It often happens that people suffer from their intestines without there immediately seeming to be a clear cause. In the medical world this is also known as the Irritable Bowel Syndrome, in short PDS. Complaints that occur here include abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, problems with stools or a swollen abdomen due to gas formation. It is not that you necessarily have to experience all these symptoms in order to have IBS, many people experience just a few of these complaints by eating certain foods. And that is precisely why FODMAPs are so important. "FODWAT ?!", we hear you think. Not surprising of course, because most people have never heard of it. In this article we explain what FODMAPs are and why it can help you reduce their consumption.
What are FODMAPs?
Let's start with the most difficult part, namely the abbreviation FODMAP. FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides (fructan & galacto-oligosaccharides, derived from wheat and legumes), Disaccharides (lactose), Monosaccharides (fructose) And Polyols (sugar alcohols). You are probably not much wiser now, so let's try to explain this a little more simply. FODMAPs are carbohydrates that are not properly processed by the small intestine. As a result, they end up in the colon where they are quickly broken down. This process, called fermentation, causes large amounts of gas which can cause bloating, abdominal pain or even diarrhea. No, not nice.
The tricky thing with FODMAPs is that its effect is not universal. Everyone responds differently to FODMAPs, which means that one person can eat everything he or she wants without any problems, while the other literally experiences problems with every product that contains FODMAPs. In addition, FODMAPs is not just one thing, but consists of different types of carbohydrates. It is perfectly possible that you react very violently to polyols, for example, but can eat dairy (lactose) and fruit (fructose) without any problems. In total, more than one million Dutch people seem to have certain complaints that seem to come from PDS.
The FODMAP diet
Because of these complaints and the versatility of complaints, the FODMAP diet has been developed in Australia. In short, this means that products containing FODMAP are eliminated from the diet until the symptoms subside or disappear completely. Once that is done, products are added and tested step by step, to determine exactly where the problem is for the person in question. In this way a diet can be composed that suits someone and that causes no problems.
What makes FODMAPs so important for someone doing strength training?
Well, apart from the fact that the above mentioned complaints are unpleasant for every person, it is extra unpleasant for someone who is bulging to build muscle mass. Large quantities of food are usually eaten during bulking, which can sometimes be difficult depending on your feeling of hunger. If you then also have a lot of trouble with FODMAPs that cause gas and abdominal cramps, it is no longer possible. In addition, it can even obstruct the absorption of all those valuable nutrients, so that it immediately gets in the way of your gains.
For that reason, it is important that you discover what FODMAPs are, discover which foods you react to violently and adjust your feeding schedule accordingly. Every food item is replaceable, so choose the best products you can eat at your leisure, without having to feel bloated at work or school every afternoon.
How do we recognize FODMAPs?
If you recognize the mentioned complaints from this article, it may just be that your body reacts violently to FODMAPs. To become aware of FODMAPs, it is important to pay attention to food labels and also to monitor allergens. Pay attention to fructose, lactose, polyols and gluten.
Fructose is naturally present in fruit, but the intensity of a reaction varies from fruit to fruit. That generally does not mean that you are not allowed to eat fruit at all, since they are full of vitamins. In addition, fructose is often found in syrups to which glucose-fructose syrup has been added, this is the variant that you would rather avoid, because healthy additions are often hard to find here.
Then we have lactose, the milk sugar that is actually found in all types of dairy. That is why it is advisable to look for lactose-free variants if you think this is a problem for you. Also experiment with different types of dairy. For example, some people suffer from milk, but can eat yogurt or curd cheese without any problems. In the field of protein supplements you have fortunately various options such as the Egg Protein or Zero Lactose Protein, but even a Whey Hydrolyzate will be well tolerated by most people with its low lactose content.
The following substance includes all polyols. Polyols are substances used to sweeten foods and come in many different types. Known polyols are isomaltose, maltitol, sorbitol and xylitol. These substances are often found in products such as chewing gum, bars and other processed foods. Many people experience discomfort from polyols. At higher amounts, they can also have a laxative effect by attracting a lot of moisture. This does not mean that you are not allowed to eat polyols at all, but it does mean that you have to take this into account if you know that you are sensitive to it.
Finally, we have the gluten, a group of proteins that occurs in various grains, in particular in wheat. The possible health effects of gluten have been discussed much more extensively in the past, so we will not go into that in more detail now, but bear in mind that these are also covered by FODMAPs. Products such as (wheat) bread, breakfast cereals and pasta are often the products that cause problems. Good alternatives are gluten-free bread (spelled is a good option), oatmeal, rice waffles, white rice or potatoes. As you can see, you really don't have to leave all the goodies, but it is important to look at your diet in a more targeted way.
To sum it up very briefly: Do you regularly have problems with your intestines? Then this can be due to FODMAPs. You can then try to remove all FODMAPs from your diet for a while. You do this by leaving dairy, avoiding products with polyols, avoiding fruit that is high in fructose, as well as glucose-fructose syrups and finally by avoiding wheat and other gluten-containing grains. Sounds like a tough task, but luckily you can eat plenty of other things that are healthy and delicious!
Then it takes time to determine how you react to it, normally about 6 weeks is advised. See how it works out for you and whether you notice that you have fewer complaints. If this is the case, beautiful! Then you can gradually start experimenting with different food groups. For example, go eat some dairy products again, but then omit the other FODMAPs. In this way you can determine for each food group what causes you complaints, or what not.
Let nutrition work to your advantage!
It takes a while to discover exactly what works for you and what doesn't, but if your gut is bothering you every day, it will be more than worth it in the long run!
Do you want a ready-made overview with whether or not a product is suitable? Then click here to the guidelines drawn up by the Martini Hospital in Groningen. They have done a lot of research into this and from page 4 you can see exactly which products are rich in FODMAPs and which ones are best left to stand.
Hopefully the FODMAP diet will help you so that food will work in your favor again!
Written by Mathias Jansen