Listen To Your Gut

Tuesday already so this means we’re talking nutrition, food and fuelling.

Today we have a guest blog post from Elizabeth (Beth) Mansfield, MSc, RD. Beth is a Registered Dietitian, CSEP-Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist and sport nutrition specialist. Through her company Peak Performance ( she specializes in bridging the gap between the sciences of nutrition and exercise and the practices of healthy eating and active living.

Beth integrates sport nutrition into training programs for athletes competing at the international, national, provincial, regional levels. She is currently working on her PhD at McGill University to answer the question: Does exercise  attenuate age related weight gain in vigorously active women?

Is Your Gut Giving you Distress?

Gastrointestinal discomfort (heartburn, bloating, gas pains) and upset (diarrhea, constipation, vomiting) can interfere not only with your cycling performance but also your enjoyment of being out on the bike. Risk factors for many of these gastrointestinal problems include high intensity interval or race pace training, being relatively unfit for the volume or intensity of the effort you want to make, moderate to severe levels of dehydration and what you eat before and during your training sessions.

Distress High Risk Foods/Habits What You Can do
Gastro-esophageal reflux (also known as heartburn) Fatty and spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate. Large volumes of food.
Lying down after a big meal.
Keep away from these foods on the day of or hours before working out. Eat smaller meals.
Sit up or keep moving after a big meal rather than lying on the couch/going to bed.
Diarrhea or bowel upsets during exercise Caffeine; fructose rich foods (fruit juice, dried fruit, fruit in syrup); high-fiber foods; lactose-rich foods (milk, ice cream); excessive intakes of fatty foods and/or protein rich foods Experiment to see if any of these high risk foods make the diarrhea worse when taken in the hours BEFORE training.
Ensure that the last solid food is eaten at least 3 hours BEFORE training. Try liquid meals for pre-event nutrition. Try a low reside (low fibre) diet the day/evening before an important event (race).
General gastrointestinal upset. Vomiting Delayed drinking during training leading to dehydration Make a fluid strategy and stick to it.
Bloating, gas pains, general gastrointestinal discomfort High fiber foods (high fiber cereal bars, breads, fruits), concentrated carbohydrate and caffeinated drinks (eg soda pop, Red Bull, some sport drinks) Experiment with diluted mixes of carbohydrate rich drinks (e.g. 4:1 mixes of water with fruit juice) and gradually increase the concentration up to what you can tolerate.
Experiment with high fiber foods during tough training sessions to determine what you can tolerate (or not!)

Persistent and severe problems means that you should see your physician for a referral to a gastroenterologist to make sure that you do not have a more serious issue such as celiac or irritable bowel diseases, gastritis, ulcers, or ulcerative colitis.

Beth will be posting regularly in this space about food, nutrition and fuelling. Be sure to visit her website and to follow her on Twitter.