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WHAT IS RUNNER’S GUT AND HOW DO I REDUCE THE RISK?





WHAT IS RUNNERS GUT?

This is a very common occurrence among endurance athletes particularly in runners.


Runners Gut refers to the gastrointestinal distress that occurs during endurance exercise. This results in cramping, bloating, diarrhea and sickness.


This can significantly hinder performance and be the difference between winning and losing a competition


RUNNERS GUT IS CAUSED BY:

1.Physical movement of the stomach and intestine, particularly  during running

2.Physiological strain due to a reduction in blood flow to the intestine

3.Nutritional factors such as hydration, fat and protein 



PHYSICAL MOVEMENT OF THE STOMACH AND INTESTINE DURING RUNNING

The running action causes a continual movement of the stomach and intestines which can increase the risk of gastrointestinal distress.


Lower abdominal pain is very common in runners, the only thing to help reduce these symptoms is to train regularly to help the body get used to this.


PHYSIOLOGICAL STRAIN DUE TO A REDUCTION IN BLOOD FLOW TO THE INTESTINE

During exercise, there is a redirection of blood flow from the stomach and intestine to the muscles to help maintain a high intensity running for longer.


This results in less oxygen and nutrients flowing to the intestine, leading to cramping. A lack of blood flow can also lead to nausea and diarrhoea.  


NUTRITIONAL FACTORS SUCH AS HYDRATION, FAT AND PROTEIN 


What you eat, when you eat and how much you eat as well as drink can significantly impact the risk of ‘runners gut’.


MEAL TIMING: Eating too much too soon before exercise reduces the time for the stomach to digest the food eaten


TYPE OF FOOD: Consuming high fat, high fibre meals take longer to digest and therefore not recommended before exercise.


HYDRATION: Starting exercise in a dehydrated state increases the risk of nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. In addition to this, consuming high concentration sports drinks also have the same effect



4 TIPS TO HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF

‘RUNNERS GUT’


1.STAY HYDRATED – Starting exercise in dehydrated state may increase the risk of upset stomach


2.PRACTICE YOUR NUTRITION – Practice with gels, drinks and other foods that you plan to use during race day to help train your gut


3.MEAL TIMING – Eating a meal too close to exercise reduces the time to digest the meal. A good guide is main meals 2 to 3 hours before exercise star


4.FOOD TYPE – Avoid high fat, high fibre and protein meals just before exercise to help reduce the risk of upset stomach



I hope you found this useful, if you have any questions or need support with your nutrition, drop me a message to see how I can help


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