Bloating-gas-indigestion-working-out

How to Deal with Bloating, Indigestion and Gas

Written by Shane Duquette on April 2, 2012

Hey guys this may be a little overdue, depending on what you’ve been eating 😉

I went on a date last week shortly after training, and before heading off to the bar I crammed down as much food as I could: a 2 scoop whey shake, 2 bananas, 4 eggs, a shot of olive oil, and then I grabbed a litre of milk and started walking off to the bar. This is after finishing my 1200 calorie workout sugar/whey shake. I arrived just as I finished my litre of milk and greeted my date. I then quickly had to sit down to make sure none of that hard-swallowed nutrition came back up. She thought it was pretty funny, and 45 minutes of wheezing later I was back to normal.

During my recent muscle-building shake recipe experiments I ran into a couple duds and had a similar experience on another date, except this time my stomach expanded and I spent an hour or so burping uncontrollably. Conclusion? Soda + dairy is a really bad combination. These little mishaps reminded me of my struggles years ago, when I first started out on my journey to muscle-town.

Let me take you back to when I was a 130 pound hardgainer…

When I first started putting on some muscle and eating a huge surplus of healthy food I thought I was headed down the path to feeling awesome. It turns out after a couple weeks I did start to feel a lot better, look a lot better, and have a lot more energy … but I also started to bloat up like a blowfish. I had skinny-boy abs, but my dreams of having a washboard stomach were being ruined by the fact that my stomach now looked like a rock hard turtle shell. My abs were convex.

The other problem with this was that my stomach was inflated full of gas, and that gas needed to come out of somewhere. Having higher testosterone levels, more muscle mass, more confidence, more energy and being healthier than ever was fantastic for dating, but now my poor dates had to deal with the side effects of my bulking diet: bloating, indigestion and gas. I had 2 roommates too.

And it didn’t help that my primary source of carbohydrates at the time was beans.

You may have an image of some poor girl plugging her nose and scowling at poor skinny me. Not the case. More like me sitting in discomfort holding all that gas in my poor inflated turtleshell stomach and subtly trying to imply that it was getting late and that she should probably get her tiny tush home. Little did they know I was a natural gas factory (I hope).

I used to think the gas was just a necessary side effect of working out, and most of the guys I knew that were successfully putting on mass were in the exact same bloated boat. I was really damn tired of being skinny, so it’s not like a little gas for a couple months was going to stop me. Luckily after some diet experimentation and improvements the problem went away, and I pretty much forgot that I ever had it… until these recent dates.

I watched a seminar yesterday where some sports nutritionists were discussing indigestion and they were laughing about how you should get a medal just for being able to survive the backstage area at a bodybuilding event. These guys apparently release a lot of gas. They also said that it was an unnecessary evil, and in fact you can actually put on muscle even quicker once you figure out how to digest your food properly.

So how do you get rid of the bloating, indigestion and gas?

Here are a few nutrition tricks:

  • If it’s the protein powders that you’re guzzling that make you feel bloated and gassy then they should be your first stop when trying to fix the problem. When you consume a lot of identical nutrients, as you do when you consume massive amounts of the same brand of whey protein, your body can start to build up an intolerance. That makes you feel bloated and gassy, and just means that you should mix up your whey proteins. Buy a couple different brands and cycle them. If you really eat a ton of whey you may even want to buy three or four different brands at once.If that still doesn’t help, switch up the type of protein powder you buy. Whey isn’t the only option—you can also get egg based proteins, casein protein, blends. Even with whey protein lots of people find that they respond better to whey isolate than concentrate, or even to hydrolized whey over whey isolate.
  • Eat probiotic yogurt. It’s full of bacterial cultures that will populate your gastrointestinal tract with the right bacteria, making it easier to digest your food. Goodbye gas. This helped me out a ton and pretty much solved all my problems right away.
  • Eat pineapples. They’re full of great digestive enzymes that will help you process your food. You can buy digestive enzyme supplements, but pineapples are a great way to get them from whole foods. Since they’re coming from whole foods there’s a better chance of your body knowing how to properly deal with the enzymes, upping the chances of them working for you. You also get all the benefits of the pineapples.

Supplements:

If you can’t fix the problem holistically via your whole food intake then do not fret—there are supplements that might help you battle your gassy demons. Try supplementing with digestive enzymes or bacterial cultures, like enteric coated acidophilus.

Allergies / Intolerances:

Still having problems? You may be allergic or have an intolerance to something that you’re eating. Try systematically removing potential problem foods from your diet one by one and monitoring your progress. Here are some common foods that cause problems:

  • wheat
  • dairy / protein powders
  • nuts
  • eggs

One of these solutions is sure to give you some “release”. For me it was a combination. The yogurt helped, eating less whey (and more eggs) and varying the types helped, adding some bacterial culture rich kefir (fermented milk) to my protein shakes instead of just regular milk helped as well.

Hope this helps! Happy training!

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So, what'd you think? 15 responses below.

Breonna

Shane, I think you’re allergic to eggs, dairy, protein powder, and nuts. Gassy monster indeed.

Shane Duquette

Hey a burp now and then isn’t so bad 🙂

roz

sounds like my life!

Alexander

I thought it’s gluten and milk that bloats me but it turned out its fibre and processed milk. No wholemeal no too many veg and no whey protein and life is good once again.

Amin

Hey Alexander I wonder do you steam your veggies or eat them raw?

Galev

So here I was wondering “I should google this gas thing, it mustn’t be normal, there must be a way to deal with it.” And google gave me some results and I was confirmed in my suspicion that it is probably the supplement I started taking (beef protein with some carbs).
There weren’t any suggestions other than “it should go away in a few weeks”.
“I wish there was something about thin on Bony to Beastly…” And then I spotted the link. Crazy how you guys really cover everything. 😀

I’m not going to be able to mix my supplement with anything because I only take the one (and only twice a week). But I’ll try out pro-biotic yoghurt. My only concern is that I may be lactose intolerant (I have an appointment to have it tested). So I don’t know what I’ll do if that turns out to be the case.

Shane Duquette

Ahaha we try our best! Glad we could help.

Even if you’re lactose intolerant some types of dairy may still agree with you. There are digestive enzymes and lactose free milk. And your lactose intolerance may go away over a few weeks as you slowly acclimatize to drinking milk.

That’s a very novel type of protein powder too. You may have more luck with something classic like whey protein isolate (which doesn’t have lactose—the sugar in milk—in it).

Good luck!

Scott Pilgrim

digestive enzymes from actual pineapples?
or will Pineapple juice do?

Shane Duquette

The more processing a food goes through the less cool stuff it’ll do. Less fibre, or vitamins, or perhaps digestive enzymes, etc. If you blend a pineapple up into a smoothie that’d probably be comparable to a fresh pineapple. If you juice it using a juicer, a little less. If you’re getting pasteurized store-bought juice, even less. At what point do you lose the enzymes? I don’t know :S

Derek

How the heck can you put on weight as a skinny guy if you have an intolerance to Dairy, Eggs, Nuts, and Wheat?! Those are like the primary muscle building foods right there. When you throw out Whey, Dairy products like Cottage Cheese, Milk, Almonds, Nut Butters, Eggs, and breads and pastas; What are you left with? Chicken, Rice and Brocolli at every meal? Yay…. (sarcasm)

Shane Duquette

Hey Derek,

It’s definitely discouraging when you’re faced with a lot of restrictions, but it’s definitely still possible. We have members who are following strict paleo diets (low carb, no potatoes or fruits, no grains, no legumes, etc), vegans, people with type 1 diabetes, people with Crohn’s disease. Just takes more cleverness.

My favourite muscle-building meal is chili cooked a dozen servings at a time. Pretty delicious, quick to cook the first time, very easy to reheat at your convenience. My second favourite recipe is stew, for similar reasons. Lately I’ve been trying to do the same thing with stir fries and curries to mix things up. None of these have dairy, eggs, nuts or wheat.

If you wanted a protein powder, instead of whey protein, for example, you could get rice/pea protein powder. Something like SunWarrior or Vega.

Does that help at all?

Ea

Hi Shane ,
I have been using maltodextrin after workouts for quite a while now, and it s working crazy good. The thing is gulping down 100grams of if started to give me nausea and i cant eat for like 3-4 hours afted that . This started a few weeks ago. Should i stop using it and eat food ? ( i really dont wanna do that)

Shane Duquette

Hey Ea,

Really glad to hear the maltodextrin has been helping!

I think the first step will be trying to narrow down why all of a sudden you’re getting nauseas. Your body has a bunch of regulatory systems designed to keep you weighing about the same as you did yesterday, last week, and last month. Eating easily digestible low fibre liquid calories is a brilliant way to slip under the radar of those various regulatory systems. However, oftentimes there’s only so much we can do to trick them. After a while your body realizes that you’re gaining weight and it tries to re-establish homeostasis.

The good news is that if you gain 20 pounds and maintain those gains for a little period of time, you may very well find that you naturally maintain that weight forever. Those same mechanisms start working in your favour, maintaining your new burly figure.

For now, maybe just take a break from the maltodextrin. Take a couple weeks off. Stop overeating. Maintain your gains. Regain some motivation. Remember what hunger feels like. Then go back to bulking 🙂

Perhaps have some fermented foods, onions, and plenty of fibre (fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, oats, etc). That should help your digestive system by encouraging a nice lush microbiome.

Does that make sense / help?

Brian

After every heavy workout I use a Blender Bottle, with 14 mL of milk and ~60 grams of whey protein and gulp it quickly.(I weigh 135 lbs and consume roughly ~120-150 grams or protein per day) After my most recent workout, I felt bloated, precisely on my lower abdomen, and terribly constipated. Is this normal, as for completely changing my diet? Or am I doing something wrong?

Thanks.

Shane Duquette

It’s pretty normal to have trouble digesting large amounts of protein if you suddenly start eating large amounts of protein. As far as I understand it, your body hasn’t prepared the digestive enzymes that it needs yet. This shouldn’t be harmful, and your body will in time start producing the digestive enzymes that it needs to efficiently digest all of that protein.

In the meantime though

With weightlifting you start with light weights, become stronger, progress to heavier weights. Similarly, you could consume smaller amounts of protein at a time, increasing that amount slowly—a little bit at a time—and gradually improve upon the amount that you can comfortably consume 🙂

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