Dear Gu, why can’t I poo? Digestive issues with energy gels

I realized I was bonking at rest stop three during the Tour de Cure. The BF helped me re-energize.

[Please forgive me for being dark these past couple of weeks; travel has made it difficult to stay on top of blogging. I have several I’m working to publish ASAP, though! Thanks for reading.]

Pooping is something everyone does, but no one talks about. So be warned: I’m going to talk about poop in this post.

When I did Bike the Drive over Memorial Day weekend with my avid-cyclist boyfriend and a friend of his, I joined them on their second lap. They averaged around 18 to 20 mph the second time around, and I was keeping up — on a mountain bike.

In fact, I made Bike the Drive my bitch, as noted in my post from that day.

Since he was using the event as a training ride, my BF was downing orange-flavored Gu engery gels every so often. After about 3/4 of the say through the ride, I was starting to bonk a little. While still in the saddle heading south on Lake Shore Drive near the Gold Coast, I asked him to share. He obliged and handed me one. It was remarkable how quickly that bad boy kicked in. I picked up my pace and made it up the big hill at Grand Ave.

Fast forward to the Tour de Cure on June 13. On a whim, I decided to sign up for the American Diabetes 100K bike ride in Wheaton. The BF was already signed up, and I figured I could do it. I mean, I did keep up with him for 30 miles. Why not 60?

I bought my own Gu this time.

And — while it’s obvious I didn’t eat enough of those gummy energy supplements during the ride (I bonked BIG time on the Tour; check out my post for the breakdown) — I fear what would have happened to my body if I had properly fueled throughout the ride.

It took me a few days to realize it, but I was all backed up.





Being an avid eater of a balanced diet, chock-full of vegetables, I knew I wasn’t missing out on roughage. (I poop early and often.) The only thing that had changed in my diet during that period of non-movement was the Gu. And I didn’t even have a whole packet. I had half.

So I decided to Google Gu and poo (or, really Gu digestive issues) and see what other people have to say about this apparent phenomenon.

The BF said he’s heard of people having these sorts of issues with products like Gu. (Yes, we talk about poop. We’re that couple.)

Turns out he ‘s right.

At least one site points to Gu and similar products upset people’s stomachs during long events.

No one really talked about the, um, aftermath.

Have any of you had a problem going Number Two after consuming energy gels? And… is Gu at issue or are others problematic as well?


Filed under Bike the Drive, Digestive Issues, Energy Gels, Tour de Cure

6 responses to “Dear Gu, why can’t I poo? Digestive issues with energy gels

  1. kris

    Dear Kirsten,
    Thanks for the ahem, healthy, post.
    Does this require some sort of OTC medication or does it just, well, um “pass in time”?

    Thanks for the heads up.. I’ll skip the Gu. I’m not planning anything so ahem, extreme… At least you’re not racing to a port-o-potty mid-race…. Er… er… Bonus?? (low-five).

    (And um.. no, I don’t aspire to be gassy, either, thanks, Mark).

    Yes, guilty, yes.. bad puns are one of my most annoying qualities, sorry! (in addition to obscure similies and metaphors, which I’m sure I’ll will pop out unexpectedly, but we’re talking constipation, here… ).

    Instead of bars, I’m eating steel cut oatmeal, and adding unflavored whey protein powder and either nuts or flax seed oil (and some dried cranberries, fresh blueberries or blackberries, something yum). Yup. a Dr Oz thing. I realize this would be inconvenient DURING a run, though.

    Ok, does this mean we can skip back to solving the baggy underwear and bra issue in the next post? (as cute new undies being a perk of working out….) And many guys seem to have that chafing/bleeding nipple issue… does tape or a band-aid solve that?? (thank goodness for sports bras!).

    Sincerely and honestly.

    • Some use band aids. Others use moleskin. Yet another set of people just use body glide. For my pasties, I use moleskin. I’ve learned that the chafing nipples comes from a baggy shirt rubbing against it or a tight shirt stretching back and forth on my nips. It’s important for us guys to find the right shirt size/fabric or decide to use pasties to cover our nips. If George’s father decided to run over long distances, he’d probably bust out the “bro.”


      • kris

        Thanks Mark. Can’t avoid that mental picture… glad you are man enough to call them pasties, too. (And are not nipple-neglectful).

    • it passed in time. LOL!

  2. First, we need to coordinate better. I was at Bike the Drive AND I volunteered at Soldier Field 10 packet pickup and I still didn’t meet you.

    Second, I’ve never had that problem with Gu before. All it is is a concoction of sugar, electrolytes, antioxidants, and more sugar. If you’re hydrating, it’s supposed to absorb quickly in your stomach or in your small intestines.

    The times I was unable to poop was when I was overly dehydrated from a ride or a run.

    I know that intense amounts of sugar could shock the stomach during exercise. It happened to me at the Soldier Field 10. The Gatorade I grabbed was a bit too strong. The gels are supposed to be taken with water. I usually just let it sit in my mouth a bit and slowly sip water to get it into my system.

    Maybe you were just overly hydrated?

    My only REAL issue with energy food are Clif and Luna bars. I eat them before longer runs to I don’t get hungry half way in. Unfortunately for everyone around me. I’m gassy. Really gassy. So if you’re running CM10, please run faster than me. Thanks!


    • Mark — thank you for the thoughtful reply! And so honest. I am happy to know that there are others out there will to talk about pooping to better our athletic selves :)

      I feel like I was under-hydrated for the Tour de Cure, actually. But maybe without the water diluting the sugar, my body was like, “WTF?!”

      We should coordinate better! And I’ll try like hell to run faster than you for the CM10, but with my hurt foot it’s unlikely. I’ll bring a nose plug.