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Exercising is supposed to help improve your health, aid in weight loss and build muscle. Sometimes, bloating can occur after working out -- which seems counterproductive to your fitness goals. Bloating after a workout is a common occurrence and does not necessarily mean that anything is wrong. Consult your doctor if your bloating does not improve.
Whenever you start a new exercise routine, or you dramatically change the routine you're doing, your body is in for a shock. The new exercise is such a surprise that your body gets confused. Instead of quickly adjusting, it treats the new workload as a crisis of sorts and causes your body to retain water for the perceived emergency it is experiencing. Instead of filtering the water out of your body through your kidneys, it holds onto more water than usual causing you to bloat. Although you may be inclined to limit water intake, it is important to remain well hydrated before, during and after a workout to prevent other complications.
Hyponatremia occurs when the sodium in your body is too low. Hyponatremia that causes bloating occurs after too much water is ingested without the needed electrolytes to keep your body in balance. This problem occurs more often after extended periods of exercise, such as long periods of training and marathons. It is only truly diagnosed by a blood test and requires prompt medical treatment.
If you are bloating after workouts because you're new to exercising or you've recently ramped up your workouts, the bloating should resolve as your body adjusts to the new physical demands. On average, this takes approximately two weeks. If you notice the bloating does not improve or gets worse, see a doctor for evaluation to rule out any other medical problems.
To function properly and at optimal levels, your body needs good nutrition before and after your workouts. Avoid refined sugars and opt for foods with a lower glycemic index. For example, choose a sweet potato instead of a white one. Adding foods with high vitamin C content may help counteract cortisol levels that are causing you to retain the fluids in the first place. Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits to increase your vitamin C intake.
If you workout for an extended period of time, talk to a sports medicine physician or nutritionist for recommendations regarding the required amount of water and salt for your individual body. While it is necessary to drink water to replace fluids lost through sweat, it is possible to over hydrate yourself. Sports drinks with added electrolytes may help prevent dehydration and hyponatremia, thus preventing bloating, but it is not an acceptable treatment if your sodium levels are already too low.