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Why is stomach distension so common among professional bodybuilders?

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Quick Answer

Stomach distension is common among professional bodybuilders because of the athletes' size and the amount and type of food they consume to maintain it, according to Iron Magazine. When the digestive system attempts to accommodate modern bodybuilding food requirements, stomach distension is the result. Food-related factors that contribute to the condition include digestive waste that the body does not eliminate and gluten intolerance. Many bodybuilders develop stretched abdominal wall muscles, especially the transverse abdominis, which can cause stomach protrusion.

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Full Answer

To maintain the level of fitness they desire, 250- to 300-pound bodybuilders consume about 700 to 1,000 calories per meal about five to seven times each day, reports Iron Magazine. Repeated high food consumption combined with the bodybuilders' training style weakens or stretches the flat transvers abdominis muscles underneath their abdominal muscles, leading to stomach bulges.

Bodybuilders' diets typically consist of processed carbohydrates, meat proteins and little dietary fiber, explains Iron Magazine. High-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains play an important role in keeping digestive tract walls clean. Bodybuilders consume large quantities of food, increasing their need to consume soluble and insoluble fiber in their diets for proper digestion. The athletes' lack of sufficient fiber intake enables pounds of digestive material to accumulate permanently, causing stomach distension.

About 15 percent of Americans are gluten intolerant, and the digestive condition causes gas, bloating and stomach pain, notes Iron Magazine. Some bodybuilders may be unaware that they are gluten intolerant, and their gluten-heavy diets may contribute to the cause of their distended stomachs.

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