T Nation

Digestive enzymes/protein questions

Yes, gang, it’s another protein-related question, but these havn’t been covered here, that I remember.

I have some questions about the effects of digestive enzyme supplements on food proteins. I have an idea in my mind about the answers, but I just want to check and make sure. In these questions, assume that the enzyme supplement is specifically one targeted for proteins:

  1. Although high-protein diets like ours are fairly safe in studies, some people have slightly higher liver stress because of the liver’s load in producing sufficient enzymes to metabolize the proteins. Will digestive enzyme supplements protect the safety of my liver by reducing its burden? (or is it the pancreas I’m thinking about here? Either way, same question)

2) Will digestive enzyme supplements enhance the muscle-favoring effects of dietary protein by ensuring that more protein is actually digested (and therefore used), rather than simply being excreted, unused?

3) Will digestive enzyme supplements help reduce the lovable symptoms of gas that we weightlifters have come to love, caused by undigested protein in the gut?

This is not answering your question, but you might get a kick out of it.

Last weekend, my wife was driving with me to the mall, and I had to let one rip. I have been on a Androsol cycle, so I have been trying to consume 400 grams of protein a day, most of it in the form of powder. Well, it was particularly pungent, and she began to dry heave believe it or not. I thought she was faking, so I started laughing uncontrollably. Turns out she wasn’t and she pulled into a parking lot and told me to get the hell out of the car and walk home.

So, needless to say, I also need help with the gas aspect of high protein consumption. Maybe TC could do a Atomic dog on the hazards of high protein diets.

I don’t really have answers, but regarding the third point about gas… I found that when I stopped taking in lactose, what I thought were protein-related problems went away. FYI, I take in about 1.5-2g protein per lb. LBM

After much experimenting w/ digestive enzymes, I’ve had very good success digesting protein using Bromelain. The, um, gas and other digestive problems are a goner which I usually get from high-protein/calorie intakes. Other enzyems I consume w/ meals include Agree from GNC for fruit and vegetable consumption and Pro-Biotics Acidophilus from Nutrition Now.

I never get this problem from eating massive amounts of meat (I’ve got a company expense plan so I can hit a 20-24 oz steak 2 or 3 times a day as long as I drag a client along). I’m wanting to cut down on bodyfat, and I was thinking of using a MRP, as beans and lentils give me severe gas. I may reconsider that after the trouble you guys are having.

I do get this problem from grains in general though. I started a digestive enzyme for that yesterday and it works like a charm. I used to get sharp pains in my lower intestine and gas that should be banned under the Geneva convention. Now I can eat hamburgers again without anyone suffering.

First of all, Alex, that was funny as hell…Did you really have to walk home. I can just picture it. I wouldnt even have been mad cause at least I got a good story out of it!

As far as digestive enzymes helping build muscle via more absorption. I dont think so unless you are deficient and your absorption is very poor. Most bodybuilders (myself included) take in way above their needs of protein. I do it just to be safe so that I have enough protein around when I need it. Also, I like to eat it and it is a nice way to stay lean on higher calorie diets. So I dont think any of us (at 1g/lb or above) are limited in muscle building potential by the absorption of our protein.

About the questions though, typically the body can handle protein pretty well. But this all goes out the window when you're eating alot like many bodybuilders do (I eat 400-450g per day). I find that the gas is not always due to the protein itself. It may be the protein plus all the food taxing the digestive tract. Also, you may be consuming lactose and be sensitive to that. I never was lactose intolerant until I was 20 or so. Now, it could have just developed over time but I believe that my super high milk consumption in my teen years and my huge caloric intake contributed to it. And this belief is not just based on my story. I have at least 5 friends that never started experiencing lactose intolerance till they started bodybuilding and eating like a bodybuilder. So that is where you can first start in terms of eliminating gas. Use lactaid milk.

Next, digestive enzymes like Bromelain may help digest the protein on high intakes, which may lead to less waste and less gas. Theoretically then you wouldnt have to eat as much protein. I wouldnt do that, though, as you can never be sure that the enzyme is actually helping digestion and absorption of protein. One concern is that often the enzymes may be broken down before they can work. But I know alot fewer guys have to walk home when taking these enzymes. They can only help and arent that expensive so it cant hurt to try it out.

About the liver, it doesnt produce the enzymes for protein metabolism. Precursors of the active digestive enzymes trypsin chymotrypsin and pepsin are released from the pancreas and are converted in the stomach or intestine to active enzymes. Here they are free to break up protein bonds into peptides and aminos. The ability of the pancreas to release these enzymes is good and it doesnt get stressed.

Thanks for the answers, guys!

Oh, and two things for Alex: first, she really only made you walk because she was on her way to meet me.

And second, a simple inexpensive anti-flat pill works really well on protein.