So the other day I was reading (surprising, right?) about Polish strongman Mariusz Pudzianowski, when I came across this quote from him regarding his diet…
“My energy comes from my diet. Breakfast is 10 eggs and two to three pounds of bacon. Between meals, I eat lots of candy. In the morning, it will be several 3 Musketeers and/or Snickers bars; I need them for energy. Lunch, at 1 or 2 PM, is a double meal of a Polish pork chop, sauerkraut and potatoes. An hour later, I work out, then take lots of supplements: magnesium, creatine, amino acids, all that stuff, and more chocolate. Dinner is whatever meat I can grab—steaks, pork chops, bacon—plus more sauerkraut and potatoes. At 9 or 10 PM, I work out again. Afterward, I have a protein shake and more chocolate. At 3 or 4 AM, I wake up and have more chocolate, then go back to sleep until morning.”
Three things about this really jumped out at me…
One: The guy eats enough food to feed a small village.
Two: He eats more junk food than chocolate boy from Hey Arnold.
Three: Sauerkraut seems to be a staple of his diet. And that got me thinking about how important sauerkraut really is, and why I include it with almost every meal as well.
Note on Pudzian’s sweet tooth: His workload is ridiculously high, and he lifts an inhumane amount of weight on a daily basis. This creates a unique environment where the body is going to use whatever you give it (especially simple sugars) to replace depleted muscle glycogen. Normal people can’t eat like this. And also, there’s the issue of what that junk food does to long-term health.
But back to Pudzian and his kraut.
Sauerkraut is a big part of the traditional Polish diet, and Mariusz Pudzianowski’s dinner plate is no exception to this.
Along with winning 5 Strongest Man titles (he’s the only person who’s done this), Pudzianowski was always in the best shape by far of any of the competitors. Most of the other guys look like this. Is sauerkraut the secret to Pudzian’s success? Eh, probably not. But could it have helped him? Most definitely. I believe his consumption of sauerkraut helps maximize how his body processes nutrients, creating an optimal environment for muscle building, fat loss, and peak physical performance.
Now let’s explore sauerkraut in a little more detail.
The Benefits of Sauerkraut
(preferably raw sauerkraut, which preserves all of the healthy bacteria)
Provides the body with probiotics (beneficial gut bacteria), which is crucial for overall health, because it results in:
- Better digestion.
- Increased nutrient absorption. So you absorb more of the nutrients from everything else you eat.
- More regular bowel movements. (the body’s primary detox mechanism)
- Reduced inflammation. So many modern health problems stem from inflammation. Dr. Art Ayers suggests that chronic, systemic inflammation stemming from disrupted gut flora is the root of most, if not all, diseases.
- Boosted immune function. The majority of immune function comes from the gut, and sauerkraut greatly helps. Read this for a detailed explanation on gut flora and the immune system.
“Healthy gut flora populations protect against invading microbes by simply taking up space and generally being more proficient at obtaining nutrients than the intruders.” – Mark Sisson
Gut health and digestion are so fundamental and crucial to everything health-related, that they simply can’t be overlooked.
What Sauerkraut Will Do For You
You will feel better. Improved digestion Improved nutrient absorption = More vibrant health. You’ll feel the difference.
You will lose more fat. Better nutrient absorption and more efficient digestion will optimize metabolism, making it much easier to lose body fat.
You will gain more lean muscle mass. Better nutrient absorption and more efficient digestion will also make it easier to partition nutrients and pack on lean muscle mass (ask Mariusz Pudzianowski).
You will be a lot less likely to get sick (see above). If good gut health is maintained consistently, this applies to a lot of diseases, allergies, and skin conditions as well. Ditch the dayquil and pick up a fork-full of sauerkraut.
You will process junk food better. Sauerkraut will aid your body in handling junk food when you decide to splurge. Because sauerkraut is so good for digestion, your body will be more equipped to deal with whatever you throw at it. This is why I always load up on sauerkraut a few hours prior to a cheat meal.
The benefits of sauerkraut make up the foundations of health, which everything else builds upon. Incorporating sauerkraut in your diet will literally optimize everything else you do, health-wise.
“This may be the single most important factor that is holding you back from achieving your goals. Whatever you want to improve physically, whether it be your ability to lose fat or build muscle, clear up your skin, boost your immune system, improve your memory or just feel significantly better on a daily basis, it all starts with gut health. Gut health is the most overlooked and underrated aspect of overall physical well being. All diseases and problems start in the gut. If you have poor gut health you will never function at 100% or lose fat and build muscle at an efficient rate.” – Jason Ferruggia
Ways to Incorporate Sauerkraut in Your Diet
- Eat a couple fork-fulls before meals
- Include it in a salad
- Include it as a side with a meal
- Incorporate it in soups
- Mix it with salsa (a favorite combination of mine)
- Mix it with guacamole (see my comment above)
- Try out your own variations
- Drink sauerkraut brine
Fun Facts about Sauerkraut
– Versions of sauerkraut appeared in China as far back as 2,000 years ago.
– Genghis Khan is said to have first transported sauerkraut (or fermented cabbage, because it wasn’t called sauerkraut yet) from Asia to Europe in the 13th century.
– Captain James Cook (English explorer in the 1700’s) brought tons (literally) of sauerkraut on his expeditions and kept his ships practically scurvy-free (during a time when scurvy was a major problem at sea).
– Sauerkraut is speculated to be a strong cancer fighter, and an effective remedy for many other diseases as well.