Athletes employ various dietary strategies in attempts to attenuate exercise-induced gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms to ensure optimal performance. This case-study outlines one of these GI-targeted approaches via the implementation of a short-term low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) diet, with the aim to attenuate persistent running specific GI symptoms in a recreationally competitive multisport athlete (male, 86 kg, 57.9 ml·kg·min-1 V02max, 10–15 hr/week training, with no diagnosed GI disorder). Using a single-blinded approach a habitual diet was compared with a 6-day low FODMAP intervention diet (81 ± 5g vs 7.2 ± 5.7g FODMAP s/day) for their effect on GI symptoms and perceptual wellbeing. Training was similar during the habitual and dietary intervention periods. Postexercise (During) GI symptom ratings were recorded immediately following training. Daily GI symptoms and the Daily Analysis of Life Demands for Athletes (DALDA) were recorded at the end of each day. Daily and During GI symptom scores (scale 0–9) ranged from 0–4 during the habitual dietary period while during the low FODMAP dietary period all scores were 0 (no symptoms at all). DALDA scores for worse than normal ranged from 3–10 vs 0–8 in the habitual and low FODMAP dietary periods, respectively, indicating improvement. This intervention was effective for this GI symptom prone athlete; however, randomized-controlled trials are required to assess the suitability of low FODMAP diets for reducing GI distress in other symptomatic athletes.
The authors are with the Sport Performance Optimization Research Team, School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia.