Or during, for that matter
By Jenny Cook
Have you ever been sick as a result of exercise? It’s easy to find footage of athletes throwing up at the side of the race track, and you may even have felt some discomfort yourself after pushing through a tough workout, but several pieces of research suggest that such symptoms are merely the result of poor planning.
It’s thought that roughly half of all athletes experience some form of gastrointestinal discomfort – such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal angina and bloody diarrhoea – while exercising and, although this is down to the fact that blood flow is typically reduced during intense exercise, research has found that the timing of each meal could also be to blame.
Back in 2001, scientists looked at the varying effects eating had on exercise-induced nausea and found that both high and low intensity workouts caused gastric discomfort to varying degrees in participants who worked out immediately after eating. Speaking to The Independent, celebrity trainer Richard Tidmarsh – who runs Reach Fitness – said:
“If you eat your breakfast 30 minutes before an intense training session, you are likely to see it twice.”
Such problems are particularly prevalent for long-distance runners because of the way the sport physically jolts the organs and alters intestinal secretion. Tidmarsh adds:
“To avoid this discomfort you need to realise that training doesn’t start the minute you step in the gym door, but three to four hours before you start.”
Indeed, some recent research even suggests that exercising on an empty stomach is the most preferable way to work out (especially when it comes to losing weight), as it may “promote more favourable” changes in body fat. Speaking to NetDoctor on this topic, fitness expert James Farmer said:
“Training fasted or fed is a much talked about subject. Research has shown that training in a fasted state burns more fat during the workout, but training in a fed state leads to higher fat oxidation over a 24-hour period when compared to a fasted state. I think the best ‘state’ is the one that fits with your lifestyle and the one you can train at your best. If you’re training super early before work, eating and letting that meal digest before training is going to be difficult. Chances are, you’ll be better training in a fasted state. Later in the day? You’ll probably train better having fully digested a meal beforehand.”
He adds that at the end of the day, unless you’re a professional athlete, then it’s unlikely to have much of an effect.
“The simple answer is for the majority of us, it will make little difference when looking at fat loss over a significant period of time. Just pick the state that suits your training time, and the one that makes you feel the best! Don’t overcomplicate it.”