Have you ever had post-workout bloat?
We spoke to Clinical Nutritionist and gut expert Lee Holmes, from Mind and Bodee, who says that feelings of swelling and gas after a hard workout are more common than you think and, while it often goes down on its own, there are things you can do to beat the bloat and prevent it for your future workouts.
Why am I feeling bloating during/after my workout?
There are many reasons why you may experience bloating during or after a workout, including:
- Post-exercise repair – after a workout session our body will naturally try to repair inflammation by sending extra fluid to our muscle tissues – while vital to recovery, this can leave you feeling ‘heavy’ and bloated.
- Dehydration – when we’re dehydrated our stomach tries to compensate by trying to hold onto more liquid, leading to swelling in our belly as our body tries to retain as much water as possible.
- Overhydration – as weird as it sounds, too much water can also make us bloat. Drinking too much water as we exercise dilutes our sodium levels, causing our cells to retain more water leading to bloating and swelling..
- Pre-workout meals – if you eat before exercise your body will try to multitask by digesting your food and sending blood to your muscles. This makes your digestion become sluggish leading to the microbes in your gut releasing more gas to help break down your food.
- Breathing too hard – during a workout we breathe harder, leading us to suck in a lot of extra air that often ends up in our digestive system, not our lungs.
How can I treat post-workout bloating?
While post-workout bloating can leave you feeling very uncomfortable, it isn’t permanent and often goes away on its own naturally. However, there are things you can do to help relieve your symptoms and speed up the process:
- Replace the fluids you have lost during exercise to help restore your natural fluid balance – I recommend a minimum of 3 cups drunk slowly to prevent you from swallowing more air.
- Avoid post-workout meals or snacks that are fatty, sugary or fibrous, instead, stick to simple carbs and protein that are easy to digest and won’t contribute to further bloating such as greek yoghurt, eggs or lean meats.
- Incorporate stretches or massages into your post-workout cooldown that can help to get things moving in your digestive tract – for yoga moves I recommend the ‘Standing Forward Fold’ or ‘Seated Twist.’
How can I prevent post-workout bloating?
The best way to treat your post-workout bloating is to take action to prevent it; here are some easy things you can do before your workout to help reduce your risk of bloating:
- Eating 2 – 3 hours before your workout will fuel your body and also give your body time to digest the meal properly – stick to simple and easy-to-digest carbs and proteins such as greek yoghurt or eggs.
- Drink water 30–60 minutes before starting your workout. If you do drink during your workout take smaller sips.
- Practise regulating your breathing, slow and steady breaths are ideal and can help optimise your workout.
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