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Q: During evening run workouts, I get such bad heartburn that I have to take antacids. Is there something I can change in my diet to prevent this?
A: Likely (and luckily) yes! I work with people of all ages and abilities who struggle with the discomfort of reflux or heartburn. It is generally described as chest pain and burning, and is a result of inadequate closing of the lower esophageal sphincter, leading to a leaking of stomach acid and irritation of the esophagus. If you experience consistent heartburn, avoid the Four C’s (especially before a workout): caffeine, citrus, chocolate and carbonation, as well as fried and high-fat foods, all of which can be triggers. Keep your lunch and pre-training snack free of tomato, tomato soup, tomato sauce and raw onion. Try smaller, more frequent meals and snacks rather than three large, square meals per day—a good rule for all triathletes. Also avoid overly tight-waisted clothing both pre- and during workouts, and consider your bike position carefully, as a very aggressive, closed position can trigger more reflux symptoms on the bike.
Lauren Antonucci, R.D., is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, three-time Ironman finisher and the founding director of Nutrition Energy in New York City.
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