Member Case Study: Clydesdale Gastrointestinal Issues

author : AMSSM
comments : 0

Member question
I am a (Clydesdale) triathlete with three years of racing under my belt. My first season was just sprints. The second was a sprint with two olympics. This year was a sprint, olympic and a marathon. My goals this year were to add speed to my run and olympic races and increase my running to handle a marathon. After both my olympic and marathon races, I suffered from stomach and GI issues. I will be the first to admit that my diet is not the best in the world. I try to keep the foods healthy in general and get fussier closer to big races. My nutrition during races tends to be gels and Gatorade.


Ironically the two races I did that gave me stomach issues I did not have my usual pre-race Croissant, egg and bacon sandwich. I seem to think that when I go hard, my excess flab may be causing bruising due to lack of support.  Otherwise I will have to totally rethink my pre-race nutrition.  Any help and suggestions would be helpful.

Answer
Stomach and gastrointestinal issues can be reported in up to 80% of athletes at certain distances, so you are not alone. These conditions include heartburn, abdominal pain, diarrhea and nausea. It is common with these conditions that, similar to your report, symptoms increase with longer distances and higher levels of exertion. I suspect your nutrition and training program may have more to do with your symptoms than your Clydesdale classification. In addition to a training log, I have found a dietary log to be helpful in discovering potential causes when problems occur.

While there is a good deal of science behind our body's ability to absorb and process nutrients at rest and exercise, everyone responds differently to what they eat. We know that diets too high in fat and sugar concentration can cause problems. Most common sports drinks are formulated with sugar concentrations for optimal absorption.

 

The consumption of gels which contain a much higher sugar concentration, without adequate fluids, will decrease their absorption and may exacerbate abdominal symptoms. I have heard many other non-traditional pre-race and race feeding strategies and it sounds like croissant, egg and bacon sandwich is one that works for you. I often remind athletes to race as they train. As with shoes, socks, clothes, goggles and bicycle set-up it, is helpful to test and practice your nutrition replacement program during training.

Fortunately these issues tend to be episodic and self-limiting. However, we must remember that athletes are not immune from the same gastrointestinal issues that affect non-athletes. If symptoms persist, I always recommend a proper medical evaluation.

Scott Pyne, MD
Team Physician, United States Naval Academy
Member AMSSM

 

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date: January 16, 2007

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AMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

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avatarAMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

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