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The Stomach Acid or HCL TEST

A Simple, Non-Invasive Technique to Determine How Well Your Body Digests and Absorbs Nutrients.

“Over the last four years, I’ve been amazed how a correction in HCL deficiency has led to not only dramatic improvements in physique and strength, but also improvements in a variety of health parameters. Interestingly enough, in strength-trained individuals those improvements most often associated with gains of 15 to 18 pounds of lean body mass within two months.” – Charles Poliquin

I first learned about this test from world-renowned strength coach, Charles Poliquin. Soon after putting his tactics into effects with a number of my clients I noticed that many of them began sleeping better, grew stronger and as a result experienced fat loss and muscle gain at a faster rate than my clients who had not undergone HCL supplementation.

What is HCL?

HCL is Hydrochloric Acid. It is secreted into the stomach and plays a pivotal in digestion and absorbing of nutrients. When food is ingested it travels down the esophagus and enters the stomach where HCL breaks down the food into a mush-like substance. Then depending on what was ingested the “Partially-digested” food enters first part of the small intestine referred to as the duodenum. This is the site in the body where 90% of nutrient absorption occurs. However, absorption is only as efficient as the individual’s stomach acid. If HCL is low (Hypochloridia) or depleted (Achloridia) then absorption of proteins and minerals will be minimal.

Protein plays a key role in growth and recovery while minerals are critical in numerous progresses too extensive to list here. For instance, zinc and magnesium which are two of the most common mineral deficiencies are essential in detoxification, sleep, wound healing and hormone production. All of which are critical to build muscle, burn fat and have enough energy to live life.

Some side effects of HCL deficiency are:

  • Undigested food in stool
  • Foul-smelling stools
  • Stomach pain
  • Desire to skip meals
  • Estrogen buildup
  • Belching or gas within one hour of a meal
  • Bloating shorting after eating
  • Bad breath
  • Loss of taste for meat
  • Nausea after taking supplements
  • Brittle fingernails

How to Perform the HCL Test


This information is used to educate and inform clients about HCL. It is not meant to diagnose or replace the advice of a physician. Always consult your physician and have your client do the same before undertaking any exercise or nutrition program.

For illustration purposes, let’s say you are eating a meal that consists of grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables.

  1. Eat half of your protein source (chicken in this case)
  2. Take 1 capsule of HCL (200mg)
  3. Eat the other half of your chicken
  4. Then finish the vegetables
  5. Wait 15 minutes.
  6. If your feel like you did a shot of hot coffee than you have sufficient HCL levels. If you did not feel anything then repeat steps 1 through 5 increasing by 1 capsule each time until you feel the burning sensation. Do not exceed 7 capsules.

If you feel the discomfort at 4 capsules, then you will need to take 3 capsules with each meal. Once you begin to feel the slight burning sensation at 3 capsules then reduce to 2 capsules. Continue to reduce as needed. The amount of time required to restore HCL levels varies. I have seen some people go from 4 capsules to zero in a month while others take up to a year and a half.

There are many factors that contribute to low HCL levels one being stress (physical, mental and emotional). What this could mean is that someone who possesses a stressful work and/or family schedule may need to supplement with 1 or more capsules continuously until life becomes more manageable. Otherwise, digestion and nutrient absorption will not be optimal.