Cycling and my stomach

I’ve noticed the last couple of rides I’ve been out on (60-odd km with a lot of climbing on very hot days [that’s at the upper end of what I usually achieve on my weekly cycle, btw]) have really been doing in my stomach. By that I mean I’ve felt a bit ill afterwards, and this time even a couple of days later it’s still affecting my toilet habits. I’m sure I’m not actually ill. It’s just that the cycle mushed everything up a bit too much in there.

Does anyone else encounter this or is there anything I can do to avoid/minimise it?

I used to cycle on long rides in Taiwan (45-65 km. once or twice a week, on level ground) and would feel ill if I ate before riding. I would have to ride on an empty stomach to avoid this. Could food possibly be the instigator???

Thanks Indiana, that’s interesting. I usually find that I kind of run out of energy if I don’t eat anything, but also I can’t eat anything fancy beforehand. I’ve taken to just having toast with honey and tea, but I may try to avoid even toast if it solves this problem.

Are you combining energy gels and energy drinks?

energy gels are supposed to be taken with water to dilute them otherwise you have too much sugar in your system and it’s going to pass thru quickly.

just one possibility.

Thanks Indiana, that’s interesting. I usually find that I kind of run out of energy if I don’t eat anything, but also I can’t eat anything fancy beforehand. I’ve taken to just having toast with honey and tea, but I may try to avoid even toast if it solves this problem.[/quote]

I would stop halfway and have a fruit shake or something like that to get me through, but it was weird…even toast or cereal used to make me feel sick before riding. That goes for any kind of cardio with me, though. If I’m doing weight training, I eat an hour beforehand, but I can’t eat even a few hours before I do any kind of cardio or I feel sick. Even if it’s something small and very basic!

stu, it sounds like you are simply exerting yourself too much in the heat. That will cause nausea in anyone. Slow down and see how tha works.

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that so much blood is diverted away from the gut and into the skin when it’s hot, as well as your muscles. I can’t eat before riding, or if i do, i can only ride slowly for an hour or so until my stomach pushes the food along.

And sometimes even then I get wind, or diarrhoea, or just get my daily crap cycle all messed up for a few days. It is important to be regular.

I can eat dried fruit and jelly snakes and sometimes a gel on the ride, but not much more. Powerbars and Clif bars make me heave too.

bananas are the answer…carry as many as 5 bananas with you, keep eating them. avoid sports drink unless diluted.

When I had aspirations to compete in the United States Cycling Federation (USCF) back in the day, the standard advice was to NOT eat just before a heavy ride.

Also, you should ‘carbo-load’ the day before a race or a heavy workout - meaning eating pasta and other starches. That will help your muscles and liver load up on simple starches called glycogen, which are used up during a heavy workout. When THOSE are gone, you hit ‘the wall’. That’s when the body starts metabolizing lipids, which is a much slower process - making your exertions much more difficult.

Unfortunately, USCF cyclists would refer to the process of ‘hitting the wall’ - and then continuing on - as ‘bonking’.

It wasn’t until I lived abroad that I understood why ‘bonking’ was such… an unfortunate word choice.

Here’s a runner’s world article: The Science Behind Bonking

Here’s a Wikipedia article: Hitting the wall

One thing that helped me was to put two or three teaspoons of sugar in the water in my water bottle when I went out on a training ride.

On a side note, I just heard that bananas can help prevent muscle cramping too. Bonus!

This happens to me when racing, be it cycling, running or triathlon. I found it pretty severe at first but after racing bi-weekly for about 3 months it finally started to get in check. The closest thing I found to any “formula” was:

  1. no caffeine for 48 hrs before race
  2. wake up ~ 2 hrs before race, take Immodium A-D, eat half bagel with peanut butter, half to whole banana, a bit of orange juice and some water
  3. during a short race say 10k or less I already have enough calories and some water before/during is all I need
  4. half marathon, triathlon or heavy cycling I will mix my water with HEED, a powdered energy drink at about half the recommended ratio of the manufacturer (diluted), for food, I find cliff bars easiest to digest but difficult to handle on a bike in a race. Shot bloks from Cliff work pretty well for me on a bike but they are a bit sweet. I can digest GU gels pretty well if I can get them open (on the bike).

I’m not sure how much of my success with getting my stomach under control was stabilizing my routine vs. just getting used to the intensity of racing. My stomach would typically be screwed up for about 48 hours post race, starting about 45 min after crossing the finish line. Good luck!

Wow, thanks for all the replies. I’ll give bananas a go. Actually I already knew about them, but had totally forgotten.

Mucha Man, yes you’re right. It was definitely far too intense for that sort of heat. The problem is that I only get this chance to exercise once a week, so I want to make it count. I was actually trying to take it easy up Fenggueizui on the way back from Wanli, but even going as slowly as I could (without stalling) was putting me in the red zone. I suppose I could ride on flatter roads, but I just love mountains. I could also have stopped a few times, but I really wanted to make it all the way up in one go.

i agree with this b4 racing, although the 6am starts for some Taiwan rides make that an uncomfortably early alarm time.

Otherwise, my body has no prob taking in a rice-laden veggie fan-tuan at the start of the ride. My local rides here are all flat for at least the first 5km, and that’s when I eat. Then take it easy for 20 min and I’m good for the rest of the ride.

On a side note, I just heard that bananas can help prevent muscle cramping too. Bonus![/quote]

Yeah it be the potassium in tha 'nana that fights cramps.


On a side note, I just heard that bananas can help prevent muscle cramping too. Bonus![/quote]

Bananas are great, and I’ve stuck them in the back pockets of my jersey on quite a few rides. However, bananas will only inhibit cramping if your problem is low potassium levels.

And, low blood sugar, of course.

I once read a book called “Cycling for Fitness”, published some 20+ years ago. It mentioned that people’s stomachs have resonating frequency of about 120bpm so it was a frequent occurrence that people with too high a cadence suffered from stomach upsets.

Well it definitely wasn’t THAT on Sunday, lol.

I’m not sold on the idea that potassium deficiency is the cause of cramps. Sure, potassium loss can inhibit nerve depolarisation, but muscles contract in the absence of energy as well as in response to nerve impulses, and it is energy that is needed to uncontract them, paradoxically enough.

I used to suffer terrible cramps in the heat on long rides (read: electrolyte depletion) and eventually after many years twigged to the fact that it was only magnesium and zinc that helped. Loading doses the day before, and maybe on the morning of a ride, and then when i got home.

Many other riders I have met since also agree. Best source seems to be in CaMgZn supplements, almost impossible to find in Taiwan though sometimes I would be in luck and RTMart would have some. GNC: nope. Watsons: nope. etc.

Heed is one of the few good sources of Mg and Zn as a sports drink, though the presence of significant (i.e.useful) quantities of magnesium made it taste like shit.

That’s cause you only ride in the heat of the day, Stu! :smiley: And especially this time of year it is essential to get an early start.
I have to eat before starting, otherwise I die a painful death on the climbs. I usually eat an hour prior to getting on the bike. Plus I add concentrated mineral and electrolyte drops to my water. It really helps, especially this time of year.
Must be a thing with the Stu’s. A friend with the same monicker had the exact problem, so he refrained from eating anything before a ride and just made do with small intakes of glucose-rich snacks on the way. You may want to try this.
Good luck!

Well I went up fenggueidzei today in the heat and I thought I was going to croak it on a couple of occasions. I’m riding my daughters bike which is about four sizes too small for me. I was more fried than I’ve ever been. It takes a while to adjust to the heat. I think you were probably hit by the dreaded Zhong Feng (heat stroke). It can take a couple of days to recover from that.