written by runnergirl training
Stomach and gastrointestinal (GI) problems can strike at some of the worst moments. During and after a run or workout being bombarded with stomach cramps or running for the nearest bathroom can really put a damper on things. Let’s examine common culprits and how to avoid them occurring.
Cause number one is too little or too much fiber intake. Both too little and too much fiber can cause constipation which can cause stomach and GI tract cramps. Too much fiber can also cause diarrhea also affectingly known as the runner’s trots. Here is a fiber calculator to help determine a starting point for your fiber needs. You may find you personally need more or less and remember to gradually make adjustments to fiber intake. The GI tract is sensitive to drastic fiber changes.
Cause number two is not eating or eating difficult to digest foods. Some people can tolerate exercise on an empty stomach. Other people need to have some food before working out. The time of day can also be a factor on eating beforehand. If you need to eat before an early morning workout most experts agree to keep it under 300 calories. Light snacks of carbohydrates such as toast, crackers or part of a protein or granola bar are all great options.
Cause number three is exercising too soon after eating a large meal. It is recommended to wait an hour after a light meal and two to three hours after a heavy meal. Digestion can take a while and running with a sloshing stomach means digestion has halted to push blood to the working muscles. The results are stomach or GI cramps, pain, heartburn, gas, etc.
Cause number four is an ongoing stomach or GI problem. Perhaps you have been dealing with symptoms of gas, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or heartburn for a while and it is a nuisance in your life. You should consult with your doctor to check for GERD, IBS, IBD or other stomach and GI problems. Living with chronic stomach distress is exhausting and saps the joy out of life. Also, a diet change may help too. Consider temporarily removing common problematic foods such as dairy, wheat, soy and high sugar and see if your gut feels better. There is also a beneficial diet called FODMAP, which removes certain foods that breakdown into sugars that feed the bad gut bacteria. Again, check with a doctor before making a dietary overhaul.
Hopefully these suggestions will spare you future stomach and GI problems. It really is a wonderful thing to have a happy gut when working out!