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Test your Gut with the HCL Challenge

How often do you think about your stomach acid?


Probably not often enough, considering it’s important for maintaining good health, and especially for your body’s ability to digest and absorb food efficiently. Not only food but supplements too!  You have probably spent hundreds of dollars on supplements and fancy organic foods only to not be able to absorb them to their fullest extent! 

In my opinion, everyone should do a gut healing protocol, remove any known gut irritants for a while and take HCL before even considering taking supplements! Gut health is key to EVERYTHING!

Without enough stomach acid, food reaches the intestines improperly digested. Among other things, this means gas-forming bacteria will start to multiply super fast causing serious gas issues. Over time, low stomach acid can even lead to protein deficiency, which can then lead to all sorts of problems, like arthritis.

Good news is there’s an easy way to find out if you have low stomach acid: It’s the HCL Challenge!


Two great brands of HCL (Hydrochloric Acid) to use for this test include:






Heres the Challenge works:

Halfway through your dinner, take one tablet—400-600 mg—of HCL. Then go ahead and finish your meal.

 Wait 15 minutes. If you do not feel a burning, heartburn-like sensation in your chest, then you’re at least 400-600 mg HCL deficient.


Try again the next meal the next day with a higher dose of HCL (200 g higher than the day before). Wait and see again if that burning sensation happens. If not, continue this way until the HCL finally affects you via that burning sensation. Once it does, then back off by 1 capsule of HCL. This will become the dose of HCL you should take with each meal.


** However, do not exceed 1,400 mg of HCL. If you still don’t have a reaction at that point, this means your stomach acid production is extremely bad!


Before you start getting all nervous about whether or not you’re going to score well on this test, take note that in the 20-plus years strength sensei Charles Poliquin ( has put his athletes through this test, he has only seen two people pass the test with just 200 mg of HCL.


In fact, it is believed that 99 percent of people will fail the test at 200 mg. Think of the HCL challenge instead as a baseline measurement, and then as a way to improve your stomach acid production so you can digest and absorb your food more effectively.


Heres a second option that will cost next to nothing:

  • Mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in 4 to 6 ounces of cold water first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything else.
  • Time how long it takes you to burp.
  • If you haven’t belched within 5 minutes, stop the time.

 If your stomach is producing enough stomach acid, you’ll likely burp within two, max three minutes. If it takes you longer than three minutes, or you don’t burp at all, you most likely have low stomach acid.


This test doesn’t tell you how low, but if you’re low here, chances are you’re going to want to look into the problem a little more closely through the HCL challenge.


While we’re at it, here are some natural tips to fixing low stomach acid:

  • Healthy Diet:

Simply put, get off the processed foods!

  • Sauerkraut it up!

Fermented foods help digestion and keep pathogens at bay, helping you restore your gut bacteria and improve nutrient absorption. Some options of fermented foods include: Sauerkraut, Kombucha, yogurt, kimchi and pickles.

  • Get rid of the Antacids

It is believed Americans spend more than $13 billion on acid-stopping drugs each year to precent things like heartburn and acid reflux. If your stomach acid is low, it’s best to stop taking these drugs if they’re part of your routine right now.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

Add a swig of apple cider vinegar, or a digestive enzyme, to your morning routine. This will help signal your pancreas to create more stomach acid.


Happy gut health!

Ask your coach or Garth for help if you have questions regarding this topic