Are Probiotics Good for Runners?

I know you can't help yourself, you're looking for that magic bullet, right? You want the thing that's going to make you faster and you've seen something about probiotics and gut microbiome and how it makes you run better and you can digest food more easily.
Are Probiotics Good for Runners?

I know you can't help yourself, you're looking for that magic bullet, right? You want the thing that's going to make you faster and you've seen something about probiotics and gut microbiome and how it makes you run better and you can digest food more easily. But you're not really sure. Is it real? Is it not real? Will it actually help me? Well, today we're going to talk about are probiotics actually good for runners?

Welcome to the channel. Welcome to the show. If you don't know, I'm Jesse Funk, this is a show I called Runner's High, where we talk about everything running and even endurance related. If you want to talk triathlon because I did that for nearly a decade, but today we're going to talk about probiotics.

Now this is kind of been on my mind recently as I've been working on this new sports drink that has to do with your genetic potential and how your electrolytes vary by genetic components you have. So we're talking about that in another video, but if you want to check that out, see if that's out So I've been thinking a lot about how does our gut and our digestion and all of that affect our performance, both through that hydration component like I'm working on for the here now and then also in the terms of the food that we consume more the fuel that we consume during a race.

I've actually had a conversation recently with Ironman great Mark Allen on my other show, The Smart Athlete Podcast, comes out on Fridays. I'll link to my conversation with Mark at the end of this video. You're going to want to check that out. We were talking about the Sub seven project, which if you don't know you're not in the kind of triathlon world, maybe you're just in running. It's the pursuit of a series of some of the world's top pros to try to break seven hours for an Ironman. And what Mark and I talked about was how theoretically, it's possible, and he's actually made a prediction. He thinks that somebody's going to go about six thirty three.

We're talking about, is that the biggest limiter is not training. It's not all these other things. It's nutrition, because there's a a genetic wall of our body's ability to process and absorb food that will simply be able to not be overcome. There are mental barriers like the 4-minute mile or, in this case, the sub seven Ironman that sometimes it's a psychological factor that's a barrier and not physiological. But food, in our ability to digest it is going to be a barrier that you can't simply get over. And one of the big factors in our ability to digest food, especially complex carbs, which we need in longer races, a mix of simple and complex is going to be our gut microbiome or those good bacteria that live inside of our guts.

Now, I was very fortunate in the very early days of the Smart Athlete Podcast that other show I do here on this channel to talk with two people who are both runners and endurance athletes and studying gut microbiomes of ultra athletes that Dr. Greg Grosicki and Dr. Matt Laye at the end of the video, along with that episode with Mark, I'll link to those episodes as well. So if this is a topic of interest to you, you're going to want to check out my conversations with them from a couple of years ago now that I started the podcast. So subscribe and check those out and you know, all the usual YouTube things.

So when I was talking to them, you know, we want to talk about probiotics, right? I had to ask them, like, is this simply like, Oh, I'm going to go to the store and take some probiotics? And now I'm going to be an awesome ultra runner? Well, it's a little more complicated than that because what I think both of them actually said, but I could it could have just been one of them. In any case, what they told me was that the problem with probiotics is that often the actual bacteria you're trying to get into your gut gets broken down and digested before it reaches your gut to flourish. So there's kind of mixed results in studies on whether probiotics are actually effective or not. But there are different ways to approach the problem of trying to make your gut microbiome better or more effective to be an effective athlete.

And one of the easiest ways to do that without taking probiotics is simply eating a wider variety of food. So this comes with the idea that you should eat a category of food called prebiotics and prebiotics, which is kind of becoming a little more trendy now for various things, both in skincare for like good bacteria in your armpits to try to help prevent your armpits from smelling. And then also in your gut microbiome. Prebiotics are basically food for good bacteria. So what does that actually mean and why are you trying to take prebiotics?

It could just be regular food, and it's largely going to be fiber and complex carbs. So the interesting thing about fiber and complex carbs is that cells that, we, as humans produce, have a hard time breaking these things down. And you might go, well, I've eaten stuff with fiber in it before. I've eaten stuff with complex carbs and before Jesse, like, I'm not, I'm not an infant. I'm not on a simple carb diet and I've never had fiber before. Right? But the thing is, our cells aren't very good at it, which is why we have that gut microbiome. So we need those extra bacteria that are good at it to help us break those down so that then we can digest the byproducts of what they are doing the work for.

So they break stuff down. We take the rest, break it down, absorb it further and then, you know, poop it or put it out later because poop is always a constant conversation with runners. So the thing with taking these prebiotics is these classes of food are now giving food to the good bacteria in your gut. And when you're giving them food, they multiply, they replicate, and now you have more of them, it becomes easier to digest those things. So you've kind of done the effective work of trying to take a probiotic by feeding the gut bacteria that you already have with these prebiotic type of foods.

So that brings us back around to should you actually take that probiotic pill that you're grabbing from Amazon or the grocery store or GNC or wherever it is you've got it from. And I think the answer I remember from Greg and Matt was it kind of depends. Some are going to have more effective strains than others, and it also depends on what's in your gut to begin with. It is well outside, well outside. If I can talk today well outside my scope of expertise to say you need these particular things, then to try to just it's it's beyond me. So as somebody that I guess I would consider myself a layman here, I get the fortune of talking to those experts on the Smart Athlete Podcast again, I'll link to them at the end of this video.

I would say it's a matter of budget and then risk reward ratio, right? So from all the studies that have been done on this and is it effective to help you? There's some studies that say, no, it doesn't do absolutely anything and others that say, yeah, we can probably suggest that there are some benefits to endurance athletes taking probiotics. So from there you go, OK? We don't typically see any downsides. So the negative is pretty low. But the positive may be there, right? And to me, that's just a matter of one. Am I going to stick with the routine of actually taking it because you have to be consistent with it, just like you have to be consistent with your running? You have to be consistent with it over time for these good bacteria to flourish inside of your gut. And then can I easily afford it?

Everybody has to prioritize with their own budget is and I'm not a personal finance YouTube channel, although I'd like to talk personal finance. But that's something that you have to figure out is whatever the cost of the probiotics for you. Is that something you can easily afford? And is that a good use of your money? If it didn't work, if it was worth nothing? Would you be sorry that you spent that money on that? And that's something you can only decide, but that's how I weigh things out. That's kind of the kind of like mathematician personal finance side of me.

So when you come down to it, after you figure those things out, it may help. It probably won't hurt. And then, can you afford it? Proceed from there. After answering those questions for yourself, as I'm about to say this and I'm sorry, I'm going to say there's a lot to digest from this video. I really didn't intend that, but as I as I was about to say, it came out of my brain and I went, Oh, it's just all the puns anyway. There is a lot to digest from this video and things to think about, as well as those interviews that I talked about from the Smart Athlete Podcast. So we'll link up on the screen. I don't know exactly where it will be, but Mark Allen Ironman great.

When we talk about all the things that he did, he should be doing now for endurance training. Really great conversation and then going way way back. Dr. Greg Gorski and Dr. Matt Laye. How they are studying ultra runners and their gut microbiomes. They actually suggest that we may eventually have a company that helps get a probiotic based on the profile of these pro athletes. And then it is actually going to be. Supposedly more effective in getting into our guts to flourish, so check out those conversations. And as always, subscribe, stick around for more videos, and I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.

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