Whether you're hitting the open trails or taking a few laps around the track, running is a great way to improve your overall health and fitness level. Additionally, running can help you burn calories to shed pounds if you're looking to slim down. Thus, you may find it particularly distressing if you feel and look bloated after your runs. Fortunately, post-run belly bloat doesn't mean that your running has made you gain weight. And even better, you can take strides to limit your likelihood of experiencing belly bloat after future runs.
Before taking any steps to alleviate your belly bloating, it's important to be sure of its causes. According to research published in the June 2012 edition of the journal "ISRN Gastroenterology," up to 25 percent of people experience bloating, so the experience is not uncommon. Irritable bowel syndrome, retained bowel fluid and diaphragm problems typically drive this bloating. Such conditions may require medical attention, so consult your doctor if your bloating doesn't subside or occurs outside the context of exercise.
As you might expect, what you eat may influence your belly bloating. If you don't often consume high levels of carbohydrates but carb-load for running, the starchy or grainy foods you eat for energy may be the culprit. Additionally, eating large, fat-laden meals too soon before running can also promote during- and post-run belly bloat. Finally, consuming too much water or too little sodium -- an electrolyte important for athletic performance -- can cause feelings of bloating and discomfort after your runs.
Sometimes the food that you eat before your run isn't the cause of your post-run bloating. You may inadvertently be upsetting your sodium-fluid balance through your sweat. As sports medicine professional Chris Koutures noted in 2011, some people lose more salt in their sweat than others, which can promote a bloat-inducing imbalance. Additionally, having excess belly fat may give rise to a feeling of bloating, as will constipation. Finally, an undiagnosed digestive condition such as celiac disease or a food allergy may cause you to feel bloated after a run, which may exacerbate an unsettled stomach.
Before attempting to treat any condition or injury, you should consult a medical professional. If you want to reduce your bloating on your own, the remedy will depend on the cause of your issue. Consuming antacids may help offset any acid reflux, as will waiting longer between your meal and your run. If consuming starch or other solid carbohydrates is the cause of your bloating, consuming easily digestible nutrition drinks, bars, or gels may be preferable. Even if you don't believe a medical condition is the source of your problem, consulting a medical professional for advice may help you avoid days or weeks of trial and error.
Brian Willett began writing in 2005. He has been published in the "Buffalo News," the "Daytona Times" and "Natural Muscle Magazine." Willett also writes for Bloginity.com and Bodybuilding.com. He is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of North Carolina.