After a hard exercise session, you expect to feel a little breathless. But nausea after working out might be a side effect that you’re not as familiar with.And it might actually be more common than you think, especially if you exercise hard or long. Exercise-induced nausea is quite common, as are exercise-induced gastrointestinal (GI) problems in general, affecting perhaps up to 90% of endurance athletes.
So why does this happen and, more important, how can you prevent it?
What causes nausea after working out?
When you exercise, skeletal muscles in your legs and arms contract. To work most efficiently, they need oxygen. So your heart muscle contracts, too, increasing blood flow through your body. The hemoglobin molecules within your red blood cells carry oxygen to your working muscles.
To maximise the amount of blood being delivered to the active muscles, your body diverts blood away from inactive areas – such as your gut. This diversion is overseen by the “fight or flight” branch of your nervous system. Known as the sympathetic nervous system, it causes some blood vessels to narrow, limiting blood flow. You don’t have conscious control over this process, known as vasoconstriction.
But your contracting skeletal muscles have a special power to preserve blood flow. They’re able to resist the call for vasoconstriction that helps divert blood away from inactive areas. This resistance to the effect of the sympathetic nervous system is called “functional sympatholysis.” Physiologists like me continue to work to understand the specific mechanisms by which this can occur.
So why does limiting blood flow to the gut cause distress?
The relative ischemia, or lack of blood flow, can have different effects. It can change how cells are able to absorb what has been digested and how broken-down food moves through the gut. Taken together, the changes result in an unpleasant feeling you may know all too well.
The lack of blood flow is particularly challenging if the digestive system is actively trying to break down and absorb food, a main reason exercise-induced nausea can be worse right after you’ve eaten, especially if the pre-workout meal had a lot of fat or concentrated carbohydrates.
What kind of workouts are more likely to trigger nausea?
Again, workouts that go harder or longer than what you’re used to can be a particular risk. That can mean a HIIT circuit, sprints, a tempo run, or a longer steady-state run.
Your posture during your workout can also affect your chances of feeling queasy. Take cycling, for instance. Upper G.I. symptoms, like nausea, may be more prevalent due to the increased abdominal pressure than can result from assuming an “aero” position (lowering your torso instead of sitting upright).
Also, some weight-lifting workouts are worse than others when it comes to commanding tons of blood flow—for example, leg day can leave you more prone to nausea than a strength workout where you’re doing isolation moves. “This is due to the size of the muscles as well as the overall volume of work that the legs are capable of handling” . “In addition, intense full-body workouts can further exaggerate this response, as every muscle in the body will be competing for blood flow.”
Can food lead to workout-induced nausea?
Going into a workout hydrated and fueled is important, but you can have too much of a good thing. “Having an excess of food and liquids in the stomach before workouts can trigger exercise-induced nausea simply because there won’t be adequate blood circulating in the stomach to promote optimal digestion,” .
To avoid that sluggish, ate-too-much, gonna-vom feeling during a workout, Seedman suggests planning your workout about one-and-a-half to three hours after a regular meal.
Also, even though healthy fats are hailed for their ability to keep you full for longer, that’s not a great thing when you’re getting ready for a tough workout. “Minimize high-fat foods in the meal leading up to an intense workout, because fats sit longer in the stomach and take more time to digest,” . You may want to avoid fiber and lots of protein before your workout if you’re nausea-prone too.
If you can’t plan your workout around a meal, you can have a small pre-workout snack—just try not to eat within an hour of starting your workout if you’re nausea-prone. And try not to chug water immediately before a workout—focus on sipping consistently.
The cure: Moderation and modification.
It’s no fun to exercise if you’re doubled over with stomach cramps or running for the bathroom. So what can you do to limit symptoms or get rid of them when they crop up?
Moderate your exercise intensity. Nausea is more common with high-intensity exercise, where the competing demands for blood flow are highest. Especially if you’re newer to working out, gradually increasing exercise intensity should help to minimize the likelihood of GI distress.
Modify your exercise. Some evidence suggests that certain exercises, like cycling, can put the body in a position that’s more likely to cause gut problems. Try different forms of exercise, or combinations of different modes to meet your fitness goals while minimizing discomfort. Be sure to properly warm up and cool down to prevent rapid changes in your body’s metabolism.
Modify what and when you eat and drink. Stay hydrated! You’ve probably heard it before, but drinking enough is one of the best ways to prevent GI issues during and after exercise, particularly in hot or humid environments. It is possible to overhydrate, though. Aim for about half a liter per hour of fluids, including some low-carbohydrate and low-sodium sports drinks for high-intensity exercise. It may take some experimentation with different foods and the timing of ingestion to figure out what works best for you and your training goals. You can also incorporate foods like ginger, crackers and coconut water that might help settle your stomach.
The caveat: When to seek help.
While exercise-induced nausea is unpleasant to deal with, in general it isn’t a major health concern. Most symptoms should resolve within an hour of finishing exercise. If problems persist either for long periods after exercise or each time you work out, it’s worth having a conversation with your doctor.
Sometimes the GI distress during or after exercise can actually lead to vomiting. If you unfortunately do throw up, you’ll likely feel better but will also need to rehydrate and replenish the nutrition you lost.
If you’re looking to start an exercise regimen or up the intensity of your current workouts, seeking the advice of trained professionals who can tailor a plan to your needs is often a smart approach. Exercise physiologists or certified personal trainers can provide exercise programming of appropriate intensity, and registered dietitian nutritionists can discuss individual nutritional needs and strategies. Your primary care provider can help to screen for more serious medical issues and should be informed of your exercise routine as well.
Here’s what to do if you experience nausea during or after a workout.
If you feel like you’re going to puke after your workout, soothe your stomach by taking it easy.“Walking around at a slow to moderate pace after training is one of the best things you can do to keep exercise-induced nausea to a minimum, even if it has already set in,” . You can also try lying down with your feet higher than your stomach, which helps redirect blood back to your heart and digestive system.
And even though sports drinks aren’t that necessary most of the time, they can be a great recovery drink if you feel ill. “Fluids with quick-digesting carbohydrates cause quicker fluid delivery and further assist in gastric emptying, which can help alleviate and prevent nausea symptoms,”.
Here’s how to prevent feeling nauseous after working out.
If you find yourself experiencing nausea after a workout often, try scaling back your workout intensity. Keep in mind that constantly feeling nauseated after a workout can be a sign you’re overdoing it.
“Even for metabolic conditioning purposes, the goal is to provide an intense stimulus without destroying the body in the process,” . You can also take longer rest periods in between exercises.
If you find yourself nauseated after hard, full-body workouts, you may also want to tweak your routine so you’re only going intense in one area. If you’re doing an intense upper-body workout, for instance, take it easy on your lower body that day.
At the end of the day, exercise-induced nausea is unpleasant, but it’s probably not going to hurt you. “If it’s a mild to moderate response immediately following training, it’s most likely nothing to be concerned with, particularly if it subsides within 60 minutes,”
.If it happens all the time or continues to linger, you might want to get checked out by a doctor to make sure there’s nothing else going on, because the last thing you want is for your fitness grind to be derailed by feeling sick every single time.
When working out makes you sick to your stomach: What to know about exercise-induced nausea/https://www.news24.com
What Causes Nausea After Working Out?/https://www-self-com