An educator with a passion for Nutrition and Fitness, Tulip is a certified Sports Nutritionist with a penchant for tweaking every recipe to make it healthier and tastier! She balances fitness classes at her studio, takes time off to blog for the Zumba Fitness Community of South Asia and doffs many other hats as she makes her way through the day!
Bill Rodgers, a marathon legend, with four victories in both the Boston and New York City marathons in the late 1970s, said, “More marathons are won or lost in the portable toilets than at the dinner table.”
Indeed gastrointestinal distress can cramp the style of any endurance runner. Here are a few more tips to deal with it.
PRACTICE THE PRE-EXERCISE MEAL
The food that you put into your stomach before your run can be a potential trigger for distress in the tummy with symptoms ranging from nausea, cramping, vomiting, bloating, gas and diarrhoea.
Endurance running delays emptying of solid food from the GI tract. Dietary fat and fibre also delays the digestive process. It would be sensible to eat a simple high-carbohydrate meal and yet keep it low fat and low fibre before an event so as to ensure a lighter digestive system. Make note of every food that you eat pre-run and see which combination suits you best. Experiment with the timing, consistency and temperature of your pre-run meal. For some runners, a soft Indian khichdi may ease digestion. But for others, eating hot food may be a trigger to empty the bowels. Once you have a ready reckoner of a list, you can just refer to it to plan your pre-marathon meal. This will save you from any last minute jitters and worries about eating the wrong food.
AVOID MILK PRODUCTS
Milk products contain lactose and even mild lactose intolerance can cause tummy troubles when running. Replace with soy milk or a nut milk.
Add in probiotics as they are known to help rebalance the good bacteria in your gut. Follow through with caution though as some brands are very high in sugar. Eating fermented food (idlis, dosas..) may help in balancing the good bacteria in the gut.
AVOID FOODS HIGH IN FRUCTOSE
Many drinks that contain fructose may cause tummy troubles. Additionally, many artificial sweeteners may also give you the runs.
MEDICATIONS AND SUPPLEMENTS
High intakes of vitamins, minerals, aspirin, antibiotics can increase GI distress. High doses of vitamin C, iron, magnesium and calcium can cause irritation in the digestive system.So, watch out for these before a race.
CHANGE ONE THING AT A TIME
Don’t make too many changes in your diet at one go. Else, you will never identify the food source that triggers off your stomach problems. Make one change in your diet at a time and note how your body feels. Give your body time to settle in with the changes you have made.
Lastly, evaluate whether overtraining, stress and inadequate rest are contributing to your GI problems. Any of these can play havoc with your nervous system and ultimately lead to GI distress.
Till next time, Eat healthy, say happy!