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Bloating & Gas When Exercising

By Susan Diranian ; Updated August 14, 2017

Feeling bloated during exercise is common for those who spend hours training at the gym as well as those who are preparing for a high endurance event, like a marathon. Many factors contribute to this uncomfortable situation including too much fluid in the body and not enough salt. Talk to your doctor if you experience gas and bloating during exercise, if your symptoms get worse or if you notice a change in your ability to complete a workout.

Causes of Bloating

Some of the main causes of bloating and gas include eating certain foods and beverages, gastrointestinal ailments, premenstrual syndrome and swallowing too much air when eating. For athletes and gym goers, gas and bloating may be caused by drinking too much water or a beverage with too many carbohydrates as well as not replacing lost salt or electrolytes. Eating a meal that contains a high amount of protein or fiber just before working out may also contribute to feeling bloated and gassy when exercising.

Overhydration and Electrolytes

Sodium and other electrolytes are found in our blood, sweat and urine and are responsible for nerve and muscle function. When you sweat or use the restroom, you lose electrolytes. Drinking too much water also dilutes sodium and electrolytes. At first, it was believed that those who spend hours at the gym preparing for a marathon or other high endurance event should drink large quantities of water every 15 minutes or so. However, this can actually cause overhydration, a serious medical condition known as hyponatremia. Symptoms of hyponatremia include bloating, headache, confusion, nausea, seizures and possibly death. To determine how much sodium you lose during your workout, keep track of how many ounces of fluid you drink while exercising. Divide that number by 32 and multiply the answer by 1,000. The answer is the amount of sodium you need in miligrams. If you drink a sports drink during exercise, subtract the amount of sodium in the drink from the total to determine how much sodium you need after your workout.

Dehydration and Exercise

Although drinking too much water may lead to dangerous health conditions, not drinking enough water may lead to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include dry skin, headache, fatigue, dizziness, fever and extreme thirst. If you suspect that you are suffering from any of these conditions, seek medical care immediately.

Pre-Workout Foods and Drinks

While it's important to fuel your body before your workout, certain types of foods and drinks you consume can cause bloating and gas. Avoid eating high-fiber foods just before an intense workout or competition. Also, drink water or fruit juice instead of carbonated beverages.

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