MINIMISE GI UPSETS
WHEN IT MATTERS
Practical strategies worth practising prior to performing!
re gastrointestinal symptoms wreaking
havoc with your competing preventing
you from doing that killer performance
you have been training for? Well you are not alone!
Gastrointestinal symptoms are common and
estimated to occur in 30 – 70 % of athletes being
particularly common in ultra-endurance sport.
So how can you prevent these nasty symptoms
from occurring? Good question, which there is not
necessarily a single and simple answer for.
However, here are some nutrition tips for you to
work on that may help prevent your risk of
experiencing those dreaded symptoms.
Consuming solid food too close to the start of
exercise may increase your risk of upper
gastrointestinal symptoms such as belching,
regurgitation, heartburn and overall upper abdominal
discomfort. Trialling easier to digest, liquid nutrition
closer to exercise may be best advised. Test it out
and see if it works for you. Here is an example:
Low fat banana cornflake chocolate shake
¾ ¾ 1 x banana
¾ ¾ Low fat milk (lactose free if needed)
¾ ¾ Cornflakes or rice puffs
¾ ¾ Chocolate powder with some carbohydrates
Limiting your overall fibre, protein and fat intake in
your pre-exercise meal may help reduce the risk of
gut symptoms. For example, instead of choosing
your regular heavy and dense grainy bread for
breakfast, on competition day swapping this out
for a lower fibre bread may just help keep those
symptoms at bay. An example is low fibre
sourdough toast with a spread such as vegemite
or jam/maple syrup.
Oh and don’t forget to actually give your belly
some time to digest your pre-exercise meal -
general guidance here is ~2-3 hours. The bigger
the pre-event meal the more time you need to
digest it, and the more nervous you are, the longer
time you should allow.
Many athletes avoid foods high in fermentable
types of carbohydrates, which can be poorly
absorbed in some and lead to irritable bowel like
symptoms. These poorly absorbed carbohydrates
are referred to as FODMAPs. There is a high rate of
perceived symptom improvement in athletes
undertaking this dietary strategy. It is best you
speak to your qualified sports dietitian to guide
you on this and whether it is advised for you or not.