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Gut Health and Exercise: Improving Workouts with Proper Nutrition


medically reviewed by Dr Godmi Tresa

Dr J S S Dev

Updated on April 03, 2024

In the current era of heightened fitness interest, exercises for gut health are gaining attention alongside traditional ab workouts. While familiar with six-pack exercises, people may be new to gut health exercises. Read more about these exercises, highlighting their connection to nutrition and workout performance.

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There is a strong connection between gut health and exercise. Scientific research indicates that having a healthy gut can significantly improve fitness and performance. 

The gut helps digestion and is crucial in nutrient absorption, maintaining energy levels, and assisting muscle recovery during physical activity. Here is how:

  • Your body requires essential vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients to fuel physical activity when you exercise. A compromised gut may lead to malabsorption, depriving the body of the necessary nutrients hampering exercise performance and the body's ability to recover post-workout.
  • A balanced and diverse gut flora helps extract energy from food, sustaining higher energy levels during workouts. In contrast, an imbalanced gut flora can lead to fatigue and reduced exercise capacity.
  • Furthermore, the gut is closely linked to the immune system, which is crucial for muscle recovery. Intense exercise can cause muscle damage, and the immune system is responsible for muscle repair. A healthy gut can aid the immune system in this process.

Prioritise a balanced fibre, probiotics, and prebiotics diet for improved gut health and exercise performance. Regular physical activity also benefits your gut flora, positively connecting fitness and well-being.

The Impact of Yoga and Exercise on Gut Health

Importance of yoga in promoting Gut health

Consistent exercise positively affects gut health, enhancing digestion and function. Physical activity supports a healthy gut, easing digestive problems.

Benefits of Exercise for Digestive System Health

Regular exercise can improve the efficiency of the muscles in the digestive system, resulting in better movement of food through the digestive tract and reducing the chances of bloating, gas, and discomfort. Exercise promotes regular bowel movements, preventing constipation and supporting overall gut health.

Specific exercises can target gut health and digestion directly. For instance;

  • Yoga and stretching routines can help relax the abdominal muscles, allowing for easier passage of food and waste through the intestines.
  • Aerobic exercises like jogging, cycling, or brisk walking can boost blood flow to the gut, improving nutrient absorption and waste elimination.

Constipation - A Simple Solution

Exercise aids gut health by combating constipation. Physical activity speeds up food movement in the colon, preventing excessive water absorption and leading to softer, more manageable stools. 

Exercises to relieve constipation immediately involve twisting and bending movements, such as yoga poses and waist rotations, which also help to stimulate bowel movements.

Breathing Exercises for Gut Health

Adding focused breathing exercises, like Pranayama, into your routine enhances gut health and mental well-being. These mindful practices aid digestion and positively affect the gut-brain connection, offering a dual benefit during workouts.

Belly Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is a helpful exercise for promoting gut health, known as belly breathing. To do this exercise;

  • Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. 
  • Breathe deeply through your nose, allowing your diaphragm to expand and your abdomen to rise.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth, feeling your abdomen fall. 
  • This technique activates the vagus nerve, which regulates digestion and gut function.

4-7-8 Breathing Method

Another effective way to reduce stress and induce relaxation is to practise the 4-7-8 breathing method. To practice this;

  • Take a deep breath through your nostrils for four counts.
  • Hold your breath for seven counts.
  • Exhale entirely via your mouth for eight counts.
  • Regular practice of this breathing technique can help mitigate the adverse effects of stress on digestion and reduce its impact on gut function through the gut-brain axis.

Practising mindful breathing triggers the body's relaxation response, lowering stress hormones that can impede digestion. These exercises foster gut health and enhance digestion by cultivating a composed mindset during workouts.

Pre-Workout Nutrition for Gut Health

Pre-Workout Nutrition for Gut Health.png

You might have heard about the pre-workout nutrition. Are we consuming food before working out to gain energy? What do you think?

Suitable pre-workout meals are vital to improving gut health and enhancing exercise performance. Prioritise balanced nutrition and optimal nutrient timing. Why? The answer is to sustain energy levels and support your gut during workouts. 

Consider the following guidelines when designing your pre-workout nutrition for gut well-being:

  • A balanced pre-workout meal should include carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Carbohydrates provide readily available energy, while proteins aid in muscle repair and recovery.
  • Healthy fats help slow digestion, providing a steady release of energy throughout your workout.
  • Easily digestible foods are best to promote gut health before exercising.
  • Avoid high-fat and high-fibre foods before exercising
  • Consider foods like bananas, oatmeal, or smoothies made with yoghurt and non-acidic berries.
  • Eating meals 1 to 3 hours before exercising allows proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Staying hydrated is crucial for gut health and optimising your workout. Drink plenty of water before you exercise to stay hydrated.

The Role of Post-Workout Nutrition in Supporting Gut Recovery, Muscle Repair, and Replenishing Nutrients

After a workout, hunger is common, yet mindful eating is crucial. Recognise post-workout nutrition's role in supporting gut health, muscle repair, and nutrient replenishment. 

Your post-workout meal profoundly affects recovery and fitness progress. Remember these factors when planning; 

  • Opt for easy-to-digest and gentle foods to maintain good gut health.
  • Include probiotic-rich foods like yoghurt or kefir to restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut.
  • Consume foods rich in soluble fibre, such as bananas or oats, to ease constipation and promote gut recovery.
  • Prioritise protein-rich foods in your post-workout meals to support muscle repair.
  • Lean chicken, eggs, or plant-based sources like lentils or tofu can be excellent options for muscle recovery.
  • Include a variety of nutrient-dense foods in your diet, such as leafy greens, colourful fruits, and whole grains, to replenish lost nutrients.
  • Proper hydration is critical for post-workout recovery and maintaining good gut health, so drink enough water to rehydrate your body and aid digestion.

Hydration and Gut Health during Exercise

Hydration and Gut Health during Exercise.png

Proper hydration is essential for gut health and overall exercise performance. Staying hydrated ensures your digestive system functions optimally during workouts. And thus, it supports a healthy stomach and enhances your fitness efforts.

During exercise, the body loses water through sweat, which can lead to dehydration if not replenished adequately. Dehydration can disrupt the digestive process, causing issues like constipation and discomfort. Maintaining proper hydration supports your gut's ability to process and absorb nutrients efficiently.

Maintaining Gut Balance During Workouts

Electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, are crucial in maintaining gut balance during workouts. These minerals help regulate fluid levels in the body and support muscle function. 

Hydration Tips to Balance the Gut

When you sweat, you not only lose water but also essential electrolytes. 

Replenishing these electrolytes through hydration helps prevent imbalances that negatively impact gut health.

  • Drink water consistently before, during, and after exercise for optimal hydration.
  • The water needed depends on exercise intensity, duration, and environmental conditions.
  • Consider consuming electrolyte-rich beverages or foods like bananas, oranges, and coconut water to replace lost electrolytes.

Nirva's Holistic Approach to Gut Health and Exercise

Our holistic approach to gut health and exercise is a comprehensive treatment plan that embraces Ayurveda, yoga, health coaching, and personalised nutrition. By offering individualised care, we empower women to prioritise their well-being and achieve their fitness and health goals. 

To Conclude

Maintaining optimal gut health and proper nutrition is essential for maximising the benefits of your workout routine. 

This blog has highlighted the significance of gut health in enhancing exercise performance and preventing various health issues. Don't let poor gut health prevent you from reaching your full potential. 

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