Digestion Tips For Athletes

By: GI Alliance


Spring has sprung. While you can’t wait to take advantage of the long days and get moving, we want to make sure your digestion can keep up with your hot feet. Just as it strengthens your muscles, regular exercise, along with a diet high in fiber, can strengthen the digestive system over time.

Allow 2-3 hours after a meal for digestion before vigorous activity

While cardiovascular activity has been shown to strengthen core muscles and stimulate intestinal muscles to move contents through the digestive system, exercising too soon after a meal can increase stress on your digestion and result in flatulence, nausea, and other forms of gastric distress.

Vary your exercise routine

Light exercise that promotes stretching, such as yoga or pilates, can ease your digestive tract and reduce stress. Consider incorporating yoga, pilates, or light stretching into your training routine during your rest days.

Stay hydrated (but beware of hyponatremia)

You’ve heard—and try to adhere to—the old “8 glasses of water”. That’s a fine place to start, especially if you’re chronically dehydrated. But if you’re participating in high-intensity exercise—like running—in the heat of the Louisiana summer, it is vital that you rehydrate correctly. Overconsumption of water following excessive sweating can result in hyponatremia, a condition in which the sodium levels in the blood drop dangerously low. Symptoms of hyponatremia include:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Loss of energy and fatigue
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • Seizures
Hyponatremia, if left untreated can result in coma and even death. To rehydrate properly, listen to your body—the best indicator of dehydration is thirst! And consult with a digestive health expert about which sports drink will properly replenish your body’s electrolytes.

Save the fiber for after your run

Before your run, eat easily digestible foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fats and fiber, such as bananas, oatmeal, or toast. Post-exercise, reach for slower-digesting foods that are relatively high in protein to Extreme exercise can exacerbate digestive disorders such as acute gastritis and GERD. If you are struggling with an existing digestive disorder, consult with a digestive health specialist before engaging in vigorous exercise, like running. Schedule a consultation with the digestive health experts at Gastroenterology Associates today!