Habits and Foods that Cause GI Problems for Athletes

Gastrointestinal complaints are among the most common and frequent complaints of endurance athletes, in particular runners. In fact, 60-90% of runners have GI troubles. Higher intensity exercise makes GI issues more likely, and women experience GI issue more commonly than men.


Here are the foods and habits that often cause GI distress for athletes:

  • A food intolerance, of course.
  • FODMAPs: A kind of carbohydrate
  • Fructose: Commonly found in sports foods and drinks
  • Lactose: Found in varying levels in dairy products
  • Caffeine: Found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, sports foods
  • Meal timing: Eating too close to exercise
  • Fat and fiber: Too much of either can rush your guts.
  • High-carb sports drinks: Dehydrate your gut before they rehydrate you
  • Dehydration: Can wreck your gut.
  • Stress: Key workout or pre-race nerves can make you run for the port-o-let.
  • NSAIDs: Can cause leaky gut syndrome.
  • Antibiotics: Can decimate your gut biome.
  • Bad posture: Puts physical pressure on your gut.
  • Vibration: Running and jumping, anyone?
  • Antidiarrheal and antinausea meds: Believe it or not, new research shows these meds interfere with hydration and make things worse for athletes, not better.

GI distress is not something you have to put up with to enjoy your sport! The Athlete’s Fix can help you identify your problem foods that cause your GI distress. If your GI issues aren’t caused by a food intolerance, there are several other strategies that can make life easier.

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.

Pasta photo: Flickr/Adam Wyles