Low FODMAP Diet Could Help Runners with Gut Issues

by Sabrina Krebs

Overview: A new study led by scientists from Anglia Ruskin University and published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “found that a low FODMAP diet reduces some of the issues caused by exercise, such as stomach cramps and bloating, and improves a person’s perceived ability to exercise,” according to a Anglia Ruskin University statement. About 30 to 50 percent of runners experience GI issues . The researchers found that more than two-thirds of the study participants who eliminated FODMAPs from their diet were able to alleviate their gastrointestinal issues. For this study, FODMAP foods were defined as those containing lactose (milk, yogurts and cheese), fructans (found in cereals, breads and pasta), galactic-oligosaccharides (legumes and onions), excess fructose (for example, apples, pears and asparagus) and polyols (often used as food additives).

From the Research: “Research has demonstrated that low fermentable oligosaccharide, disaccharide, monosaccharide and polyol (FODMAP) diets improve gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome sufferers. Exercise-related GI issues are a common cause of underperformance, with current evidence focusing on the use of FODMAP approaches with recreationally competitive or highly trained athletes. However, there is a paucity of research exploring the potential benefit of FODMAP strategies to support healthy, recreational athletes who experience GI  issues during training. This study therefore aimed to assess whether a short-term low FODMAP diet improved exercise-related GI symptoms and the perceived ability to exercise in recreational runners.”

Article Citation: Wiffin, M., Smith, L., Antonio, J., Johnstone, J., Beasley, L., & Roberts, J. (2019). Effect of a short-term low fermentable oligosaccharide, disaccharide, monosaccharide and polyol (FODMAP) diet on exercise-related gastrointestinal symptoms. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 16(1). doi:10.1186/s12970-019-0268-9

Abstract Link: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-019-0268-9

How to apply:

  • Don’t eat large meals before running or exercising. Eat at least 30 minutes before you work out to minimize risk of GI discomfort.
  • Keep a food journal to monitor your eating patterns and how you feel during and after runs. It may be  some other food that is increasing your GI distress.
  • Do not completely eliminate FODMAP foods right away. Try out a low FODMAP diet first to see if you feel better during runs.
  • Some good low-FODMAP pre-workout snacks:
    • Banana with peanut butter
    • Oatmeal with strawberries
    • Cereal with non-dairy milk
  • Download this chart for low-FODMAP and high-FODMAP foods lists to reference anytime.
  • Other ways to avoid GI distress: stay hydrated before, during and after your run.

Also, you can take a look at the following here, here, here and here.

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