Gastrointestinal Issues

One uncomfortable topic many runners avoid discussing is GI distress. Some lucky runners have "guts of steel," but most others experience abdominal discomfort (gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea) on a regular basis—and don't know what to do about it. A good first step is to keep a food and symptom log for a week. Don't be shy—write everything down, then examine your log for patterns, triggers, and problem foods. If you still can't figure out what's bothering you, bring the log to a Registered Sports Dietitian—he or she can likely find the cause, and you can put your GI distress behind you.

Gastrointestinal Issues Tips
  1. Set the Stage!

    If you experience GI issues while you're running, try to avoid high-fiber and difficult-to-digest foods, such as salads, beans, fiber cereals, and crackers, before you run. Artificial sweeteners and gum could also be causing you trouble, so steer clear of those before you head out the door.

  2. Adequate Fluids

    Your diet should include adequate fluids as well as foods high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance which helps with digestion and elimination. Good choices are oats, oatmeal, barley, apples, and carrots.

  3. Don't Give Up!

    Many, many runners believe they have no choice but to tough it out and suffer in silence. Almost always, this is not the case. With a detailed log and some patience, you can almost always find a way to improve your symptoms.

Gastrointestinal Issues RECIPES

Spring Thyme Frittata

Serves 4


1 cup asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
6 oz portobello mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
½ cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz goat cheese
2 large egg whites
4 large whole eggs
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 slices multigrain bread, toasted

Nutrition Info

Per Serving (with toast): 355 calories, 16g fat, 8g saturated fat, 234mg cholesterol, 456mg sodium, 27g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 22g protein


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Cook asparagus in boiling water for two minutes, drain, pat dry, and set aside.
Whisk egg whites and eggs in a small bowl. Stir in the asparagus and goat cheese.
In a large ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Add onion and garlic, cook for one minute. Add Portobello mushrooms and cook until tender.
Pour egg mixture into pan, stir once, then let sit two minutes, or until edges begin to set.
Place pan in oven and bake for eight minutes.
Cut into wedges. Serve with ½ slice of multigrain toast.

Barley Stuffed Tomatoes

6 servings; 1 serving = 1 stuffed tomato and 2/3 cup kale
Fun Fact: Though they are often classified as vegetables, tomatoes are actually the fruit of the tomato vine. Feel free to count them as whichever you prefer; just don't try to count them twice unless you eat 2 servings in one day!


1lb chopped spinach
3/4 cup pearled barley
8oz firm or extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup apple cider
1 tsp dry white wine
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp whole wheat panko bread crumbs
6 large tomatoes, hollowed out

Nutrition Info

Per Serving: 190 calories, 4g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 234mg sodium, 27g carbohydrates, 6g dietary fiber, 10g protein


Place barley in a medium-sized pot with enough water to cover by 1-2 inches. Simmer about 30 minutes. Drain, and set aside in a bowl.
Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add tofu and sauté until golden, then set aside.
In the same pan, sauté onion for 5 minutes until tender and translucent.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add spinach, and cook until wilted.
Add cider and wine, then cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in tofu, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat, then stir in barley.
Arrange tomatoes on a tray, stuff with barley/tofu mixture.
Top with panko bread crumbs and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes are soft.

Creamy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

1 serving


1 cup water
½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup pumpkin puree
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice*
½ cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 tsp brown sugar
¼ cup pecans, chopped (optional)
*If you do not have pumpkin pie spice, you may substitute 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, and 1/8 ground nutmeg.

Nutrition Info

Per Serving (with pecans): 448 calories, 23g fat, 2g saturated fat, 465mg cholesterol, 40g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 23g protein, 125mg calcium, 476mg potassium


Stove top: Bring water to a boil. Add rolled oats and pumpkin puree, then reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately five minutes, stirring occasionally. Once oatmeal has thickened, remove from heat and stir in spices, cottage cheese, and brown sugar. Top with pecans (if you like them), and enjoy!
Microwave:  Combine water and oats in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir and microwave for two minutes, stirring again halfway through. Remove from microwave and stir in pumpkin puree, cottage cheese, spices, and pecans (if you like them). Enjoy!