Gastrointestinal (GI) problems are a common concern of athletes during intense exercise. Ultimately, these symptoms can impair performance and possibly prevent athletes from winning or even finishing a race. The main causes of GI problems during exercise are mechanical, ischemic and nutritional factors. Among the nutritional factors, a high intake of carbohydrate and hyperosmolar solutions increases GI problems. A number of nutritional manipulations have been proposed to minimize gastrointestinal symptoms, including the use of multiple transportable carbohydrates. This type of CHO intake increases the oxidation rates and can prevent the accumulation of carbohydrate in the intestine. Glucose (6%) or glucose plus fructose (8%–10%) beverages are recommended in order to increase CHO intake while avoiding the gastric emptying delay. Training the gut with high intake of CHO may increase absorption capacity and probably prevent GI distress. CHO mouth rinse may be a good strategy to enhance performance without using GI tract in exercises lasting less than an hour. Future strategies should be investigated comparing different CHO types, doses, and concentration in exercises with the same characteristics.
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