Many of us have experienced some painful and even outright embarrassing stomach problems during a workout. Most of these side-effects are related to gastrointestinal problems, which interfere with your fitness regime and prevent you from achieving your objective.
Simple dietary modifications and lifestyle changes can help you maintain a healthy digestive system and make your workout session enjoyable and fruitful. Here are some pointers that help you prevent the most common stomach-related problems during a workout.
Severe stomach cramps prevent you from hitting the gym and may cause extreme discomfort. Abdominal cramps may occur due to a variety of reasons. Indigestion, food poisoning, constipation, and gas are some of the common causes of abdominal cramps.
The symptoms of this condition can worsen when you consume greasy or rich foods, large quantities of fibrous foods such as raw fruits and vegetables, or even drinking carbonated beverages.
Solution: The best thing to do is to drink sufficient water and keep your body well hydrated. Drink about 20 oz. of water 3-4 hours before your workout and then again drink about 10 oz. of water half-an-hour before you begin your exercises.
Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs when the contents of your stomach are pushed back up into your esophagus resulting in heartburn, which is also called acid reflux.1 Heartburn usually occurs after a very heavy meal, or even if you eat very spicy or fried foods. Some citrus fruits and vegetables, and greasy foods are also to blame.
Solution: If you experience heartburn during a scheduled workout, the best thing you can do is to limit the exercises that require you to lie down. Drink half a cup of water to wash down the foods back into your system and rest for about 10 minutes. Avoiding the foods that cause irritation to your stomach is crucial to prevent heartburn.
Passing wind in an enclosed place like a gym attracts dirty looks from others. Reducing the intake of high-fiber foods is important to prevent the formation of gas. Many studies have shown that fibrous foods can lead to gas formation and limiting the intake of such foods helps reduce gas.2
Solution: Avoid eating a fiber-rich diet especially four hours before your workout. Even fried foods, high-fat foods, and carbonated or fizzy drinks can lead to gas formation. So, before a workout session, consume foods that are low in fiber and that can be digested easily.
4. Sudden Bowel Movements
Some people feel the urge to visit the restroom soon after they begin their exercises. One of the main causes for this is that your gastrointestinal system begins to do its job after a bit of a warm-up. A high fiber diet or fatty foods may sometimes result in diarrhea.
Solution: A light intake of a balanced diet a couple of hours before your workout should prevent any tummy troubles. A frequent urge to urinate may be an indication that you are drinking too much of fluids. Limit your fluid intake to under 22 oz. two hours before a workout.
Bloating is generally associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders or organic diseases, but it may also appear alone. Bloating may be caused because of consuming too much food, or junk foods, excessive dairy products, or even because of an overgrowth of the gut bacteria.3 Although certain medications can help relieve bloating, you can reduce the severity just by controlling your diet.
Solution: Allocate an hour for digesting a pre-workout snack consisting of around 200 calories. If you consume foods amounting to about 300 calories, you must ensure that your digestive system has about 3-4 hours to do its job.
The timing of the feeling of nausea is vital to ascertain the actual cause. For instance, nausea or vomiting shortly after a meal may be due to gastritis, an ulcer, or bulimia. Whereas, nausea or vomiting that occurs one to eight hours after a meal may indicate food poisoning. Nausea is often confused with low blood sugar or blood pressure issues. Sometimes, nausea may also occur if your energy level is down and you try to workout hard and overexert yourself.
Solution: Before your workout session, ensure that you don’t overeat or eat too little. Thirty minutes before your workout, drink a glass of fresh fruit juice or munch on some raisins. Even a banana can instantly boost your energy levels.
Experiencing indigestion during a workout can spell disaster. Indigestion is caused due to many factors such as eating too fast or too much or even eating spicy, fatty or greasy foods.4
Solution: Before your workout session, avoid foods that you can’t digest as it can lead to a stomach upset. Consume a balanced and a light diet that aids your fitness regime. If you have eaten a heavy meal even a couple of hours before your exercise, avoid the workout that could lead to abdominal pressure.
|↑1||Heartburn and GERD: Overview. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2015.|
|↑2||Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Gas in the Digestive Tract. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2016.|
|↑3||Seo, A. Young, Nayoung Kim, and Dong Hyun Oh. “Abdominal bloating: pathophysiology and treatment.” Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility 19, no. 4 (2013): 433.|
|↑4||Definition & Facts of Indigestion. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2016.|