Nutri­ent ab­sorp­tion

You are what you ab­sorb, not what you eat. Here’s how to get more from the food you con­sume

Men's Fitness - - Contents -

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

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