Have you ever finished a workout session and afterwards felt more bloated than before? I want to share why you’re bloating after exercise + 3 other reasons you might be bloated and constipated.
Someone messaged me,
Why am I still bloated and constipated when I eat all the ‘right’ foods and exercise daily?
So I’ll tell you my real and honest thoughts, based both on personal experience and research.
Bloating After Exercise (+ 3 other reasons you might bloated and constipated)
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This question is easy for me to address because that was me for 10+ years.
It was like I was a dog constantly chasing her own tail.
Eat well, lots of physical activity, repeat…..bloated and constipated?! Nothing added up.
So let’s break this down with 4 reasons you might be bloated and constipated (still) even after seemingly doing all the right things.
1. Bloating After Exercise
What exactly do you mean when you say you’re getting regular exercise?
You have to be very honest with yourself. Is it a nice, gentle walk or is it a hard workout like Crossfit or a hard run?
Are you actually doing intense exercise daily or is it basic yoga a few days a week?
This matters; it matters more than most people think.
Here are some cited sources for why that workout plan of yours might be making your digestive system off:
- Too much exercise can adversely affect your gut, and athletes sometimes unknowingly struggle with gut issues. Because they might feel otherwise healthy and “do everything correctly,” they don’t realize how overexercise can stress the body and deliver a whammy to their digestion. (source via source)
- Exercise is an important environmental factor shown to positively affect the gut microbiome – but only if it’s not excessive. (source)
- “In The Paleo Approach, I detailed the impact of strenuous activity on the immune system (summary: it’s not good).” (source) (By the way, I have – and love – that book.)
Now, here are even more things to consider.
When it comes to post-workout bloating, these are the main factors and things likely contributing to the unwanted side effect:
- If nothing else, perhaps you’re drinking too much water during the workout itself. Getting adequate water intake is always a good idea, but not to the point of misery while working out.
- Pre-workout: consider what you ate just prior to the workout. Sometimes having too many high-fiber foods won’t settle well, but more so than that, I know a lot of fitness enthusiasts consume protein bars, shakes, and other pre-workout drinks that contain artificial sweeteners and other ingredients that can affect the digestive tract.
- Stressful state: you went to workout to reduce your stress levels, but then the workout itself was high-intensity exercise which is still activating the body’s stress response. Stress on top of stress does not equal less stress and reduced gastrointestinal symptoms.
I learned my lesson the hard way, not just once. Instead, I battled with it, constantly telling myself, “No way. It’s not the workout.”
In the end, after research and practicing on myself I came to the conclusion that (hard) workouts and gut healing cannot coexist.
You can read all about it HERE.
2. Infection and/or overgrowth
Next, the question is, “Have you been tested for various things, including infections and/or overgrowths?”
This one is almost completely out of your control because you could be doing all the ‘right’ things with an underlying condition, a root cause, that needs specific assistance. It is likely the most common reason for abdominal bloating and constipation when you believe you’re doing those right things.
In fact, this was me to a ‘T,’ prior to the 2014 SIBO diagnosis that would finally put me on a path to forever healing.
If you’ve never gotten any tests done, but you’re not sure where to start, the Beginner’s Guide to Digestive Health Testing is a must-read for you today.
And if you’re not quite ready to see a health care provider, I also have several ways to test for food intolerance and more via THESE testing from home methods.
3. ‘Right’ Foods
No matter what the discussion and topic, ‘right’ foods is 1,000% subjective.
A healthy diet is a loaded phrase that can mean anything from fruits and vegetables to (these days) the Keto diet.
Just because you think, saw, or once heard that it’s ‘right,’ does not mean right for you.
If you’re constantly bloated and constipated, perhaps your “right-foods” are part of the problem. The only way to know, though, would be to eliminate numbers 1, 2, and 4 as culprits in conjunction with food journaling.
Food journaling is the easiest way to start seeing patterns and getting a grip on what’s going on for you personally.
And, in fact, in my own gut-healing journal system, there is a method I teach for tracking your workouts so you can see if/how your workouts are affecting you.
You don’t want to see this one on the list, but it’s imperative that you not overlook it if you’re wanting to feel better.
You can go to the doctor (and get a diagnosis), take the supplements and medications, and eat all the ‘right’ foods, but still feel miserable; bloated and constipated.
This is because you still have not actually gone all-in on addressing the lifestyle components for gut healing.
And, in fact, that intense workout you might be participating in falls under this category as well.
If you want the truth, I created GUT HEALING FOR BEGINNERS because I kept seeing, time-and-time again that women who were desperately trying to heal their gut were not paying attention to this most important gut-healing pillar.
You cannot outrun the way you are living your life 24/7.
But the good news is that you can start to make the changes you need today.
Join Gut Healing for Beginners for today! Start your journey towards healing your gut forever.
Other reasons for Bloat and Constipation
Of course there are other reasons for your digestive issues.
The above four reasons are just the main ones I wanted to point out, but believe me when I say that healing is extremely tricky; no matter if you are constipated and majorly bloated and/or have diarrhea.
Other (common) reasons for constipation and bloating include:
- dehydration, a lack of fluids – drink more water just not a lot of extra fluid during workouts or during meals for that matter
- blockages in the colon or rectum
- not enough magnesium
- problems with the nerves around the colon and rectum
- changes in life or routine
- a diet with too little fiber, especially over any given length of time
- difficulty with the muscles involved in elimination (i.e. weakened pelvic muscles)
- pregnancy (I wouldn’t know this one; research)
- hormonal problems (i.e. hypo and hyperthyroidism)
- certain medications
- abuse of laxatives
- ignoring the urge to go (you know, “holding it” due to embarrassment)
- lack of exercise (yes, “too little” exercise can affect the digestive process as well)
How to Deal with Bloating and Constipation
So what’s a girl to do?
Here are 7 simple steps to take today:
- Skip the extra cups of water during exercise.
- Practice deep breathing vs. intense workouts.
- Save the big meal for after workouts (or several hours before a workout).
- Consider a new fitness routine, one that doesn’t include massively heavy breathing and so much stress on the body. Even just try it for a few days and see what happens.
- Look into medical conditions that might be contributing to so much bloating and constipation.
- Walk, don’t run.
- Hone in on lifestyle changes.
If you need more ideas, check out THESE 15 ways to deal with constipation.
You can and will heal! Just imagine your gut healed. Is THIS what it might look like?
And when you heal your gut, I promise that you will be able to go back to getting that good workout in. While I still do a lot of simple workouts; walking, deep breathing, etc., I also am able to do more high-intensity training again. And it’s so awesome!
p.s. During my research, I noted Mayo clinic said “being a woman” was a factor that may increase your risk of chronic constipation. I’ll never stop helping the darlings in this Gutsy community!
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You will heal. I will help.