To reveal the abs you’re working so hard for, you’ve got to take care of what’s going on beneath their surface—a.k.a. inside your gut. There’s a reason the gut is often called the ‘body’s second brain.’ If our gut health is off, it not only can leave us dealing with uncomfortable digestive issues, but also hinder our ability to process carbs, protein, and fats—making it harder to build muscle and get lean.
Beyond fitness, our gut is also crucial for immune function, affecting our ability to fight off stress, sickness, and disease. A strong immune system is key if you want to perform at your best and see results.
There are two main things I incorporate into my daily routine to help keep my gut in tip-top shape:
Here’s the super-simple lowdown: Your digestive system is chock-full of bacteria. You’re probably thinking ‘bacteria’ equals ‘bad,’ but a lot of the bacteria in your gut are actually good for you—those good guys are called ‘probiotics.’
Probiotics support healthy digestion and help your body defend itself against the harmful bacteria that gets into your system. And that’s important if you’re smacking the gym in the face every day and trying to get stronger. If your system is constantly struggling to fend off harm, that extra effort takes away from your strength and stamina in the gym, which can ultimately steal potential gains from you.
You can find probiotics in some foods—yogurt probably being the most popular. But that’s not the only food source out there. You can also find probiotics in kefir (which is like liquid yogurt), sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, and kombucha. I definitely recommend adding these probiotic foods to your nutrition plan where you can. You can add yogurt or kefir to a protein shake, snack on pickles, or pick up a bottle of kombucha at most grocery stores.
Otherwise, you can make sure you’re feeding your body lots of good bacteria by taking a quality probiotic supplement. I recommend a supplement that has a culture count of 20 billion and at least six different strands of bacteria. (These will all be listed out on the bottle.) You can find them in capsules, powders, and even liquid forms.
I get a ton of questions about the difference between probiotics and prebiotics. Now that you know all about those good bacteria, I’ll give you the scoop on the equally-important prebiotics.
Basically, ‘prebiotics’ are a certain type of carb that our body doesn’t digest. These carbs then act as food for the probiotics in your gut.
Prebiotics can be found in whole grains and various other foods (think asparagus, bananas, onions, garlic, bran, beans, and apples). I suggest consuming these foods daily to ensure your gut is firing on all cylinders.