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What Causes Throwing Up From Exercising?

author image Genevieve Van Wyden
Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.
What Causes Throwing Up From Exercising?
A woman feeling unwell at the gym. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

It never fails -- you get to the gym, suit up, begin working out then run to the bathroom and lose your meal. You can’t become fit or maintain your fitness if you can’t keep from vomiting during a workout. Your body is a finely-tuned machine that needs the right amount of fluids and nutrients to function correctly. You wouldn’t run your car without adding oil or gas and your body is no different. To become fit or maintain your fitness, you need to learn what to eat and drink, and when to eat and drink, so you can work out.

Low Blood Sugar

Working out early in the morning before eating a small breakfast pushes your already-low blood sugar levels lower, leading to dizziness, nausea and vomiting. If you work out in the middle of the day or evening, waiting to eat until after your workout causes your body to react the same way. Anaerobic routines such as swimming or weightlifting drain your body’s stores of blood glucose. To prevent becoming sick during or after a workout, eat a small, light meal approximately two to four hours before you begin exercising. Choose pre-workout foods carefully. Fatty foods don’t sit easy in your stomach as you work out, so choose a snack high in carbohydrates with lower levels of fat. Include lean proteins, such as unsalted nuts, in your meal.

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Stress and Anxiety

Becoming nervous or anxious before your workout can lead to nausea, especially if you are competing against the clock. Pre-workout stress causes your body to release stress hormones, which can lead to nausea and vomiting. If the hormones upset your stomach sufficiently, you may not be able to eat a pre-workout snack or meal, making your situation worse.

Wrong Fluids or Nutrients

Eating or drinking the wrong foods and fluids can cause stomach upset and vomiting. These include full-strength sports drinks, caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Among the food culprits -- spicy and greasy foods, artificial sweeteners, fructose and foods with dairy. If you take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller, you may become ill.

Make note of what you have consumed -- beverages, snacks and meals -- as you work to eliminate the causes of vomiting during workouts. Write down how much time passed between your last meal and a workout. Try to eliminate one food or beverage at a time as you look for the foods and beverages that work best for your body. If high-carbohydrate meals cause problems, add a lean protein to your meals and cut down on the amount of carbs you consume. If a full-strength sports drink causes issues, dilute one bottle before your workout or stick to plain water. Don’t overlook the possibility of a food allergy. Talk to your doctor and tell him what is happening. He can help you confirm or rule out a food intolerance issue.

Motion Sickness

You may have a highly sensitive inner ear system that is aggravated by the motion of your body during exercise. Fixing your gaze on one spot in the room as you work out helps your inner ear and eyes work in sync with each other, thus reducing the likelihood of nausea and vomiting. If you normally close your eyes as you exercise, this can make you sick as well, because your body is not able to coordinate the signals coming from your inner ear. If looking at one fixed point is not working, talk to your doctor about taking an anti-nausea medication before you work out.

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