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How Digestive Enzymes Help Men Stay Fit, Trim & Ready to Conquer Their Day

Digestive enzymes aren’t generally hot topics you bring up with the guys, but bear with us for a moment. These are your gut’s best friends — and that means they play a big role in how you look (especially around the gut), how you feel and how you perform. Do we have your attention yet? Let’s get into some nitty gritty.

Every time you eat, digestive enzymes work behind the scenes to help break down food through complex chemical reactions. Each enzyme targets a different macronutrient — from sugar and carbs to fat and protein — then alters them to speed up the metabolic process. The result, when all goes smoothly, is a more energized, focused and active you.

Table of Contents

What Are Enzymes and How Do They Work?

Digestive enzymes are biological catalysts that speed up chemical reactions in the human body. When you take a bite of food, these enzymes make it their mission to bond to, split up and restore those large molecules, called substrates, back to their building-block components. Here’s how it works.

  1. Enzymes bind to substrate molecules in a lock-and-key fashion.
  2. The enzyme bonds or bends the substrates to convert them into molecules known as products, like fatty acids and simple sugars.
  3. Enzymes release the products back into the body as a source of energy.
  4. Enzymes return to their original state and do it all over again.

Each enzyme is “highly selective,” which means it only speeds up a certain digestive reaction. For example, some specialize in breaking down fats, while others target carbohydrates.

Okay, enough with the science stuff. Let’s get into why this matters.

Understanding how digestive enzymes work, as well as the unique purposes they serve, can help driven men like you identify gaps in their diet and lifestyle to improve overall digestion — and better digestion equals better physical and mental performance.

Amylase: Converting Complex Carbs into Simple Sugars

cereal, bread, pasta, high carbohydrate foods

Ah, carbohydrates. For many, it’s a love-hate relationship. With the reward of indulging in pasta, bread and fries comes the risk of elevated blood sugar and weight gain. Amylase helps ensure the complex carbs you eat are converted into energy — not stored as fat.

Most amylase enzymes are made in the pancreas and salivary glands. Their main function is to convert complex carbohydrates into simple sugars that provide your body with energy to fuel an active lifestyle. Without amylase, you'd feel sluggish, sleepy and bloated. Sound familiar?

A healthy amount of amylase in your blood — which stems from eating a healthy amount of carbs — keeps you energized and full while supporting muscle, kidney, brain and heart health. However, just like the tasty carbs that amylase converts, too much of it can be a bad thing. High levels can indicate pancreatitis, pancreas blockage or pancreatic cancer.

So, what can you do to keep your amylase levels in check for optimal digestion? Surprisingly, the answer isn’t “eat fewer carbs.” In fact, studies have linked healthy amylase levels to better starch and glucose tolerance. The solution instead lies within the pancreas; lean meats and legumes are easier for this organ to process than fatty and sugary foods. Here are some other tips:

  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Stick to a diet low in saturated fat
  • Eat red meat in moderation
  • Eat high-fiber foods

Protease: Building Muscle and Boosting Energy

meat, fish, eggs, high protein foods

We’ve all been there: You’re lifting heavy, staying consistent and following all the so-called rules. But after a few months, you look in the mirror and think, where’s the muscle? Well, you may not be digesting enough protein to produce noticeable gains. Enter, protease.

Proteolytic enzymes, produced by the pancreas and stomach, transform proteins into amino acids that help your body grow and repair tissue, build muscle and maintain energy.

Not only do proteolytic enzymes aid in protein digestion, but they also help alleviate swelling and inflammation. One study also found proteolytic enzymes help scabs and scars degrade faster.

With bulking season in full swing, consuming plenty of protein is key for maintaining healthy protease levels. Men should strive for 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, per day. The more you eat, the better your body will become at processing it, leaving you with improved digestion, less inflammation, shorter healing times and the significant gains you’ve been working for.

Lactase: Helping Your Body Absorb Dairy

milk, cheese, dairy foods

We all love a cheat day, don’t we? Ice cream, pizza, loaded nachos, mac and cheese ― basically anything with cheese. It’s great going down…but moments later, your bloated stomach jolts you to a back-on-the-bandwagon reality.

You’re not alone here. Most guys suffer with dairy as they get older. In fact, 70% of the world’s population is lactase deficient in some way, according to a 2019 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study.

Produced in the small intestine, lactase converts the sugar found in dairy products, called lactose, into glucose and galactose. These simple sugars provide your body with yet another source of energy.

However, lactase supplies naturally decline as we age, making it difficult for our bodies to digest dairy products. For many, low lactase is the main culprit for diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain and other GI issues. Eating dairy in moderation (or, sadly guys, cutting it out altogether) will help you avoid these unpleasantries and support gut health.

Lipase: Breaking Down Fats for Digestion

bacon, egg, avocado, high fat foods

Whether you’re feasting on fried chicken and pizza or meal-prepping with avocados, nuts or eggs, most foods contain fat — but that’s not a bad thing. Men should get 20% to 35% of their daily calories from fat, but it’s what your body does with it after that matters. You can thank lipase for using fat to create energy instead of extra inches around the waist.

Lipase, created in the pancreas, mouth and stomach, helps your body convert triglycerides in fatty foods to fatty acids and glycerol so they can be absorbed in the intestines.

High levels of lipase can result in pancreatitis and other pancreatic diseases, as well as kidney failure, cirrhosis, or bowel problems.

You can lower your lipase levels with the same tactics listed under amylase, like limiting alcohol, red meat and saturated fats. It’s all about making your pancreas happy.

Cellulase: Essential for Digesting Fiber-Rich Foods

fruits and vegetables, high fiber foods

Packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber — and low in calories and fat — fruits and veggies never fail to make us look good and feel great. But when not digested properly, you can miss out on many nutrients critical for gut health. That’s why you need cellulase.

Unlike other enzymes, cellulase isn’t naturally produced in the human body. This enzyme instead forms from bacteria, fungi and plants. Because animals can’t digest the thick fibers in fungi and plant cell walls, cellulase breaks down those fibers into beta-glucose and short-chain polysaccharides. Your body then uses these byproducts for energy or expels them.

Cellulase is essential for digesting fruits and vegetables and can even amplify their nutritional value. It’s also a strong detoxifying agent and helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Eating lots of produce, especially apples, pears and root vegetables, can ensure smoother digestion and promote whole-body balance that keeps you focused and driven.

Improve Your Digestion with Mdrive

From gaining muscle and cutting fat to keeping your brain alert and focused, enzymes are often the difference between where you are now with your physical and mental health goals, and where you want to be.

Eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies, give your body the carbs and fat it needs and listen to your body when it comes to dairy. If you do that, your loyal, behind-the-scenes workers, A.K.A. enzymes, will cover the rest — making you the strongest, leanest and highest performing version of yourself.

Supplementing is another great way to give your metabolism a boost. Kick off your day with Mdrive Start, packed with a powerful DigeZyme enzyme blend of amylase, protease, lactase, lipase and cellulase, to help your body maximize nutrients at every meal.

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