Have you ever wondered how the food you eat transforms from steak or a muffin into the microscopic components your body uses to fuel all the tiny chemical reactions that keep you healthy and able to live your daily life without even thinking about them? An important part of the digestive process are enzymes just like lipase; read on to learn how they do fulfill their super important biological role.

What Is It?     

Lipase is not just one thing--rather, the term lipase refers to a category of enzymes that all function in a similar manner. Lipase enzymes act on the lipids (fats) in our body in various capacities.

What Is Its Biological Role?

The primary role of lipase [1] is to help us digest the fat in the foods we eat. Fat is not significantly affected by the acidic environment of your stomach; digestion of fats doesn’t really begin until they pass into the small intestine. Your pancreas produces lipase and transports it to the small intestine.

After the bile there has separated the fat into small, fatty globules, lipase can get to work breaking them down into the smallest possible components: fatty acids and glycerol. The fatty acids can then pass through the intestinal lining and eventually make their way to the bloodstream.

Lipases also work in the bloodstream to help regulate some of our body’s chemical reactions. In addition, lipase is responsible for packaging together our cholesterol. You see, the difference between “good” and “bad” cholesterol is what the free cholesterol is bound to. Lipase is the enzyme that does the binding, helping to regulate the transport of cholesterol throughout the body.

There are also extremely specialized types of lipase; an example of this would be phospholipase, which work to recycle the individual parts and membranes of dead cells so that new cells can be created and the parts not reusable can be excreted. Nerve cells are encased in lipid membranes, and lipase can act on these membranes as well.

In terms of your well-being, lipase act in your blood to ensure necessary biochemical reactions in many different areas happen when and how they should, and help to digest the fat you eat so that your body can use it to its advantage.

How Does It Help Bodybuilders and People Who Work Out?

When you think about fitness and maintaining a strong body, most people do not think about fats. If they do, they typically think only of how to avoid them. However, getting some fat in your diet is important for proper function of your body.

Lipase helps to completely digest the fat that you eat, allowing it to distribute throughout your body and avoid unpleasant symptoms of indigestion. While this is important for everyone, bodybuilders and elite athletes are especially concerned with their nutrition because it has a direct effect on their body composition and their ability to perform at peak levels.

Ensuring that you get as much nutrition as possible from your food is part of this, and the reason that lipase is commonly part of the enzymatic supplement blends that aid in digestion.

What Foods Contain It?

Our bodies do not usually have a problem producing the lipase we need for proper digestion. It is also naturally found in certain foods such as avocados, coconuts, and many types of sprouted seeds or legumes.

How Much Of It Do You Need?

Because it is naturally produced as part of the digestive process, there is no official recommendation for daily intake levels of lipase. However, if you are supplementing with lipase or a digestive enzyme blend containing lipase, it is best to simply follow the dosing instructions on the label.

These supplements use proprietary blends that do not always have the same amount of a specific enzyme across brands. As such it is impossible to give a standard dose, although most instruction will have you take the recommended dose about 30 minutes before eating a meal for optimal effect.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Much Of It?

Occasionally, the body will produce lipase in much higher amounts than it needs to function properly. This can results in a conditions called hyperlipasemia [2]. Hyperlipasemia is usually caused by another condition such as pancreatitis, and is cured by treating the root cause of the malady. There is little to no risk of hyperlipasemia from supplementation.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Little Of It?

The body may also produce inadequate amounts of lipase when the pancreas is not functioning properly, resulting in hypolipasemia [3]. Hypolipasemia can be caused by conditions such as cystic fibrosis that prevent the pancreas from properly secreting the enzymes it produces.

In such cases, supplementation may be beneficial to avoid problems with fat absorption.

Lipase is responsible for only a small part of the digestive process, and only a select few chemical reactions in the body. Without its help, though, the delicate machinery of our body would lose its harmony.


[1] Dr. Axe, Josh. Lipase: The Digestive Enzyme that Fights Major Diseases., 2015.

[2] Chemocare. Hyperlipasemia (High Blood Lipase Level)., 2015.

[3] Reference. What Does A Low Lipase Level Mean?., 2016.