever one has the heavier load wins this epic showdown, so it’s important to have a specific eating schedule that favours your muscles since they need the blood supply a lot more than the digestive system (he is a bit greedy it seems).
Melbourne-based PT and elite athlete Sheena-Lauren Steinert recommends watching what you eat pre-workout.
“My number-one rule before working out is to have something in your belly.
“An active body is a raging fire and food is like its coal. If there is no coal, your body will use what it has, which can sometimes mean hard-earned muscle from your last workout!”
While some science says carbs pre-workout increase workout intensity and duration, offsetting any fat burn impediment, Steinert advises clients to skip them pre-workout. Small meals high in protein and low in carbs encourage the body to use its own fat stores for fuel, she says.
Exercise that support digestion
Along with diet, workouts that strengthen abdominal muscles support optimal digestive organ function. Try a yoga exercise, surya namaskar, to increase heart rate and strengthen your core.
Do a set of 12 Surya Namaskar poses early to mid-morning. Poses such as Hastauttanasana (raised arms pose), Hasta Padasana (hand to foot pose) and Bhujangasana (cobra pose) benefit the stomach muscles and posture.
For diet, Steinert says great pre-workout foods include scrambled eggs (three egg whites and one egg yolk, diced tomato and onion), half a banana with one tablespoon of peanut butter (100 per cent roasted peanuts), or a protein shake made with water.