Written by Rachel Eagleton, Running Science’s Nutritionist. Find out more about Rachel here:
Are you following a low FODMAP diet to manage your IBS symptoms? FODMAPs is short for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols which are a large group of dietary sugars. These sugars can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and fermented by bacteria to produce gas. Following a low FODMAP diet can help manage IBS symptoms.
Endurance runners often suffer from stomach problems. If you also suffer from a FODMAP intolerance, fueling for your long run can be quite tricky. Here’s some tips to help you focus on your running, rather than your stomach, or wondering where the closest toilet is.
Before your run
A couple of hours before exercise have a high carb, low fibre snack that is easy to digest. Some ideas are:
- a fruit smoothie from lactose free milk, 1/2 a firm banana and strawberries.
- low FODMAP cereal (eg gluten free weetbix) with low FODMAP fruit (e.g. blueberries, kiwifruit or a firm banana)
- low FODMAP toast with peanut butter and low FODMAP jam.
During your run
Once you are out running for longer than 75 minutes or so you should take on some carbohydrates to fuel your run. This will maintain blood glucose levels to fuel your muscles and brain. You’ll also get more out of your training session as you will be able to sustain the intensity for longer. However, if you want to use a commercial sports drink or gel you need to watch out for high FODMAP ingredients such as fructose or honey.
As far as I can see the handy Monash University Low FODMAP diet app hasn’t reviewed any sports products. So I have started going through them one by one. Please let me know if you come across any low FODMAP products so I can add them to the list.
LOW FODMAP SPORTS PRODUCTS
- GU energy chews – sweetened with tapioca syrup*, cane sugar, maltodextrin
- Clif bloks – sweetened with tapioca syrup*, cane syrup, maltodextrin
- Clif Gel – – sweetened with maltodextrin, dried cane syrup
- Tailwind– sweetened with dextrose, sucrose
- Huma Gel(only some flavours eg lemonade – not apple) – sweetened with cane sugar, brown rice syrup**, avoid any flavours sweetened with fruit purees
- Huck energy gels – sweetened with rice malt syrup, glucose syrup, avoid any flavours sweetened with fruit purees
- Winners Energy Gels – sweetened with maltodextrin
Caffeine is a considered as a Grade A supplement by the Australian Institute of Sport. Supplements are only rated Grade A if there is an evidence level that the supplement directly contributes to optimal performance. Caffeine reduces the perception of effort and fatigue, helping athletes push harder for longer and with a reduced feeling of pain. However, while not a FODMAP, caffeine can be a gut irritant. An option for athletes wishing to use caffeine is Revvies energy strips. Orally absorbed caffeine, such as that delivered by Revvies Strips may eliminate GI complaints due to caffeine use, while still providing the performance benefits. The sweeteners used in Revvies are low FODMAP.
* Tapioca syrup has not been tested by Monash University. However my understanding is that it’s a glucose syrup and as such should be low FODMAP
** I have assumed brown rice syrup is the same as rice malt syrup and as such is low FODMAP
These sports products should be low FODMAP Based on the recommended portion sizes of individual ingredients in the Monash University Low FODMAP Diet app at the time of publication.
The following products contain higher levels of FODMAPs and should be avoided:
- GU Gels (sweetened with fructose)
- Hammer gels (sweetened with apple juice concentrate)
- Endura gels (sweetened with fructose)
- Dried fruits like dates are also high FODMAP
After your run
Once you get home it’s time to refuel with a mixture of carbs to replenish depleted glycogen stores and protein for muscle repair. It’s often easiest just to follow your workout with your next meal. You could enjoy my favourite breakfast – eggs and low FODMAP toast with a side of spinach and tomatoes. Chocolate milk is a popular option (use cocoa, sugar and lactose free milk) or you could make a smoothie with lactose free milk (great source of protein), ½ a firm banana and strawberries.
A word on protein powders. Monash has tested pea protein and brown rice protein. However dairy protein has been demonstrated to be optimal for muscle recovery. Whey protein isolate powder should be low FODMAP but whey protein concentrates may contain lactose, which is high FODMAP. Read your label very carefully, or get in touch if you are having trouble navigating the labels
Remember if you are training for a big event, it is super important to try out your fuelling strategy well before the big day – never try anything new on race day! Have you come across any other low FODMAP sports supplements that have helped your running?
Are you training for an endurance event? Did you know that using a scientific approach to nutrition in a marathon takes, on average, nearly 11 minutes OFF an amateur runner’s finish time? My 8 week Endurance Nutrition programfocuses on supporting your marathon training with making nutritious food choices a priority so that you can get to the start line feeling great. On race day you will be armed with well trialled strategies that work for you and will help you run your best fuelled marathon, half marathon or triathlon.