How to avoid nausea after exercise

How to avoid nausea after exercise
  • PublishedJuly 2, 2020

Most times after boot camp workouts or high-intensity interval training, we normally feel like throwing up. If you ever find yourself with a feeling of nervousness, uneasiness, or anxiety after a challenging workout, know this: it is nausea after exercise or exercise-induced nausea.

Wanting to puke after exercise is a common negative effect but easy to deal with in most cases. In this article, we are going to look at how to avoid nausea after exercise, what to do in case it happens during exercise, and when to back off for the body’s sake.

What is exercise-induced nausea?

The undesirable phenomenon where someone suddenly collapses and wanting to puke after a high-intensity exercise is what is known as exercise-induced nausea or nausea after exercise

Exercise-induced nausea is not an indication of your overall physical performance. It affects all people regardless of the level of physical fitness. It is not meant for people of minimal training experiences. 

Nausea and the digestive system

With nausea, our digestive system is to blame. Exercise interrupts the gastrointestinal tract (GI), leading symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and queasiness.

During a high-intensity workout, blood is distributed to the muscles to promote nutrient and oxygen distribution. This leaves little blood to circulate to the stomach and intestines. As a result, nausea or vomiting responses are triggered.

The gastrointestinal system does not get the required support when your body moves blood to the muscles being worked out. Some workouts demand more blood flow compared to others. For example, leg workouts require more blood. This means that you are more likely to be nauseated during leg workouts. 

What causes exercise-induced nausea?

Some of the things that are commonly thought to increase your chance of nausea include;

The food you eat and when you eat it

This is a major player in exercise-induced nausea. Eating a large meal just before a boot camp makes you prone to stomach upset after workouts. On the other hand, skipping meals or not eating enough protein and carbs can also lead to nausea. 

With a too-full stomach, the system won’t have enough time to properly digest. An empty stomach will always make a hollow bubbling sound and you are more likely not to finish your exercise since you lack sufficient energy to sustain the workout.

Look out for the foods you should eat before and after exercise from our article here


Much as we need to be hydrated, we shouldn’t overhydrate. Too much water will dilute your electrolyte levels, leading to hyponatremia, the low sodium concentration in the blood. This in turn leads to nausea.  

Increasing Intensity of the workout

High-intensity exercise increases the chance of nausea during workouts. Blood flows to the muscles and organs you’re working such as the heart, lungs, and brain. This implies that less blood is distributed to the digestive organs. This puts a pause on the processes that break down food in your stomach triggering nausea.

Beginning and ending exercise too abrupt

Our internal organs feel jarred when we begin or end a physical activity abruptly, just like the muscles feel. Therefore, take some time to warm up before workouts and slow the pace gradually towards the end of a workout.

Working too hard

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

When you work too hard than what the body can manage, you’re putting a strain on your body that is over and above its norm. This leads to blood pressure and heart rate fluctuations. With this, there can be irregular and inconsistent blood flow to the brain, which results in dizziness, weakness, and nausea after exercise.

Different ways of how to avoid nausea after exercise

Below are some of the tips that can help you avoid nausea after exercise.

1. Since starting and stopping abruptly during exercise can cause nausea, always warm-up and cool down before and after exercise to stretch muscles and ease your heart rate into and out of target zones to avoid injury.

2. Avoid eating just before the workout. This allows the body sufficient time to digest the food and get sufficient energy for the workout. Aim at eating 3hours before the workout and focus on easily digestible foods.

3. Don’t overhydrate as too much water dilutes your electrolyte. Take moderate amounts of water before, during, and after a workout.

4. Swap your current exercise for that which bounces you around less. For example, you can swap the elliptical for indoor exercises like indoor cycling.

5. Consider full body workout exercises that allow equitable distribution of blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the whole body. This solves a problem of a shortage of blood in the GI tract during workouts.

6. Do not push hard, progress through your fitness level in stages. Pushing beyond your limits may strain your muscles and joints. 

What foods should I eat to prevent nausea after exercise?

Even though nausea cannot disappear completely, some foods can help lessen the symptoms and get you back to order. These include;


Starchy foods such as crackers can absorb stomach acid and ease nausea. You can eat a handful of simple crackers 30 minutes before your run.


Image by siala from Pixabay

Ginger is known for quieting an upset stomach; this may help relieve mid-workout nausea. According to the study published in phytochemistry, Gingerol, the chemical compounds found in ginger may aid the digestion process to help alleviate nausea

Nut butter

Even though nut butter is high in fat, which is believed to be capable of stomach upset before exercise; small portions may help reduce nausea due to the sodium content therein.   

Whole grains

Normally, when the glycogen stores are too low, nausea sets in. Carbohydrates for example whole grains act as energy capsules. They release the energy into the bloodstream and help in suppressing appetite.  

Coconut water

This is a good source of electrolytes for example; sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. People easily lose these electrolytes through sweat. Coconut water is one way you can rehydrate the body and reduce nausea.


Yogurt provides gut-friendly bacteria that keep nausea and stomach problems at bay. Try yogurt regularly before you start on any exercise.

What happens if nausea takes place during exercise?

Normally, nausea is a signal that we are either pushing ourselves or that we not resting enough between sets. Therefore if it happens midway the exercise, do not ignore it. 

To ease the situation, cut back on your intensity or walk around at a slower or moderate pace. Do not be tempted to stop immediately as this may worsen the situation because of a massive change in where the blood flow is going in a short time. 

How long does nausea last after exercise? 

 If the nausea is mild to moderate response following exercise, it will subside within 60 minutes. But if it happens and stays longer than necessary, you may be required to get medical attention from a doctor in case of an underlying problem.

Bottom line

In a nutshell, even though exercise-induced nausea is unpleasant, it will not break your bones or hurt you. If it’s a mild to moderate response immediately the following workout, it is normal and will subside within 60 minutes. But if it continues to linger, you may have to see a doctor for a check-up in case of an underlying health condition. 

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