Let’s Talk about the Gut

Repopulate your gut microbiome during the POST SEASON so that you’re ready for gut training during RACE SEASON!

Gut Training

First, let’s discuss why gut training is a crucial step during the Specific Preparation Phase. 

Gut training can be done in various manners, however, it essentially boils down to this: We challenge our GI systems with various volumes of carbohydrates and fluids so that we can improve the absorption of nutrients, prevent GI problems, and improve athletic performance [1]. We like to begin gut training with our clients 10 weeks before their event so that we can best train their guts to adapt and tolerate higher amounts of fluids and carbohydrates. 

Why is this important? 

More fluid consumption allows an athlete to avoid dehydration and its symptoms that can lead to impaired performance [3]. Studies show that increased intake of carbohydrates over time allows the gut to better absorb and oxidize the macronutrient. This allows athletes to more efficiently use carbohydrates to fuel their exercise, thereby improving their performance [2]. 

So, how can we prepare for gut training during the post season? 

The Gut Microbiome

Repopulating your gut microbiome is an important consideration for athletes looking to begin gut training in the race season AND anyone who wants to avoid GI problems!

Why? 

Your gut microbiome is essentially a mix of “good” and “bad” bacteria in your GI tract that allows for the efficient breakdown and absorption of nutrients that you consume in your diet. When you have the appropriate balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria, your gut functions properly and you should feel no symptoms. 

Sometimes, however, the delicate balance of your gut microbiome can become disturbed from certain foods, antibiotics, high intensity training creating a hypoxic environment at the level of the gut, or even supplements. When this happens, you can exhibit various symptoms ranging from discomfort to pain, and in more extreme cases, you could even develop intestinal illnesses such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) [4]. 

Without a properly functioning gut microbiome, gut training will be less effective. Additionally, that wide range of symptoms previously mentioned, including gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea can undermine an athlete’s focus and throw their race plan completely off track [4]. Therefore, a problematic gut microbiome can really impair athletic performance [5].

Balancing your Gut Microbiome

So, what are things to consider when working towards a balanced gut microbiome? 

  • Omega-3: This nutrient has been shown to restore the gut microbiome back to a healthy balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. Additionally, it’s anti-inflammatory properties help to resolve other illnesses like IBD. High amounts of this fatty acid can be found in fatty fish like salmon [6]. 
  • Vitamin D: Recent studies have demonstrated how this micronutrient helped patients suffering from IBD. Vitamin D worked to increase the number of beneficial bacterial strains, thereby altering the composition of the individual’s gut microbiome to relieve their IBD symptoms [6].  
  • Polyphenols: These compounds can be found in various fruits, veggies, or even your tea and coffee. Studies have shown that polyphenols have the ability to prevent harmful bacteria from populating the gut, and instead promote the survival of beneficial microbes [7]. 

Need help getting started?

Work with one of our practitioners to fine tune your gut troubles so that you can optimize your gut training during the race season!

References: 

  1. Jeukendrup A. E. (2017). Training the Gut for Athletes. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.)47(Suppl 1), 101–110. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0690-6
  2. Cox, G. R., Clark, S. A., Cox, A. J., Halson, S. L., Hargreaves, M., Hawley, J. A., Jeacocke, N., Snow, R. J., Yeo, W. K., & Burke, L. M. (2010). Daily training with high carbohydrate availability increases exogenous carbohydrate oxidation during endurance cycling. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)109(1), 126–134. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00950.2009
  3. FNAK RB. Essentials of Exercise & Sport Nutrition: Science to Practice. Lulu.com; 2019.
  4. Gagliardi, A., Totino, V., Cacciotti, F., Iebba, V., Neroni, B., Bonfiglio, G., Trancassini, M., Passariello, C., Pantanella, F., & Schippa, S. (2018). Rebuilding the Gut Microbiota Ecosystem. International journal of environmental research and public health15(8), 1679. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15081679
  5. de Oliveira, E. P., Burini, R. C., & Jeukendrup, A. (2014). Gastrointestinal complaints during exercise: prevalence, etiology, and nutritional recommendations. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.)44 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S79–S85. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0153-2
  6. Rinninella, E., Cintoni, M., Raoul, P., Lopetuso, L. R., Scaldaferri, F., Pulcini, G., Miggiano, G., Gasbarrini, A., & Mele, M. C. (2019). Food Components and Dietary Habits: Keys for a Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition. Nutrients11(10), 2393. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102393
  7. Yang, Q., Liang, Q., Balakrishnan, B., Belobrajdic, D. P., Feng, Q. J., & Zhang, W. (2020). Role of Dietary Nutrients in the Modulation of Gut Microbiota: A Narrative Review. Nutrients12(2), 381. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020381
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