The best way to find out why people who exercise in the gym with weights are using enzyme supplements is to go directly to the medical research and find out what type of results are recorded.
Researchers at the Exercise and Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory at Baylor University in Waco, Texas tested the effects of a protease supplement on subjects exercising their quadriceps muscles. A protease supplement is an enzyme supplement that breaks down protein.
The specific supplement they used was one derived from fungi and contained bromelain and papain. The volunteers in the study took two protease tablets daily. The supplement contained 325 mg pancreatic enzymes, 75 mg trypsin, 50 mg papain, 50 mg bromelain, 10 mg amylase, 10 mg lipase, 10 mg lysozyme, and 2 mg chymotrypsin.
The subjects consumed the supplements starting one day before exercise and then three additional days. A group of other subjects consumed a placebo made of cellulose. The researchers tested the circulating white blood cells, inflammatory compounds, and VO2 max of both groups of subjects both before and after the trials began. The exercise the subjects were required to perform was a 45-minute workout on a treadmill at 60% of their VO2 capacity.
The subjects who took the enzyme supplements had higher levels of white blood cells, lower levels of inflammatory compounds and less strength losses after exercise. They also had less delayed onset muscle soreness compared to the placebo group.
The researchers at Baylor University concluded that protease supplementation seems to attenuate muscle strength losses by regulating both inflammation and the white blood cell activity in the body. The research was reported in Medical Science Sports Exercise, October 2009.
Enzyme supplements are usually taken to improve digestion in the body. However, we know that they also provide additional benefits to the body such as decreased inflammation, and improved immunity. In this case, we see that the researchers applied the knowledge of how enzymes could decrease inflammation to the situation where there is known inflammation in the body – from exercise.
They found good results and results that may not have been expected by the average person.
How you personally interpret this information is up to you. If you have a strong science background, your education will have taught you to say that more studies are needed to confirm the results. If you have an open mind to supplements that could increase your optimal performance, you might try enzyme supplements yourself and see what happens to you after working out. Do you have the same amount of muscle soreness you would have without taking the supplements? The only way to find out is to try.