Why Do You Get Diarrhea After Working Out?

Even if you have decided you are going to follow an exercise program to stay fit, you may still have to deal with a number of issues on your way to a perfect body. So many people face a rather weird issue – they get diarrhea after exercising. It is true that many people start walking and running have regular bowel movements, but sometimes, things can take a nosedive and you end up dealing with loose stools.

6 Reasons You Develop Diarrhea After Working Out

Quite like runner's trots, it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of exercise-induced diarrhea. Most experts believe the reasons are similar to runner's diarrhea but there could be other factors as well. Usually, you do not have to worry, but you may want to see your doctor in case of persistent diarrhea. Your doctor will check other symptoms and help make a correct diagnosis. Some possible causes include:

1. Shaking of Abdominal Organs

The shaking of the gastrointestinal organs may well be the reason why you have loose stools after working out. The movement of these organs can increase the movement of food in the bowels. This may impede digestion and even stimulate defecation. You end up dealing with diarrhea due to partially digested food and water in your intestine. Any increase in intra-abdominal pressure, which could happen due to the contraction of the abdominal muscles, may also stimulate bowel movements.

2. Changes in Blood Flow

When you train a muscle during a workout session, more blood flows to that area to provide more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. It means that the blood flow to your gastrointestinal tract goes down, and this reduced blood flow may have something to do with diarrhea after working out. Your risk of having loose stools after a workout increases if you exercise after consuming a meal. Your digestive system will not have enough nutrient rich blood to process the food you have eaten and this will result in diarrhea.

3. Bowel Nerve Reflexes

You have several nerve reflexes that initiate different activities in the bowels. There are defecation reflexes, which are responsible for bowel movements. Your central nervous system can affect some of the nerve reflexes that are outside of the gastrointestinal tract. You experience a number of physiological changes when you perform strenuous physical activities, and this also have a direct impact on your central nervous system, which in turn can stimulate defecation reflexes and make you deal with diarrhea after exercise.

4. Fluctuations of Hormones

Your body releases certain hormones when you exercise. This leads to hormonal fluctuations in the body that can cause diarrhea after working out. This usually happens when there are changes in digestive or intestinal hormones. The change in hormones may suppress bowel activity for a short time and this short break could lead to rapid gastric emptying of a meal, causing you to deal with diarrhea.

5. Intake of Fluids

Along with eating meals before exercise and hormonal fluctuations, consuming fluids rich in solutes may also cause problems. These fluids draw out water into the bowels and affect the way your body absorbs water. This usually results in you dealing with osmotic diarrhea. Some sports drinks contain solutes along with caffeine and other stimulants that speed up bowel movement. Some people try to drink large amounts of fluid after exercise, and this sudden increase in fluids may also contribute to diarrhea.

6. Anxiety and Stress

One of the many reasons why you have to deal with diarrhea after working out is anxiety. When are anxious or under stress, you may develop acute diarrhea. This usually happens when you are in competitive sports and are seriously concerned about your performance just before the start of an event. Sometimes, you continue to feel stressed and anxious after the event and this ongoing stress can contribute to diarrhea after exercise.

What to Do

While there can be many possible explanations of why you have to deal with diarrhea after exercise, you certainly can take steps to make things better.

The most important thing to ensure you do not have loose stools during or after exercise is to put more attention to what you eat or drink. For instance:

  • Be sure to drink cold fluids right before, during, and after exercise. Avoid warm liquids because they encourage the food to move quickly through intestines.
  • Avoid eating foods rich in fiber, such as fruit, beans, and bran before you exercise.
  • Never consume high-fat foods and caffeine 3-6 hours before your workout.

While paying attention to these basic rules helps, you can always modify things considering your own needs and the way your body handles different food. Some people feel better when they eat an apple before they run. Whatever the case, you should limit the duration and intensity of your physical activity until your diarrhea gets better. You can increase the intensity once your body gets used to the exercise.

When to See Your Doctor

It is quite normal to occasionally experience diarrhea after working out, but persistent diarrhea needs further evaluation. You can always change your diet and lifestyle to see if it resolves the issue, but see your doctor if the problem persists. Sometimes, there is a parasite or bacteria in your gut that needs to be eliminated. This is when you require medical assistance. Your diarrhea may also indicate a medical condition, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, microscopic colitis, celiac disease, or irritable bowel syndrome. Talk to your doctor and follow their advice to treat these problems. 

 
 
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