Bloat, gas, and trots... oh my! Stomach issues on the run
Ever have stomach issues while running? 🙋🏼♀️ I know I have!
What about bloat after you're done? No fun, right?
I know I don't voluntarily sign up for any of it!
But many of us experience intestinal and digestive problems on the run. You could end up super bloated. You could have the dreaded "runner's trots". You could have cramps galore. Not only is it unpleasant and makes for a less-than-ideal running experience, it can be seriously upsetting and be a hindrance to your training if it becomes a chronic and persistent issue.
The fun (ha! note the sarcasm here) thing is that everybody's body is different. Which is great, right? But also means that there are several potential causes for your stomach issues and you might have to play detective to figure out which one(s) are causing you the most issues.
That said, here are some of the most common reasons that runners experience GI upset.
It could be caused by what you're eating
Foods high in fat take longer to digest. If you're eating something high in fat too soon before a run, you're likely to have some GI distress. Plus, anything super greasy or fried can cause issues -- and you could be needing a pit stop or two.
Fiber is a common culprit! While we need fiber in our diet, it often doesn't sit well if we eat it right before a run. Our bodies don't digest fiber the way we do proteins, carbs, or fat. However, some of the bacteria in our guts like to snack on fibers, and they create gas. Plus, some types of fiber absorb water, which can further your bloating symptoms. Too much or too little fiber in your overall daily diet, or too much fiber shortly before a run, often leads to stomach upset, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
Some people are sensitive to artificial sweeteners, like aspartame or Sucralose or saccharin. Try eliminating artificial sweeteners in your diet to see if that makes a difference!
Watch out for spicy foods, especially if you don't eat them often.
Alcohol and caffeine can also lead to bloating for some people, especially if consumed shortly before or during a run.
Lactose intolerant? Bloating, gas, and diarrhea are common side effects of eating dairy foods that contain lactose. If you're extra bloated after a bowl of cereal with milk, this could be a culprit.
Be mindful of when you're eating before you go running
While showing up to a run well-fueled is a great plan, showing up to a run with a full belly shortly after a meal is not. The more time you have between when you eat and when you run, the more of a normal meal you can eat. But if you're limited on time, eat something simple to digest or you're more likely to have stomach issues.
Being properly hydrated plays a big role too!
If you don't start a run well hydrated, you're more likely to have gastrointestinal distress on the run. The same goes if you become dehydrated while you're running. Dehydration leads to less blood flow to your gut, which causes issues and distress for many runners.
Watch out for concentrated sugar supplements, gels, and drinks
While you need to be consuming adequate carbs for energy before a run or on a long run, choosing options that are too concentrated in sugar can cause distress and leave you running to the nearest bathroom.
Things like sports gels and chews need to be taken with water because of their concentrated sugar content. The same would go with drinking something like an energy drink or 100% juice - the sugar concentration is too high for your body to handle. Make it easier on your stomach by chasing those things with some swigs of water!
Try slowing down
It isn't fun to hear, but sometimes your body just doesn't want to run or move in such an intense manner and it is letting you know!
Be careful you aren't swallowing air
Carbonated beverages and using straws can lead to gas, bloat, burping... no fun! You might also be swallowing air on the run if you are taking in fuel too fast - sometimes stopping to take a gel and a sip of water can help!
Hormones, stress, and medical issues
These can all lead to GI distress as well. If you've eliminated dietary causes and you're hydrated and you're consistently having stomach issues, it might be time to talk to your physician and a sports dietitian.
It is never fun to have stomach or digestive issues, especially when you're running. But by making some tweaks to your diet - what you eat, when you eat it, and even how you eat it - you can likely eliminate or at least decrease lots of of your symptoms!
The good news is that I help runners like you do just that. If you want to increase your energy, run easier and faster, improve your endurance, get rid of stomach issues, and feel better overall then Schedule your runner's nutrition strategy call. I'll help you to get on the right path so that you can reach ALL your goals.