Gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort is not an uncommon problem for athletes during high intensity and endurance exercise. GI problems can be so server that they cause an athlete to cease exercise. If you’ve been training months for a race, the last reason you want for failing to reach your goals is GI discomfort! The common symptoms of GI discomfort during exercise include:
Urge to defecate
There are many causes for GI discomfort but we usually find that many incidents are a result of athletes using inappropriate hydration and fuelling strategies. Research has also shown that high intensity exercise can cause a redistribution of blood flow away from the gut alongside various hormonal and nervous activity changes that may lead to GI problems.
Athletes should carefully select the foods they choose to eat before a race and practice using them in training. Due to the time it takes to digest and process food (24-72 hours), careful consideration needs to be made about foods eaten in the few days before the race and not just on race day. A diet high in fibre and fat delays gastric emptying of foods and can cause an increase in GI problems. Foods and supplements that may cause GI problems in some individuals include:
High carbohydrate intake