Digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bloating, and cramping are very common and can span all age groups. If you have been diagnosed with IBS or you just suffer from bloating, excessive gas, or other symptoms, then it’s important to ensure your diet avoids inflammatory triggers as far as possible.
This is where a FODMAP diet comes in.
FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols” which are essentially a collection of different short-chain carbohydrates that are more difficult to digest and assimilate than others.
Whereas most carbohydrates and other nutrient groups will be digested, absorbed, and assimilated by your intestine to then be drawn into your bloodstream, FODMAPs are not broken down as easily and end up reaching the very end of your digestive tract where the majority of your gut bacteria can be found.
These bacteria then have a field day utilising these carbs as an energy source of which the by-product is hydrogen gas. This gas is largely responsible for symptoms such as bloating, cramping, and other digestive sensitivities.
As stated above, FODMAPs are carbohydrates, which may paint an image in your mind of rice, pasta, and grains. However, they can take many forms and common high FODMAP foods include:
Most of these categories are fairly easy to replace with low FODMAP alternatives so if you do suffer with IBS or other digestive issues, you don’t necessarily need to worry about missing out on tasty food, nutritious food, or your everyday foods.
For example, cow’s milk can be replaced with oat milk or other plant-based alternatives and produce that causes gastrointestinal symptoms can be replaced with those that don’t!
Generally speaking, most health supplements will not contain any fillers or other substances that are FODMAPs, which means that if you have IBS or other digestive sensitivities, you should be fine to take supplements to compliment your diet.
There are exceptions to every rule of course, and logic states that supplements derived from high FODMAP foods will subsequently be unsuitable for people needing to avoid high levels of FODMAPs in their diet (for example, agave and chicory root).
Some supplements will contain high FODMAP ingredients too such as milk solids or sweetening agents such as xylitol so you should read supplement labels carefully before using.
If you’re beginning a weightlifting journey or are looking to enhance your physical fitness and muscle strength, then a creatine supplement may be a tempting option. If you’re concerned about introducing a creatine supplement into your regime for fear it may increase your FODMAP intake, the odds are pretty high that you don’t need to worry.
Where creatine is involved, in most cases, FODMAPs will not be an issue. On a base level, creatine is a compound that occurs naturally in the body and can be found in foods such as meat and fish which are usually low FODMAP foods. Creatine is also found in dairy products but if you’re on a low FODMAP diet, you’ll be avoiding dairy anyway.
Creatine supplementation can take the form of pills/capsules, powder, or liquid creatine. Most of these products should be safe for you to use (although due diligence will never go amiss – always read those labels!).
Many people who take creatine powder like to mix the powder with milk to create a pre-workout shake. If you do take the powder route and your digestive system is sensitive, then stick to mixing the powder with water only.
A lot of the risk management where FODMAPs and IBS are concerned will come down to using products sensibly and responsibly: do your research, talk to your doctor, don’t mix creatine with high FODMAP foods or beverages.
If you’ve been placed on a low FODMAP diet and find yourself having trouble knowing what you can eat and what supplements work for you, it’s a good idea to try and monitor your diet quite closely. Having a food diary can be a good way to track what you’ve ingested and whether you’ve had any gastrointestinal reactions as a result.
It’s easy to get busy and accidentally eat something you shouldn’t, so having a food diary where you can quickly jot things down may help you to identify whether a certain food is triggering your symptoms or not.
Building a diet plan in conjunction with your doctor or dietician can also be a helpful way to get an at-a-glance idea of what you should eat and what you should avoid. It can be hard thinking that you might have to miss out on your favourite food but having a diet plan can help you to identify problematic foods in order to find suitable substitutes.
A low FODMAP diet doesn’t have to be a difficult diet for people with a food intolerance or sensitivity; it’s just about finding what works best for you.
Creatine in and of itself is not a high FODMAP substance. The problem with creatine comes in when you begin mixing it with high FODMAP foods or if the particular supplement you’re using contains inflammatory ingredients.
With careful moderation and a sensible diet, taking creatine supplements should not affect your IBS or cause a symptom response. No one wants unfavourable symptoms, so as long as you know your body and take care to avoid triggering foods and ingredients, you should be absolutely fine taking creatine.
Don’t let a little tummy trouble stop you from living out your weight training goals!