Bloated After Working Out? How to Prevent & Deal with Post-Workout GI Distress

Woman holding stomach in t-shirt and jeans - bloated after a workout

There is something utterly zen about hitting the gym and working up a good sweat. Even though you may come out sweaty, tired, and more than a little sore, the results are well worth the short-term discomfort. However, sometimes working out can result in unexpected side effects that are uncomfortable and unsightly. We are referring to post-workout bloating. While not everyone will experience post-workout bloating, you already know just how uncomfortable it can be for those who do get it. Thankfully, it’s normal and can be avoided in most cases, we will tell you how below.

Is it Common to get Bloated After Working Out?

It makes sense that certain meals will make you feel bloated, but getting bloated after working out just sounds strange. However, as strange as it sounds, it is not only normal, it’s a common occurrence. As many as 30% of people who visit the gym regularly have noted that they feel bloated following their physical activity. This bloating is called abdominal dissension and can be a result of a variety of things. The important thing to keep in mind is that after-workout bloating is not harmful, although it may be uncomfortable.

What Causes Being Bloated After Working Out?

Woman sitting on floor with a bottle water in her hand - tips of bloated after working out

Several factors can lead to feeling bloated after you hit the gym. The two most common causes are overhydration and under hydration. Drinking too much water in a short period of time will cause a dilution of the salt content in your body. This will make your cells hold onto more water, which in turn makes you feel bloated. The other side of the coin is that not enough water can also cause bloating. If there is not enough extra fluid in your body or if you lose too much fluid during your workout, then your body, specifically your stomach, will hold onto water to compensate. This also results in bloating.

The way you breathe is also a common cause of bloating. Physical activity causes an increase in oxygen use and carbon monoxide production. If you breathe too hard or inhale too quickly, the flow will go to your digestive tract instead of your lungs. This, of course, causes your stomach to bloat like a balloon. Aside from that, the actual act of working out causes a certain amount of inflammation which also results in bloating.

Other causes of post-workout bloating are the heat and also what you eat. If you are working out in a humid environment or if it happens to be hot outside while you are being physically active, your blood vessels will expand. This will cause bloating as fluid builds between your blood vessels. What you eat and when you eat will also affect your stomach. Eating too much fat, protein, or fiber right ahead of a period of high activity can cause bloating as your body struggles to multitask.

How To Prevent Getting Bloated After Working Out

Woman working out on elliptical at gym showing proper breathing

To prevent post-workout bloating, it is important to learn the proper way to breathe during your workout. We are sure you have heard trainers mention not to hold your breath or to breathe in or during certain parts of your exercise. Maintaining the proper form will also help you to regulate your breathing, which will prevent swallowing air which can cause bloating.

Another way to prevent post-workout bloating is by sticking to simple proteins and carbohydrates that are easily digested. This will cut down on the gasses in your stomach that can lead to bloating during a workout. Skip sugar, sodas, and cocktails completely before your workout as well. Drink water before your workout and limit how much you drink during your workout to prevent over hydration and bloating. Make sure you eat at least two hours before you plan to hit the gym and drink your water at least half an hour ahead of your workout. Take slow breaths and also add a prebiotic supplement to your daily routine.

How To Reduce Post Workout Bloating

Sometimes bloating is unavoidable, but it generally will resolve on its own within a few hours of your workout. There are a few tips that you can use to help resolve post-workout bloating quicker. One of the most efficient ways to reduce after-workout bloating is to perform gut training. This is a lengthy process, but once you train your gut to metabolize carbs more efficiently, your bloating will be reduced to shorter periods following your workout, or eliminated.

raspberries and yogurt in a bowl - foods to eat to help bloating after a workout

Some delicious snacks can help shorten after-workout bloating. Eggs, fermented yogurt, and other pickled foods are a great way to short circuit bloating quickly. One of the main causes of bloating after a workout is losing too much water. Make sure that you balance your electrolytes immediately after your workout to shorten the duration of any post-workout bloating. It is a good idea to drink about 3 cups of water for every pound you lose to reduce bloating. Avoid food that is full of sugar or high in fat after your workout to expedite the recovery process.

Final Thoughts on Post-Workout Bloating

As strange as it may sound, you should keep in mind that bloating is a common occurrence. It is normal to experience bloating following a workout, but with the right precautions, you can avoid it completely. Skip sodas, sugary food, and copious amounts of water to reduce your chances of leaving the gym bloated. It will resolve on its own after a few hours if you do end up getting bloated, or you can use a few of the remedies mentioned above to shorten the duration. Gut-training is also an efficient and highly effective way to not only reduce after-workout bloating but eliminate it.

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