Gastrointestinal Distress In Endurance Events : Ever Caught Short During A Race?

It’s never good when the biggest success of race day is making it to the toilet in time before there’s an accident! I’m talking about the pervasive problem that is the dreaded Gastrointestinal (GI) distress associated with endurance events.

Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping and diarrhoea has been noted in 37-47% of runners participating in races ranging between 67-161km in distance. Nausea and vomiting are some of the main reasons for racers dropping out of ultra endurance events, and the second most common cause of reduced racing performance among athletes who finished the race!

This is an unfortunate inevitability for many ultra endurance competitors, but in order to minimise the effects, do not exceed 100g of carbs per hour of racing. Your body can metabolise around 100g of carbs per hour, so exceeding this level will lead to GI distress. The impact associated with running also stimulates the bowel, so getting the dietary side of things right is crucial!


Stuempfle, K, J., Hoffman, M, D., & Hew-Butler, T. (2013). Association of Gastrointestinal Distress in Ultramarathoners With Race Diet. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 23, 103-109.

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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