30-50% of endurance athletes experience gastrointestinal issues whilst training and competing.

This can lead to underperformance and in some cases, the inability to complete an event or training session.

Previous #D2EW episodes have covered how to mitigate gut issues on race day – such as training the gut prior and following appropriate fuelling strategies during.

But are there any additional dietary modifications we can implement leading up to a race or event to abolish gut issues?

Last year, Wiffin et al (2019) examined whether following a low FODMAP diet for 7 days can improve exercise related gut issues and their perceived ability to push harder during their normal running sessions.

Before squeezing the juice, what are FODMAPS?

Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharaides and polyols (FODMAPs) are short-chain carbohydrates that are widespread in the diet in foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, wheat, grains, legumes, and are commonly added to processed foods to improve taste.

The major types of FODMAPs known to be problematic are fructose, lactose, oligosaccharides and polyols.

Generally, FODMAPs are poorly absorbed in the gut causing fermentation (gas production) and an increased osmotic load (fluid retention). This combination is undoubtedly a perfect storm for gastrointestinal distress and can impair performance…

If you know, you know.

You may have heard this type of diet being prescribed to patients with IBS. This is for a very good reason as research shows that it can reduce IBS symptoms by ~75%.

But, does it work for athletes who don’t have IBS? Yes, in 69% of the participants.

Interestingly, the most improved symptoms being perceived pain and bloating. That being said, some individuals didn’t experience large differences, so it’s very much an inter-individual response.

Exercise reduces gastric emptying, meaning that foods/gels/drinks consumed during will have slower rates of absorption and ‘hang about’ in your gut. When athletes combine this with a high FODMAP diet containing poorly absorbed nutrients, it can further exacerbate this issue and wreak havoc with your guts.

Knowing this, is it worthwhile reducing the FODMAP content of your diet leading up to an important event?

Well, this is something that I use on a short term basis with athletes with great success to ensure we keep gut issues to a minimal and performance to a maximum.

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