Beyond Live It NOT Diet! – Test Your Digestion (The HCL Test)

Poor digestion has become extremely common, and it’s usually because of an underactive stomach (low acid secretion) and undersecreting organs (pancreas, gall bladder, etc).   How this happens is debatable, but most research points to chronic gut damage; which is the product of poor food choices (high grain, low meat), excess stress, and over-medicating (antibiotics, antacids, NSAIDs).


Here are a few symptoms:

  1. Bloated after eating
  2. Excessive burping and gas
  3. Bad breath
  4. Low hunger or energy
  5. Constipation or undigested food in stool
  6. Acne and hair loss
  7. Heartburn or GERD
  8. Chronic nutrient deficiencies (despite good nutrition)

With #7 highlighted because for most it seems backwards that chronic heartburn or acid reflux would be the result of ‘low’ acid, but basically your stomach’s digestive struggle splashes whatever acid you have towards your esophagus. Giving you (and your doctor) the impression that you have too much stomach acid.

The sad part is, it’s usually treated with medication to reduce the acidity in your gut; only making future digestion (and overall gut health) worse.

The Digestion Test

Whether you feel like you’re struggling with digestion or not, you’ll want to try this test, as it costs next to nothing and you can administer it on yourself. Plus, failing it means you’re not absorbing the nutrients in your food (B12, iron, and zinc), and potentially permitting bacterial overgrowth in your gut.

The first step is buying a hydrochloric acid (HCL) supplement.

Next, you want to make sure you FULLY understand these 3 points:

  • The test is only performed at a meal with a significant amount of protein (usually lunch and dinner)
  • Each advancement in capsules (ex: 1 to 2) happens at next main meal (not the same one!)
  • Stop progressing to more caps when you feel a burn or reach 6 capsules

And finally, here’s the protocol:

  1. Eat half of the protein in your meal first (ex: half of a chicken breast)
  2. Take capsule(s), starting with 1
  3. Eat rest of protein + remainder of meal
  4. If you feel burn (like heartburn, warm sensation) within 10-15 minutes of taking capsules, STOP THE TEST
  5. If you donʼt feel burn within 10-15 minutes repeat steps 1-3 AT YOUR NEXT MAIN MEAL, adding 1 more capsule (up to a maximum of 6)
  6. Once you’ve found the proper dosage for you (1 cap less than when you felt the burn). Stick with that dosage at main meals until you get the burn. Then lower dosage again by 1 cap and continue supplementing at that dosage.

guy taking hcl supplement with meal

Here’s how the scenario could play out:

  • Tuesday Dinner – Take 1 capsule. No burn.
  • Wednesday Lunch –Take 2 capsules. No burn.
  • Wednesday Dinner – Take 3 capsules. No burn.
  • Thursday Lunch – Take 4 capsules. Feel burn.
  • Thursday Dinner – Dose 3 capsules. No burn
  • Friday Lunch – Dose 3 capsules. No burn

….continue dosing 3 capsules at main ‘protein-containing’ meals

  • Lunch 2 weeks later – Dose 3 capsules. Feel burn.
  • Dinner – Dose 2 capsules. No burn

…continue dosing 2 capsules at main ‘protein-containing’ meals

Once you feel a burn at 1 capsule, you no longer have to take the HCL capsules. Although, you may want to try the test again in the future if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. Likewise, you may want to take the odd capsule after a very large or heavy meal (all-you-can-eat sushi?).

As you look to optimize your digestion, you should also try eating slower, chewing your food thoroughly, and avoiding beverages in and around meals.

Guzzling liquids when you’re eating is like throwing water on the fire.

Wait out the sensation to drink after meals, and let that digestive fire burn. If you’re looking for a little sip of something, opt for at shot of fish oil or a swig of apple cider vinegar.

Stay Lean!
Coach Mike


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