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Crohn's Disease Forum » Diet, Fitness, and Supplements » Fitness and Exercise » Can someone with Crohn's live a bodybuilding lifestyle?


 
01-13-2016, 01:35 PM   #31
SonjaX5
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Hi Bobby. I'm a 26 year old female diagnosed with crohns at age 15. I've recently had severe flare ups and am battling with joint pain. Because of prolonged prednisone use I'm overweight. Now off of prednisone I'm looking into finally going into bodybuilding to increase my strength and improve my physique. I imagine I have to lose all that fat first. I started at the gym while back with my obsession of becoming a Navy Nurse but that idea's long gone since my last flare up.I narely made it out of nursing school.Too much stress. Any reccomendations to start off? I honestly feel weak and don't know where to begin lol
My doctor said the same about the shakes bit they seem to forget everyone with Crohns tolerate different diets. What's food for me may be a trigger for the next. Thanks for sharing your experience I appreciate it.
01-13-2016, 03:27 PM   #32
InstantCoffee
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Hi Bobby. I'm a 26 year old female diagnosed with crohns at age 15. I've recently had severe flare ups and am battling with joint pain. Because of prolonged prednisone use I'm overweight. Now off of prednisone I'm looking into finally going into bodybuilding to increase my strength and improve my physique. I imagine I have to lose all that fat first. I started at the gym while back with my obsession of becoming a Navy Nurse but that idea's long gone since my last flare up.I narely made it out of nursing school.Too much stress. Any reccomendations to start off? I honestly feel weak and don't know where to begin lol
My doctor said the same about the shakes bit they seem to forget everyone with Crohns tolerate different diets. What's food for me may be a trigger for the next. Thanks for sharing your experience I appreciate it.
Considering this thread was started in 2012 and last posted in in 2014 I doubt the original posters are around.

Workout shakes are a supplement, they are not an enhancement, simply a replacement for real food. They don't do anything better than real food, and in many cases are bloated with simple sugars and artificial compounds that are hard on the body, especially for Crohn's considering many of them contain sucralose and maltodextrin which are both terrible for Crohn's.

If there's any workout supplements that I would recommend it would be creatine for weightlifting (pure creatine, unflavored) and L-glutamine (helps repair the gut, helps preserve muscle mass during times of starvation and extended physical stress).

Start off with light weights and know your limits. Work in pyramid sets.

Meaning if you're doing bench press for example, start with 50 lb.s and do it until you are JUST ABOUT to fail and stop with 1-2 reps still in the tank. Let's say for this example you did 18, you could probably do 20 if you pushed, but you're going to stop at 18.

Now add 5 lb.s to each side you you have 60lb.s on the bar. Rest until you're ready for another set.

You'll probably be able to do about 12 reps this time.

Add another 5 lb.s to each side.

Now you'll probably do around 8.

Once you hit a weight you can only do 5 reps with, start backwards taking 30% of the weight off each time.

This is basic pyramid training, it will help you to approach you limits in a well rounded way without over-stressing your joints.

I'm a strong believer that with Crohn's we need more rest time than a healthy individual. While the optimal routine for a healthy person to start working out is to do compound workouts 3x a week (i.e. squat, bench, row, deadlift on monday-wed-fri) I've been doing a workout focused on each body part 1 day a week.

Basically
Monday - arms
Tuesday - legs
Wed - rest
Thursday - Chest
Friday - back

Bodybuilding is largely about eating a surplus of calories in order to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to grow muscles, which is the hard part for someone with Crohn's. If you're new to working out, especially if you're overweight, you can gain muscle while losing fat, but after you put on 20-30 lb.s of lean body mass (muscle) you'll hit a wall and you'll need to eat more and gain some fat to gain muscle.

Unfortunately if you're on corticosteroids this works against you as it can decrease muscle strength and promote fat growth.

I knew a Crohn's patient online who took Anabolic Steroids with a crazy physique though, even by the standards of a healthy person using steroids.

As far as diet goes this is really hard to say as all Crohn's patients react to different things. Just make sure you're hitting a balance of macro nutrients of about 30% protein 50% carbs 20% fats.

You only need about 1 gram of protein per kg of lean body mass to gain muscle, anyone telling you more, or telling you 1 gram / lb is mislead. This is a very reasonable amount to hit without having to take shakes. Higher amounts can be really hard on someone with CD.
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01-13-2016, 08:41 PM   #33
Deliberate1
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Sonja, thank you for your thoughtful post. It gave me the opportunity to revisit what I wrote back in 2012 in response to a young man who was very much where you are right now. In large part, my thoughts remain as true today as they were back then. A vigorous exercise program is as important to my CD treatment "plan" and life as it was when I wrote those words.
Congratulations for taking this step. It is not easy. But it is so important. So much of our lives with CD is out of our control. The decision to maximize your overall level of fitness is something entirely in your hands. But it should be done in a way that facilitates success.
The lifting program outlined above is a good synopsis for someone striking out on their own. But that is a challenging path if you have little experience in the gym environment which can be very intimidating and frustrating. Technique is the most critical component of a successful, safe and satisfying lifting program. And it can be the most difficult aspect to master. And then there is the whole gym "thing" that can be off-putting for people just starting out. Having lifted for over 30 years, I have seen too many give it up because just being at the gym was an unpleasant and intimidating experience. Face it. If you do not feel comfortable, you will not go.
So let me suggest an alternative. I go to my local Gold's Gym. Three days a week I do a class called Body Pump. It is a full body workout. In an hour, we do 800-1000 reps, all to choreographed music. It is a blast. In this well-crafted program, you get a sensational workout. Low weights combined with high reps burns big calories and tones muscles. And that success will keep you coming back. But more than that, and most important, there is a sense of community in our class. It is fun. And that is the key to a successful fitness program. Period. No attitudes. While everyone is doing the same thing at the same time, each person decides how much weight to use. So everyone succeeds. The class is full - every time.
I have been doing this class three times a week for three years. On the other two days, I do an abs class and do heavier lifting in the weight room. I am pushing 60 and am in the best shape of my life. There are also classes dedicated to aerobics - "Sport Attack" - a choreographed aerobics program for even more calorie burning.
Again, while I do this at my local Golds, I am sure that whatever gym you go to will have similar classes. Check it out. Make it part of your life. The payback is priceless. But, I assure you, the key to success is not how much you lift. It is just getting to the gym. Sonja, perhaps you will find, as I have, that being part of a group that works out together may just be what you need to achieve the life-altering goal that you seek. It works for me.
I wish you all the best.
David
PS: As for protein supplements, I have tried more than my fair share. The best I have used (and still do) is an organic rice protein. Very easy to digest. No additives. Tastes a bit nasty so I mix it with a banana and peanut butter.
01-17-2016, 08:11 PM   #34
LabRat9
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Loudoun County, Virginia
Jumping in on this forum. 24 yrs old, diagnosed 7 years ago with 2 surgeries since (missing most of my small intestine and a good chunk of the large), lost 40 pounds then, 150 Lbs at 5'11" now. Currently on entocort, pentasa, Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), and my personal favorite - HGH. Been lifting for years off an on due to my Crohn's and a big time hockey player. I workout 2-3 times a week and am currently in my bulking stage for the next 5 weeks followed by a short cutting phase.
01-26-2016, 06:39 PM   #35
InstantCoffee
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Jumping in on this forum. 24 yrs old, diagnosed 7 years ago with 2 surgeries since (missing most of my small intestine and a good chunk of the large), lost 40 pounds then, 150 Lbs at 5'11" now. Currently on entocort, pentasa, Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), and my personal favorite - HGH. Been lifting for years off an on due to my Crohn's and a big time hockey player. I workout 2-3 times a week and am currently in my bulking stage for the next 5 weeks followed by a short cutting phase.
Is the HGH prescribed? Does it help?
That's interesting to me.

I was just reading about how testosterone can inhibit TNF-a and I'd bet many men with crohn's have low T. I'm going to look into getting tested and see about TRT.

If I end up low and they won't prescribe I might look at less than legal ways.
01-26-2016, 09:36 PM   #36
LabRat9
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Loudoun County, Virginia
Is the HGH prescribed? Does it help?
That's interesting to me.

I was just reading about how testosterone can inhibit TNF-a and I'd bet many men with crohn's have low T. I'm going to look into getting tested and see about TRT.

If I end up low and they won't prescribe I might look at less than legal ways.

Instant Coffee,

No it is not prescribed. I have had major issues with remicade and Humira which had debilitating effects on me. Part of those issues included drug induced lupus which gave me extreme pain and weakened joints. Due to my lack of exercise from weak joints there was a domino effect on my muscles and tendons. I have done plenty of research on HGH and how it can help people with short bowel and they have done tests on Crohn's. I have had surgery to remove a good portion of my small and large intestines so since my doc wouldn't prescribe it... I got it on my own. I used the Crohn's studies as a basis for my dosage which is fine since it is less than a body builder would use anyways. The answer to your question is yes! It has helped me greatly. GH along with inflagaurd a natural anti inflammatory, and LDN have been a great success. I am on a few other things but no major drugs or biologics and have never felt better. I also have done tons of research on T levels and Crohn's and how it affects TNF. I would recommend reading up on both HGH and T. I found quite a few reads on people using steroids with a T base and say its weird there chrobs is non existent when doing them. Steroids lower your immune system it is proven and therefore it seems easy to predict they help Crohn's while getting the benefit of getting ripped too. Unfortunately my family is prone to hair loss and I like mine so it will be awhile before I experiment with T. But HGH has been great!
01-26-2016, 09:40 PM   #37
LabRat9
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Loudoun County, Virginia
Sorry for the book. I've never spoke to other Chronies about what I'm doing and quite a bit of it is unorthodox to the doctors but my experiments are well researched and thus far have all been a success. Once I get hard evidence that these things have been working and judging by the way I feel I'm without a doubt. I will document it all somewhere to hopefully peak other Chronies interests and get people using safer methods that the biologics and other crap they pump us with
01-28-2016, 02:50 AM   #38
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Yess. I follow a couple bodybuilders with Crohn's. Even ones who wear a bag!
01-29-2016, 03:46 PM   #39
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Hi! I am a 22 year old female who was just diagnosed with Crohn's within the past month. However, I had been struggling with fissures, fistulas, and perianal abscesses for the last 1.5 years before diagnosis (crazy no one caught on, right?)
Anyway, before I started getting sick, I LOVED lifting and running. I mean taking pre-workout and 2 protein shakes every day, lifting relatively heavy weight, running half marathons. I have not been able to do that since I've had 8 colo-rectal surgeries.
Now that I am on Remicade and being treated, I was wondering if I could go back to those activities? Some people say exercise can greatly help but others note that heavy squatting or high-impact like running can cause flare-ups.
And can I take supps? Are there some supps that are bad for us CD-ers? Just a lost former-gym rat / new CD girl looking for ANY tips!
01-29-2016, 04:10 PM   #40
InstantCoffee
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Instant Coffee,

No it is not prescribed. I have had major issues with remicade and Humira which had debilitating effects on me. Part of those issues included drug induced lupus which gave me extreme pain and weakened joints. Due to my lack of exercise from weak joints there was a domino effect on my muscles and tendons. I have done plenty of research on HGH and how it can help people with short bowel and they have done tests on Crohn's. I have had surgery to remove a good portion of my small and large intestines so since my doc wouldn't prescribe it... I got it on my own. I used the Crohn's studies as a basis for my dosage which is fine since it is less than a body builder would use anyways. The answer to your question is yes! It has helped me greatly. GH along with inflagaurd a natural anti inflammatory, and LDN have been a great success. I am on a few other things but no major drugs or biologics and have never felt better. I also have done tons of research on T levels and Crohn's and how it affects TNF. I would recommend reading up on both HGH and T. I found quite a few reads on people using steroids with a T base and say its weird there chrobs is non existent when doing them. Steroids lower your immune system it is proven and therefore it seems easy to predict they help Crohn's while getting the benefit of getting ripped too. Unfortunately my family is prone to hair loss and I like mine so it will be awhile before I experiment with T. But HGH has been great!
There are ways around the hair loss. I was reading the other day that the active ingredients in vagisil can block DHT and many bodybuilders dillute it and use it on their scalp to reverse hairloss.

The side effect is reduced test, but since you'd already be artificially increasing yours above natural levels it wouldn't really matter.

You can also get it in nizarol shampoo I believe.
01-29-2016, 05:51 PM   #41
Cat-a-Tonic
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Hi hkspence, welcome to the forum. I'm a female fitness enthusiast myself so I can understand your frustration at having to be out of the gym for awhile. The short answer is, we're all different in terms of how our disease affects us, so you're going to have to do some trial and error and see what exercises work for you and what don't.

I can only tell you what's been working (and not) for me. I have arthritis in both hips (and maybe my knees now too) so I can't do anything high-impact. Jogging and sometimes even walking are just plain painful. Bicycling however is just fine (even with my monster hemorrhoids!) and I even got myself a road bike which I loooooove. I can also lift weights for the most part - I have severe GERD as well so I have a really hard time doing any sort of abdominal work (it just makes me reflux like crazy), so I tend to keep my focus more to arms, legs, etc and go easy on my abs.

I'm finding though that having some limitations actually opens me up to trying new things. I got back into kayaking after taking a few years break due to my illness, and found that my abdomen is just fine with it. It was so great to be back in my kayak again! I got back into ice skating as well and found that my joints are okay with that. I got some snowshoes and my joints are even okay with that. So, if you find that you can't do something fitness-wise that you used to love doing, try to reframe that as something positive and use that time to try a new type of fitness that you haven't done before or haven't done since before you got sick. That's been really successful for me.

As far as getting back into fitness - my advice is to take it slowly. Don't push yourself too hard at first. And don't compare yourself to anyone else, in particular do not compare yourself now to yourself before you got sick. Just because you were able to lift heavy and run 10+ miles before, that doesn't mean anything now. Even if you can only run 50 feet and lift a 1 lb weight now, believe me when I say - that's okay! Your body has changed completely and that means your abilities have as well, but it's okay. You'll slowly improve, although you may never get to where you were before (or, you may surpass where you were before). Just keep trying, but don't push yourself too hard at first because you need to find out what your new limitations are. You don't want to make things worse. And really, don't compare. There's no shame in not being able to do now what you did before. Just focus on what you can do and work from there.
02-01-2016, 12:35 PM   #42
wildbill_52280
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many protein shakes add artificial sweeteners which studies show have negative effects on bacteria in the intestines causing a state of unhealthy dysbiosis, which is considered the most important variable in crohn's disease now. aspartame, sucralose(splenda), saccharin,Acesulfame potassium.

IF you are trying to bulk up you will need lots of calories from not just protein but fat and carbs too, and be sure not to advanced your routine too quickly by adding more weight or sets etc, before you verify your body has adapted to the workout, I repeat the same extact workout for 2 weeks and see if it has become easier then the previous one and if im less sore after the second workout. I'm the workout seems harder and I'm still sore after the second workout which I should have adapted too, I know immediately that I'm not adapting and either I'm not getting enough calories, not getting enough rest, or working out too much. you should only increase your workout after you know you have adapted to the previous one, otherwise you are just breaking muscle down and not rebuilding it stronger. There is going to be a limit to how much muscle you can pack on though, most gains happen in the first 3 months i think, then it's much slower gains after that for about a year until you generally max out to your genetic limit, assuming you are doing everything right.
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02-02-2016, 11:53 AM   #43
Gerbskis
 
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Hey there! This is a wonderful question that I have many times asked, and honestly I'm still trying to figure out the answer. What I have learned over the past 10 years with this is that everyone is very different. But, I have been working out the best I can here at the university I attend and I experience the same thing you described. I attempt to eat more and work out hard in order to gain muscle, but the scale barely moves. Absorbing nutrients, especially protein, is harder when a person has Crohn's. I have noticed with my fitness activities that the workouts get easier and my body is starting to become more in shape, but I have a very difficult time putting on mass. I strongly believe that without the bulk and gains that a person with Crohn's benefits immensely from any type of physical activity. I know it may sound impossible to some because of energy levels and symptoms (trust me, I know), but I always say "Any progress is good progress. No matter how big or how small"!!! So whether it is a walk around the block or a five mile run, staying proactive feels great. It is something that is currently helping me deal and cope with my disease. Keep up the activity! On one hand your doc makes a good point about protein drinks. Some kinds of protein can have other things in it that your body may not agree with. However, I would not avoid them all together... That seems like very silly advice to me. I have notice the more natural/organic the ingredients, the easier it is on my body. Keep on keeping on!!!
02-09-2016, 01:08 AM   #44
LeafCrAzY
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Instant Coffee,

No it is not prescribed. I have had major issues with remicade and Humira which had debilitating effects on me. Part of those issues included drug induced lupus which gave me extreme pain and weakened joints. Due to my lack of exercise from weak joints there was a domino effect on my muscles and tendons. I have done plenty of research on HGH and how it can help people with short bowel and they have done tests on Crohn's. I have had surgery to remove a good portion of my small and large intestines so since my doc wouldn't prescribe it... I got it on my own. I used the Crohn's studies as a basis for my dosage which is fine since it is less than a body builder would use anyways. The answer to your question is yes! It has helped me greatly. GH along with inflagaurd a natural anti inflammatory, and LDN have been a great success. I am on a few other things but no major drugs or biologics and have never felt better. I also have done tons of research on T levels and Crohn's and how it affects TNF. I would recommend reading up on both HGH and T. I found quite a few reads on people using steroids with a T base and say its weird there chrobs is non existent when doing them. Steroids lower your immune system it is proven and therefore it seems easy to predict they help Crohn's while getting the benefit of getting ripped too. Unfortunately my family is prone to hair loss and I like mine so it will be awhile before I experiment with T. But HGH has been great!
I love seeing someone taking an alternative approach to this. The HGH cant be worse than any of the other potent drugs they put us on.
05-13-2016, 11:24 AM   #45
MmeMagpie
 
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Some people say exercise can greatly help but others note that heavy squatting or high-impact like running can cause flare-ups.
I don't know about running. I do know about power lifting. And, power lifting is incredibly hard on the central nervous system (especially heavy squats, because they engage so much of the body at once), which is then hard on our digestive systems. Power lifting also relies on physically tearing up our muscles in order to get stronger, which takes energy away from other necessary repairs.

When my calorie intake went down the drain because of new, restricted diets, I switched over to figure from power. Trainer even threw in some yoga moves that made my back sing the song of pain louder than my first 200# deadlift. So, yeah, hypertrophy isn't for the weak. Just trading DOMS for lactic acid buildup.

Looks like this thread is alive again! I plan on having a lot to say, because I will be back in the gym once this stupid low-residue nutritional and calorie wasteland of a diet is over.
06-07-2016, 11:31 AM   #46
Anonymous77
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
I see no reason why you couldn't - i took time off whilst ill and awaiting a diagnosis but soon as medication allowed me to gain weight and energy again, and joint pain faded I got back to it.

Don't bother with protein shakes as they are a waste of cash for everyone - a healthy, meat-filled diet has enough protein for building purposes.

You will probably have to accept more frustrations than a normal person when a flare causes you to lose weight and joints get sore. You might also have specific foods you avoid which are otherwise useful for bodybuilding (i had to say goodbye to milk and greek yoghurt).

If anything in my mind building up a reserve of mass when you are healthy will probably serve you well for flares.
06-14-2016, 04:05 PM   #47
Scared1
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Join Date: Apr 2016
Hi Bobby. I'm a 26 year old female diagnosed with crohns at age 15. I've recently had severe flare ups and am battling with joint pain. Because of prolonged prednisone use I'm overweight. Now off of prednisone I'm looking into finally going into bodybuilding to increase my strength and improve my physique. I imagine I have to lose all that fat first. I started at the gym while back with my obsession of becoming a Navy Nurse but that idea's long gone since my last flare up.I narely made it out of nursing school.Too much stress. Any reccomendations to start off? I honestly feel weak and don't know where to begin lol
My doctor said the same about the shakes bit they seem to forget everyone with Crohns tolerate different diets. What's food for me may be a trigger for the next. Thanks for sharing your experience I appreciate it.
Hi SonjaX5 - here are some great links with bodybuilders that have Crohn's and are in a shape I can only dream of!

Stephanie Buckland: http://www.simplyshredded.com/steph-buckland.html
And look up Jamin Thompson who also has Crohn's.
06-24-2016, 09:08 PM   #48
SonjaX5
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Thankyou very much for your response. It helps alot I've been doing cardio for a while and saw this just in time for weight training. Thanks!!


Considering this thread was started in 2012 and last posted in in 2014 I doubt the original posters are around.

Workout shakes are a supplement, they are not an enhancement, simply a replacement for real food. They don't do anything better than real food, and in many cases are bloated with simple sugars and artificial compounds that are hard on the body, especially for Crohn's considering many of them contain sucralose and maltodextrin which are both terrible for Crohn's.

If there's any workout supplements that I would recommend it would be creatine for weightlifting (pure creatine, unflavored) and L-glutamine (helps repair the gut, helps preserve muscle mass during times of starvation and extended physical stress).

Start off with light weights and know your limits. Work in pyramid sets.

Meaning if you're doing bench press for example, start with 50 lb.s and do it until you are JUST ABOUT to fail and stop with 1-2 reps still in the tank. Let's say for this example you did 18, you could probably do 20 if you pushed, but you're going to stop at 18.

Now add 5 lb.s to each side you you have 60lb.s on the bar. Rest until you're ready for another set.

You'll probably be able to do about 12 reps this time.

Add another 5 lb.s to each side.

Now you'll probably do around 8.

Once you hit a weight you can only do 5 reps with, start backwards taking 30% of the weight off each time.

This is basic pyramid training, it will help you to approach you limits in a well rounded way without over-stressing your joints.

I'm a strong believer that with Crohn's we need more rest time than a healthy individual. While the optimal routine for a healthy person to start working out is to do compound workouts 3x a week (i.e. squat, bench, row, deadlift on monday-wed-fri) I've been doing a workout focused on each body part 1 day a week.

Basically
Monday - arms
Tuesday - legs
Wed - rest
Thursday - Chest
Friday - back

Bodybuilding is largely about eating a surplus of calories in order to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to grow muscles, which is the hard part for someone with Crohn's. If you're new to working out, especially if you're overweight, you can gain muscle while losing fat, but after you put on 20-30 lb.s of lean body mass (muscle) you'll hit a wall and you'll need to eat more and gain some fat to gain muscle.

Unfortunately if you're on corticosteroids this works against you as it can decrease muscle strength and promote fat growth.

I knew a Crohn's patient online who took Anabolic Steroids with a crazy physique though, even by the standards of a healthy person using steroids.

As far as diet goes this is really hard to say as all Crohn's patients react to different things. Just make sure you're hitting a balance of macro nutrients of about 30% protein 50% carbs 20% fats.

You only need about 1 gram of protein per kg of lean body mass to gain muscle, anyone telling you more, or telling you 1 gram / lb is mislead. This is a very reasonable amount to hit without having to take shakes. Higher amounts can be really hard on someone with CD.
07-14-2016, 02:41 PM   #49
Keno132
 
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You can lead one.

I have a blog/guide I started up that might help you. Still a work in progress. But I've dealt with crohns and bodybuilders, both from the trainers stand point and compeditors side in my past. It's a lot more work than someone without GI issues, but not impossible
Good luck!

Last edited by Keno132; 07-14-2016 at 02:57 PM.
03-15-2017, 04:42 PM   #50
crohns4ever
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Sure you can I'm a Wright lifter and I eat gluten free high protein diet. I bulk up pretty good no need to eat ton of carbs. Just make a plan and stick to it. Good luck...
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