You are what you absorb, not what you eat. Here’s how to get more from the food you consume
Now that everyone’s on the same page with eating their protein and vitamins, the big word among those in the nutritional know is bioavailability. In pharmacology it’s a term that relates to things like “systemic circulation” and “first-pass metabolism”… but in nutrition it’s just about how much of the good stuff you eat actually gets used by your body.
“A lot of guys want to take crazy supplements, but they’re not even digesting what they eat,” says body composition specialist Luke Leaman (musclenerds.tv). “Stop worrying about the bro-science stuff, and get your food and body in order so you can assimilate your main meals.” Here’s how to get it done.
Q WHAT’S THE SIMPLEST THING I CAN DO?
A IMPROVE YOUR INTESTINAL FORTITUDE “Over time, if you’re too stressed, or eating or drinking the wrong things, your intestinal lining degrades,” says Leaman. “The surface shouldn’t be flat – it should look like shag carpet. If it’s like regular carpet, you have a problem.” Since you’re unlikely to self-fund a gastrointestinal endoscopy, the simplest thing to do is cut down on booze and stress. Limit drinking alcohol to two or three days a week – it gives your gut a chance to recover – and do a “life audit” to identify key areas that are stressing you out.
Q IS IT BETTER TO EAT FOOD RAW?
A SOMETIMES Some foods lose nutrient content as they’re cooked. Heat breaks down vitamins C and B, and because they’re water-soluble you’ll lose more through boiling – so if you’re cooking broccoli, kale or sprouts, it’s best to steam or sauté them rather than boiling.
Other foods, though, deliver more nutrients when they’re cooked: lycopene in tomatoes, for instance, which has a protective effect against prostate cancer, becomes more bioavailable when cooked. Similarly, carrots and sweet potatoes release more betacarotene in cooking, while heat makes proteins in meat easier to digest.
General rule: if it’s green, keep the cooking to a minimum. And reheat – occasionally. “Boil your potatoes and let them cool down, then reheat them and eat them,” says Leaman. “A good portion of the starch in them will convert