Don’t let Gastrointestinal issues sideline you this racing season!

Don’t let Gastrointestinal issues sideline you this racing season!

Gastrointestinal issues in runners are more common than you think.

Do you frequently feel the need to find a toilet when out for a run, or experience wind, reflux, bloating, nausea, or even vomiting? You’re not alone. The good news is that with a few small tweaks to your race routine, you can stop any Gastrointestinal (GI) issues.

Gastrointestinal issues are common in runners and are frequently reported by athletes who take part in endurance events that involve running, cycling or triathlon. Causes for GI issues are multifactorial and can come from altered gut function, dehydration, food intolerance or not getting food or fluid timing, type or volume right in the lead up to, or during, your run.

When we start exercising, oxygenrich blood is redistributed from the GI tract to your working muscles. This lack of blood flow can lead to GI upset and is often exacerbated in endurance events that are held in hot weather, which can lead to overheating and dehydration.

GI issues can also be caused by food intolerance or consuming foods that are high in fibre, protein or fat that are slow to empty from the stomach. The timing and volume of your food and fluid consumption, pre-exercise, may also be a cause—it is possible to overfeed and overdrink. intraining’s top tips for reducing GI issues:

  • start exercise hydrated and avoid dehydration and overhydration while exercising
  • if eating prior to exercise, allow time for digestion
  • consider reducing the fibre, fat or protein content of foods consumed before or during exercise
  • practice your race-day nutrition and hydration in training, before the big day. This is crucial—it will ensure you have time to find out what works best for you, plus there is evidence that you can train the gut to better tolerate carbohydrates during exercise.

Liz Lovering, accredited sports dietician, chef, runner and coach.

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