High FODMAP Consumption in Endurance Athletes and Its Relation to Gastrointestinal Symptoms

High FODMAP Consumption in Endurance Athletes and Its Relation to Gastrointestinal Symptoms

The Hidden Culprit in Athlete's Diets: FODMAPs

Endurance athletes are renowned for their remarkable physical feats, but what's less known is the common struggle they face with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. Interestingly, these symptoms mirror those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a condition affecting a significant portion of the population.

Recent research spearheaded by Lauren A. Killian and colleagues sheds light on this issue, focusing on the dietary patterns of these athletes, particularly their intake of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs). The study, involving 430 endurance athletes, delved into their dietary habits, especially around exercise times, and analyzed the FODMAP content in commonly consumed sports nutrition products.

Key Findings:

  1. High FODMAP Consumption: Athletes frequently indulged in high FODMAP foods, especially during pre-race dinners and breakfasts. Notably, over 60% reported consuming specific high FODMAP foods.

  2. Sports Nutrition Products: Many sports nutrition products favored by athletes were found to be high in FODMAP content, potentially aggravating GI symptoms during exercise.

  3. Habitual Diets and Symptoms: The study revealed a link between the habitual high FODMAP intake and the prevalence of GI symptoms among athletes.

  4. Dietary Strategies: Despite the established benefits of a low FODMAP diet in managing IBS, its application in athlete diets, particularly around exercise routines, remained unexplored until this study.

Understanding FODMAPs in Athlete Diets

FODMAPs, a group of carbohydrates known for their poor absorption and fermentation in the gut, have been linked to GI discomfort in IBS patients. Limiting FODMAPs has shown significant symptom improvement in about 70% of IBS patients. This revelation prompted researchers to explore its potential in alleviating GI distress in athletes.

The study utilized a comprehensive approach, including a food frequency questionnaire and FODMAP-specific analysis of sports nutrition products. It revealed that athletes' diets, both surrounding exercise and in general, are high in FODMAPs.

The Impact on Performance

GI symptoms can severely hamper an athlete's performance. The study underscores the need for careful dietary planning, highlighting the potential role of FODMAPs in causing these discomforts. With most sports nutrition products and pre-race meals high in FODMAPs, athletes may inadvertently be contributing to their GI issues.

Moving Forward: Dietary Considerations for Athletes

The findings point towards a crucial need for awareness and modification of dietary habits among endurance athletes. Integrating low FODMAP strategies, especially around exercise and in overall diet, could be key in reducing GI symptoms and enhancing performance. This approach requires a nuanced understanding of individual FODMAP thresholds and sensitivities, emphasizing the role of personalized nutrition in sports.


In conclusion, Killian et al.'s study offers a groundbreaking insight into the dietary patterns of endurance athletes and their potential impact on GI symptoms. By highlighting the high FODMAP consumption, both in daily diets and sports nutrition products, it paves the way for dietary interventions that could significantly improve athlete health and performance. The study is a call to action for athletes, coaches, and nutritionists to consider the hidden impact of FODMAPs and adapt dietary strategies accordingly for optimal athletic performance.

Read the full research article by clicking here.


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