For many runners, abdomen ache is a nagging fixed, and the perpetrator is commonly meals. “Runners with GI distress don’t necessarily have weak stomachs. They’re just eating the wrong things in the wrong amounts and at the wrong times,” says Tara Dellolacono, an ultrarunner, registered dietitian, and dietary strategist for Clif Bar.
Here’s the deal: Carbs are the physique’s greatest gas supply whereas exercising. For most, sticking to easy carbs—the sort which might be simple to digest and located in issues like gels, goos, and sweet—is one of the simplest ways to keep away from an upset abdomen. But even when following that rule, your physique can solely take up between 30 to 60 grams of the stuff per hour. “For newer folks, [the cause of their GI pain] is usually consuming too much at one time,” says Dellolacono. “They will start out empty and then slam a bunch of gels all at once to make up for it.”
The backside line: Treating a weak abdomen is a mixture of selecting the correct meals and the appropriate occasions to eat them. We’ve listed eight good issues to eat, together with recommendations on how and when to eat them.
Weird colours, weird textures, and questionable tastes apart, gels are nonetheless your greatest guess in relation to organising your abdomen for fulfillment. They’re simple to swallow, simple to digest, and used for vitality virtually instantly.
Don’t confuse the truth that gels can style dangerous (and that due to this fact you don’t crave them) with their propensity to sabotage your abdomen. “Cravings are tough,” says Matt Fitzgerald, nutritionist, coach, and writer of The Endurance Diet. “Cravings have been found to be very crude. Really, you just want calories and carbohydrates.” Gels have been engineered to provide the exercising physique precisely that, with the least quantity of resistance from the digestive system. The thought of consuming a gel could make you need to gag, however the actuality is that it’s your surest ticket to a pain-free abdomen.
Just don’t eat greater than 3 gels in an hour, or greater than 60 grams of carbohydrates. Doing so will overload your system, which is commonly what will get runners into bother.
If you’re continually battling a knotty abdomen, it is likely to be greatest to eat primarily liquids whereas working. Electrolyte mixes like Tailwind, Skratch Labs, and GU Roctane have been particularly designed to gas the physique in movement in essentially the most digestible type possible: liquid. “I’ve raced entire Ironmans on liquids,” says Fitzgerald, including that in additional than 30 years of racing, he’s by no means chewed whereas working.
Of course, hitting all your dietary necessities by way of electrolyte combine alone necessitates guzzling plenty of liquid. While Fitzgerald has discovered success with this technique, he says most athletes will profit from supplementing with gels. “I usually get all of my fluid needs from a carbohydrate drink, and then I make up the carbohydrate difference with gels.”
Performance gummies like Clif Shot Bloks or Honey Stinger Chews are loaded with the identical completely calibrated components as gels, simply in a smaller, denser type. This is an effective factor, says Dellolacono, as a result of whereas an entire package deal has extra energy than a gel, you possibly can merely break the chews off one after the other and dole out gas as wanted. “You can add them seven grams [of carbohydrates] at a time over the course of your training, and test it out on yourself and see how high you can get without an upset stomach,” she says.
Bananas are a traditional efficiency meals for good purpose. Most fruit is excessive in fructose, which in concentrated doses can upset the abdomen. But bananas have solely a reasonable quantity of the sugar, making them very best for in-race gas. However, they nonetheless have a decently excessive fiber content material, which may throw a wrench into the digestive processes. One banana earlier than a race or a chunk or 2 at an help station will seemingly be simply effective.
This could strike you as counterintuitive: Potatoes are cumbersome, wealthy, and filling. In different phrases, the very last thing you need whereas exercising. But in reasonable doses—maybe only a few bites or half of a spud—and with out the fatty toppings we normally affiliate with potatoes (butter, bitter cream, bacon), boiled potatoes with the pores and skin off and a little bit of salt for electrolyte steadiness is the kind of easy carbohydrate that can sit evenly within the abdomen and be absorbed shortly.
When boiled or roasted, candy potatoes have a creamy texture that make them simple to place down. But the explanation candy potatoes will play properly along with your abdomen is straightforward: It’s a fast-digesting carbohydrate. Potatoes, each common and candy, do include fiber, however plenty of that’s within the pores and skin. If you’re consuming 1 throughout or simply earlier than a race, make certain to peel your potatoes first.
While positively not as simple to eat as a boiled potato or gel, hard-baked snack pretzels are nonetheless a fantastic choice for these with a weak abdomen. They’re a refined carbohydrate stripped of fiber and nutritional vitamins. That could strike you as a foul factor—“refined carbs” is virtually a grimy phrase on the planet of vitamin—however Fitzgerald is fast to level out that “a lot of people are fundamentally confused about the purpose of food in race nutrition. It’s not for your overall health—it’s to get you to the finish line.”
While you definitely don’t need to eat plenty of chips—they’re deep-fried, upping their fats content material—they’ve a nice, starchy crunch with salt to stabilize your electrolyte steadiness. But Dellolacono says the first advantage of one thing like a chip is solely giving the palate a break from the sugary, easy carbohydrates like gels. It’s not one of the best factor for the exercising physique, however having one thing like a small chip will break up the monotony of sticky-sweet tastes and mean you can maintain consuming the stomach-friendly gas afterward.
If you have got a weak abdomen, there’s excellent news: Both Fitzgerald and Dellolacono contend that simply as you possibly can prepare the physique to run sooner and longer, you can train the stomach to comfortably deal with extra meals.
The greatest technique to adapt the physique to run with meals is to coach with a full abdomen. There are just a few methods to perform this: Drink plenty of fluid proper earlier than or throughout a run to make the abdomen comfy with elevated quantity, go on a straightforward run instantly after a meal, or just apply consuming whereas working. (Just like with coaching for distance, although, you need to slowly construct up over time). You’ll by no means be capable to improve how shortly you possibly can take up carbs—that is still fixed, at about 30 to 60 grams per hour—however you possibly can situation your physique to be extra comfy with feeling full.
Dellolacono additionally factors out that rising proof reveals that the microbiome is delicate to the meals you soak up on day by day foundation. So in case your day by day food plan consists of plenty of carbohydrates, your abdomen will probably be higher adept and digesting them whereas working. This additionally speaks to some extent that Dellolacono maintains is crucial think about creating a robust, resilient abdomen: “It all comes back to a a foundationally fit diet,” she says. “Something I’ve learned while working with Clif athletes over time is that even though they eat whatever they want some of the time, I know they start with a foundationally fit diet that is really good for everybody. And then knowing they have that healthy gut to start with, they can train their guts to do more during activity.”