Feeling bloated after a workout can be a painful and discouraging experience, but it is not necessarily cause for concern. It might be what you are eating and drinking that is causing the problem, and making simple adjustments can remedy the situation. However, if the problem persists for more than two weeks, despite your making adjustments, consult a doctor.
Exercise and Bloating
According to a 2017 study published by Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology, exercise speeds up the movement of gas through your digestive system, which in turn should reduce bloating. However, while physical activity did decrease gas in healthy subjects who participated in the research, their perception of bloating remained unchanged.
Feeling Bloating After Exercise
When you engage in vigorous exercise, blood is moved away from your intestines and out to your extremities. This impairs the digestive process, which can lead to bloating if you have eaten too much, too soon before working out.
Consuming a food or other substance that is either hard to digest or that irritates the lining of your intestines may produce similar results. In some instances, working out exacerbates an underlying gastrointestinal disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Water Retention and Salt
One of the most common causes of abdominal bloating after exercise, water retention occurs as the result of an imbalance in the amount of salt in your blood. If you have been drinking too much water or not enough salt, your body reacts by retaining water.
This leads to bloating, often in the abdominal area. It could be that you have a tendency to retain water, particularly if you sweat out a lot of salt when exercising. Some beginning exercisers retain water because their bodies interpret working out as a trauma and retain fluids as a precautionary measure.
Medical Causes of Bloating
Although digestive issues and water retention are the more common causes of abdominal bloating after exercise, other factors can cause or contribute to the problem. Prescription medications can lead to bloating, particularly if they contain lactulose or sorbitol, reports the online encyclopedia MedlinePlus.
Swallowing air, which is a nervous habit, can also lead to abdominal bloating. Rarely, a more serious issue, such as pancreatic insufficiency, ovarian cancer, tumors or ascites, is the culprit.
Help Prevent Bloating
To avoid digestion issues, eat a full meal at least two hours before working out to allow for proper digestion. Include mostly carbohydrates and some protein in your meals, and eat slowly. Avoid consuming caffeine, aspirin, high doses of vitamin C, carbonated drinks and foods with high amounts of fiber, sugar or fats.
To determine the proper amount of water you need to drink, weigh yourself before and after working out. The weight you lose will be mostly water. If you tend to get a bitter taste in your mouth when you sweat or have a lot of white marks on your clothing, you might be a salty sweater. If this is the case, consuming a salty snack before and during your workout may help prevent the bloating.
Consult a doctor before adding more salt, however, as excess amounts can lead to blood pressure problems. If the bloating persists for more than two weeks despite preventive measures or is accompanied by severe pain, seek medical attention.