GI Issues: The Most Common Symptom of a Food Intolerance

Gastrointestinal specialists, dietitians, and nutritionists spend a lot of time talking about bowel movements. In my experience, the same thing can be said of athletes. Although there are those athletes who remain a little more shy, I can guarantee they are still thinking about it—and for good reason:

Gastrointestinal complaints are among the most common and frequent complaints of endurance athletes, in particular runners.


60-90% of Runners Have GI Troubles

The feeling of urgency that hits during exercise is often called “runner’s guts,” a state that is widely accepted as part and parcel of being an athlete. It is estimated that the vast majority of runners, somewhere between 60-90%, have experienced some sort of gastrointestinal distress: nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps and pains, bloating, and burping. I would argue that every runner experiences GI issues over the course of his or her years of training and racing. Those who haven’t are either lying or are new enough to the sport to be unaware of the joys that lie ahead for them.

  • Upper GI distress manifests as heartburn, vomiting, belching, bloating, nausea, and/or stomach pain.
  • Lower GI distress includes cramping, gas, urgency, and diarrhea.

Yet GI distress is not something you have to put up with to enjoy your sport.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

Portapotty photo: Flickr/Lucian Venutian