Frequent & high intensity exercise; calorie-restricted or calorie-surplus diets: these are popular lifestyle-related recommendations for the reduction of weight, or management of weight.

But for persons with GERD are these recommendations generally safe and ideal?

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) relative to Asthma may not be a popular medical condition among our Jamaican population, however it is a condition that I am made aware of relatively frequently as program manager of O’Shane Bryant Fitness, when conducting a health history assessment with a member for the first time. Persons with GERD generally experience heart burn & acid reflux. This can be experienced at various points of the day, and/or after certain meals. Generally (from my experience), persons with GERD desire a fitness program that will assist them with weight loss, and dietary support  tailored towards their fitness goal(s).

Exercise, while therapeutic, is a stressor. An intense exercise program for a person without GERD can result in that person feeling nauseated, and/or vomiting, along with feeling fatigued. This is a feeling that many don’t like, but a feeling that many go after in training, so as to get the desired goal of weight loss. For persons with GERD, this should not be a targeted end result of an intense exercise program.  Once you begin to feel like your experiencing a reflux (burping), this should be your cue to not go over that point of intensity.

At this point, you may be asking:

“So how will I drop off the weight without being subjected to a high intensity  exercise program, and being pushed to the point of vomiting?”

My Answer: Through the combination of a moderately intense exercise program and strategic dieting.

Believe it or not, training at high intensities (aprx 80%-100% capacity), and being at the zone where you feel nauseous, or end up vomiting, isn’t the only way to shed weight through exercise, you can also shed weight through moderate (aprx 55%-79%) and even low (less than 55%) intensities. It all comes down to the exercise(s), the duration of a session, and/or sessions in a day or over a week, the frequency of sessions and the energy systems worked, all just to name a few. How you blend these together assists greatly with your efforts of weight loss. For example, instead of doing 10 sets of 100m sprints at 100% effort, a person with GERD could start off jogging for 10 minutes.

In the area of dieting, persons with GERD are typically advised by their doctors to avoid certain foods such as: citrus, chocolates, tomatoes & tomato products, spicy & greasy foods. Now this may not appear as an issue at first glance, I mean, to be told that you are to stay away from greasy food would help you greatly on your cause of weight loss. However, when you consider the dietary uniqueness of persons–food allergies, medication(s), foods they don’t eat for religious reasons, their timing of meals due to religious reasons, all just to name a few–greasy food, and/or chocolates though understood to not be ideal, may be the go to food for comfort, energy and satiety. As a general rule to assist yourself with coping with a restricted diet, be realistic and understanding with yourself. And ask that your health partners  be understanding with you also. Chances are you wont transition smoothly into restrictive dieting, while consuming the ideal nutrients (macro & micro) at the right time, in the right portions in support of your desire of weight loss. And this will take learning, relearning and commitment over a defined period of time. The major importance is a structured dietary plan with an accountability partner who will assist you towards being consistent in your efforts over a defined period of time.

GERD like any other medical condition, with the right understanding and approach doesn’t necessarily equate to a reduction in our quality of life. And in the context of weight loss, having GERD as a condition doesn’t mean you cannot realize this goal, what it does mean is a slightly different exercise & dietary program design approach, relative to a person without GERD, and it may mean a need for greater patience in all relevant parties.



Oshane Bryant & Stacey-Ann Rickettes

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