Settle your stomach before your next run.
Gastrointestinal complaints are paramount among runners. But it’s not just mid-run stomachaches or bathroom breaks that can plague athletes. Exercise-induced nausea can make it hard to get out the door.
“Those who engage in intense bicycling, high-intensity training, marathons, and triathlons are at higher risk for [exercise induced nausea],” says Dr Robert Glatter. And those who have a history of GERD (or acid reflux) are at an even higher risk, thanks to excess pressure on your core, he says.
According to a 2013 study published in Gastroenterology Review, exercise-induced nausea can happen in athletes episodically after high-intensity or strenuous training. This nausea can turn in to vomiting, unless there’s some relief, like slow and deep abdominal breathing and application of a cool compress to the forehead or back of your neck.
Why does this happen? “Exercise-induced nausea results from reduced blood flow to the stomach during intense exercise, as blood flow is directed to more critical organs, such as the heart, lungs and brain,” says Glatter.
There are a few other causes, some being more severe than others. For starters, it could be physiological, coming from a functional disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome. It could also be tied to factors like types of exercise, climate conditions, duration and intensity, and hydration status.
Nausea may even occur if you start and stop running too abruptly. “Your stomach is not ready for the sudden level of deceleration in the intensity of the exercise. It’s best to gradually slow your pace as you finish your run or cross the finish line,” says Glatter.
It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience nausea if you have not yet discussed it with your doctor. But once you’ve been able to tie nausea to exercise, there are foods that can help prevent or lessen it.
The herb is known for quieting an upset stomach, and it may help relieve mid-workout nausea, too. “Eat a few ginger biscuits prior to exercise to reap the benefits of both the ginger and the carbohydrate,” says dietitian Vanessa Voltolina LaBue. “Or carry a few chewy ginger candies during a run or workout.”
“Starchy foods, such as crackers and pretzels, can help absorb stomach acid and ease nausea,” says LaBue.
Eat a handful of plain crackers about 30 minutes before your run.
While these are high in fat, which can upset the stomach before exercise, small portions, may help reduce nausea, thanks to its sodium content.
Runners can be hit with nausea when their glycogen stores are too low.
“Complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, act as time-release energy capsules, slowly releasing energy into your bloodstream and helping to keep your appetite satisfied,” says dietitian Julene Stassou, author of The Mediterranean Diet Weight Loss Solution.
Good sources are quinoa, barley, brown rice, and oats.
This beverage is an excellent source of electrolytes, which can help reduce feelings of nausea.
“Coconut water is a great way to rehydrate the body during and after exercise,” says Stassou.
It is a good source of potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium and phosphorus, which are electrolytes you can lose through your sweat.
If you eat Greek or Icelandic yoghurt you’re getting gut-friendly probiotics to help keep nausea and stomach problems at bay.
Try a small helping of these yoghurts before heading out the door or when you feel nausea coming on. Regularly consuming yoghurt or taking a probiotic can help reduce your risk of exercise-induced nausea, says Stassou.