Nausea while racing

I hope this topic is more common than i suspect.

I raced yesterday - MTB endurance based on 12 mile loops for ten hours. I quit after five laps b/c of nausea. This has happens to me frequently - i had horrible nausea during the 2nd half of the Leadville 100 three years ago. I find the sensations hard to describe - hopefully the points below help and are directional correct. (Context: CarboRocket in the camelback @ 50oz and 1 GU Gel each lap)

  • Sensation of ‘gulping’ air while drinking
  • Sensation of asphyxiation while drinking. I suspect this is the result of taking in nutrition while having an elevated heart rate and elevated respiration but i don’t take in nutrition while descending, (i’m too scared to do anything else with my hands)
  • Increased feeling of foregut pressure / bloat as the race progresses
  • Feeling of ‘sloshing’ in my stomach

I never deal with nausea in training so i am struggling to figure this out. Is it the adrenaline byproduct of the event? Should I change brands of nutrition? Should i drink more slowly? Is it normal to feel hypoxic from 1.5 seconds of not breathing while drinking nutrition at race pace?

Dang, i am frustrated by this - hoping that you all have some insight!


Don’t have the nausea, but definitely get the struggling to breath thing while trying to take in food at high HR / effort level.

Do you have issues with taking on these fuels while not riding? I’d suggest trying them out to see how your gut reacts to those products while off the bike. Could be that it just doesn’t sit well with you and you need to go for some alternate nutrition sources.

Sounds like a couple of issues 1. On breathing 2. On digestion.

On breathing, take some extra deep/quick breaths before drinking. Like mild hyperventilating. This will get rid of some extra CO2 and allow you to “hold” your breath for longer than normal when drinking. All you need is a few seconds to be able to swallow. So don’t need to go overboard with the hyperventilating thing.

On digestion, sounds like classic gut issues. One of the drivers may be due to you not drinking enough water with the carbs you are taking on board. And an over-concentrated mix of sugar is just sitting in your stomach. This could be due to the breathing problems preventing you from drinking enough.

Sounds like you need to try a different nutrition and hydration strategy.

I keep my nutrition separate from my hydration. This way I can drink more water if I need to settle my stomach, vs having no choice but to ingest carbs any time I take a drink.

Thanks guys.

Cerb - i occasionally do a recovery drink with the same mix, cutting back on the amount of mix and adding in some protein powder. No stomach issues then.

Dave - advice seems spot on. I need to decouple the issues and and isolate the problems. Do you carry water only and take on nutrition solely in gels and/or real food?

The drink mix sounds (hypothetically) so efficient but i have noticed that three scoops of mix in 24-26oz of water makes it super sticky and creates an almost thick(ish) viscosity…makes sense that it might not be sitting well in my stomach.

Thanks again for the advice!


Any chance you up your caffeine? Could explain a lot of those symptoms. Made the mistake in a few races. Any caffeine effects could be amplified by race anxiety.

Just water. Sometimes with electrolyte mix depending on what’s in the food I’m consuming.

I still haven’t found the perfect nutrition mix. I prefer solid food eg PB&J, cliff bars, but also use gels in races as they are easier to get down when riding hard. I still haven’t found the right mix for long 5+ hr race-pace rides. The combination of duration and intensity makes it a challenge I think.

@jascald did you try the Alberto Salazar sol’n and just go ahead and yak? You might be surprised how much that can help…

I’m not a doctor or a medical professional. I don’t normally yak during races. Any other disclaimers you can think of as well…

@Brennus - haven’t gone there yet. Will keep it in my back pocket as plan b :face_vomiting::+1:

I get nausea and stomach cramps from gels and/or to much sodium intake from electrolyte mixes. I have found a way around this by taking water only on the bike and replacing gels with baby food (in sachets). This also gives me some option away from all the sweet only options in sports bars, gels, and chews.

How is your dental health?
I’ve found having a few too many bacteria and cavities seems to worsen any stomach issues.

Nice creativity! What brand of baby food pouches do you use? Any way to tell the fructose/glucose content of them? Would be interesting to know this, as many baby foods are fruit-based which have a lot of fructose… which could lead to stomach issues

Have you had a concussion recently?

Most don’t list the fructose/glucose content but with so many options in baby food to can try a few and see what works. LINK The Plum Organic Banana and Pumpkin would be low fructose and easy on the stomach, also I find the rice custard easy to intake.

Do you have the same sort of intake on hard training rides as you do in races?

No recent concussion or dental hygiene issues (sans cavities).

@GC_Adam - I do take on nutrition during my training rides, but not at the volume i do for races. Most of my week is structured around TR (1 to 1.5 hour efforts) and i get out on the weekend for my long rides. My outside riding rarely (this time of year) exceeds four hours - the nutrition requirement isn’t what it is for a 5 - 10 hour race. I probably go too light on nutrition during my outside training rides but i always get home in the ‘nick of time’ before a bonk.

1 Like

I was thinking more about training your body to accept the intake of nutrition and experimenting with what your body like at a high rate more then nutritional requirements.

Revive of the post but I have read that if you eat too much this can cause nausea issues…I had nausea this past weekend at a long race and the only thing I can chalk it up to is eating too much. Went food heavy pbj, half banana, and 2 cookies. Should have probably just drank water for the next hour or so but chose drink mix and feel confident that’s what did me in. Still a guess though. I hit the next aid and had to sit and just drink water to get to feeling better.


I don’t have issues my my choice of drink or gels but in saying that I sometimes feel a little bit off for a few minutes if I drink too much in one go.
For example if on the mtb and I cram in a quick drink and have too much, less of an issue on the road where its easier to drink little and often.
I’m also a fan of drinking water or an electrolyte in conjunction with a carb drink. On the mtb that might be a bottle of water and carb drink in the hydration pack