Although overeating is a major problem in this country, undereating is a problem for many individuals who want to gain strength and muscle mass. Often it’s not their intent to eat light, but they simply do not have an appetite. And without enough calories, they will not be able to train as hard as they can and then recover adequately. Here we describe how to increase appetite.
Of course, if you go on the Internet and consult Mr. Google, you can find many funky solutions – such as getting a prescription for the drug Periactin and smoking cannabis, or better yet, getting a prescription for cannabis. While it’s true that smoking cannabis does cause the “munchies", it does so at the cost of cutting down motivation and lowering testosterone for extended periods of time. And yes, the drug Periactin does increase appetite, but it can make you drowsy, therefore reducing your training drive – oh, and there are a few other possible side effects, including fever, seizures and hallucinations.
1. Verify your zinc status.
Zinc deficiency is one of the most common and most serious mineral deficiencies. Whenever I test my clients for the first time, I’ve found that roughly 98 percent are zinc deficient. It’s so common that it’s probably safe for any trainer to assume that all their clients are zinc deficient until they can prove otherwise. And this is not good.
Besides compromising your testosterone levels and increasing aromatization of your testosterone to estrogen, low levels of zinc are associated with poor appetite levels. One reason for this is that you need zinc to make HCl, the primary substance that regulates digestion of proteins. Another reason is that zinc affects how your food tastes, therefore affecting your appetite. A BioSignature practitioner can work with you in using the Zinc Tester to give you an idea of your zinc status.
To verify your zinc status most accurately, ask your physician to measure your red blood cell (RBC) zinc, NOT serum zinc levels. Strength and power athletes train most efficiently at RBC zinc levels of 1,400 to 1,500 ug/dL. By getting the proper amount of zinc, not only will you boost your appetite, your testosterone, immune system and tendon strength will soar. If you score low, take 2 Über Zinc twice a day for 12 weeks, and then remeasure your RBC zinc to adjust your zinc intake properly.
2. Use injectable forms of folic acid and B12.
Those two forms of B vitamins are critical in stimulating the appetite, and the most effective way to achieve optimal levels is through injection. Your physician can prescribe the injectable forms for you; 1 cc of each, twice a week, usually does the trick. Undiagnosed low stomach acid is linked to various neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s because those ailments are linked to folic acid and B12 status (i.e. no stomach acid, no folic acid and B12 absorption). Which brings us to tip number three.
3. Restore your HCl levels.
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is a stomach acid that helps to break down food into useable nutrients and kills pathogenic bacteria that enter the body through food. The increased acid levels in the stomach will improve the absorption of protein, calcium, vitamin B, magnesium, zinc, iron, and other basic nutrients. Having low levels of HCl decreases your appetite for protein.
4. Start the day with lime juice diluted in water.
This is an inexpensive trick that works well. Foods can be classified as being alkalizing or acidifying, as determined by what’s known as a pH scale. The pH scale is measured from 0 to 14, with 0 to 7 considered acidic and 7.1 to 14 considered alkaline. Adding lime juice to water creates a slightly acidic solution that will stimulate your HCl production. The paradoxical part is that the solution helps to alkalize you, which is anabolic in itself, as an alkaline state negates the catabolic effects of cortisol.
5. Salt your food properly.
Functional medicine tests show, over and over, that high-protein consumers are in fact sodium deficient. But it has to be the right kind of sodium. Salt your meat and fish dishes liberally.
In addition, the following can also contribute to a loss of appetite:
- Some antibiotics affect the taste buds. They can also slow the movement of food through the intestines. This prolongs the feeling of fullness after a meal.
- Chemotherapy drugs may affect the taste of certain foods or cause nausea or a loss of appetite.
- Pain relievers and anti-arthritis medications can irritate the stomach. This can cause nausea and a distaste for food.
- Some heart medications and diuretics can also dampen the desire to eat.
- Never stop taking any medication without first talking to your doctor.
- Overall nutrient deficiencies can take a toll on an otherwise healthy appetite.
- Older people in particular may suffer from a low intake of zinc. A zinc deficiency can deaden taste buds.
- You may feel less like eating if you have certain lung problems, congestive heart failure or cancer. Being in a lot of pain from arthritis can affect your appetite, too.
- Depression and loneliness can rob some people of their desire to eat.
If you apply these tips, your lack of appetite will cease to hamper your gains. In the comments section below you can describe what has worked for you in the past to increase your appetite.
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