Upset Stomach after Exercise by Mina Leslie-Wujastyk

Do you get an upset stomach when you exercise? Here are some tips from Lattice coach and nutritionist Mina.

Female athletes report higher incidences of gastrointestinal distress which can be affected also by the menstrual cycle. This is more prevalent (and documented) in endurance exercise like marathons, but it may be a consideration for some climbers who want to know how to avoid these pesky symptoms at the crag.

Research is limited but there are a few guidelines to consider;

1- It may be worth reducing your intake of high fibre foods on the day of or even days before an event/big day out (or perhaps a competition). This helps reduce the contents of the bowel without any energy restriction. Remember though, outside of specific windows like this to reduce discomfort fibre is your friend and helps keep you regular.

2- Use of medication like aspirin or ibuprofen have been shown to increase the permeability of the intestines and may increase GI complaints. Consider avoiding use around performance days if GI distress is an issue for you.

3- Keep hydrated! Dehydration can make GI distress worse so ensure that you start the day well hydrated.

4- When you ingest carbohydrates, have them with water. This helps the osmolalities in your stomach from going too high which can cause water to draw into the GI tract.

5- Training the gut! Research shows that our guts are trainable. So rather than thinking “I just can’t eat much when I exercise” if you get GI upset, consider how you can slowly build up your gut’s tolerance to food intake over time. Practice!

~ Mina Leslie-Wujastyk