Sometimes it can be hard to find that workout motivation, especially in the winter months. Cold mornings are for sleep ins and cold evenings are for tea by the fire, but we still need to get in our regular exercise. Common solutions to this problem are afternoon pick me ups and pre-workout supplements, however for people with IBS these can be limited.
Are pre-workout supplements suitable for IBS sufferers?
There are many products on the market within the Australian +5 billion dollar supplement industry that promises amazing workouts and infinite energy. These products contain ingredients such as nitrous oxide, taurine, colours and flavourings, as well as creatine and often confusing sounding additions like L-Citrulline Malate and Beta-alanine for muscular endurance, blood flow and mental concentration.
For FODMAPers the major two ingredients in these products to look out for are caffeine and artificial sweeteners as they don’t always well tolerate on a low FODMAP diet. Some artificial sweeteners are high FODMAP while large quantities of caffeine are often not tolerated by people with IBS. Some pre-workouts contain upwards of 300mg of caffeine and different levels of sucralose, xantham and other artificial sweeteners that aren’t named on the label.
The evidence supporting the use of pre-workout supplements is conflicting and limited. Regardless of whether you suffer from IBS, the use of a pre-workout supplement is most likely unnecessary. For those with IBS, pre-workout supplements are particularly not ideal due to their common gut side-effects such as diarrhoea and nausea.
Now you may be thinking, how am I supposed to fuel my gym session now!? Easy – save your cash and opt for food instead. Let’s not forget that food = fuel!
Best low FODMAP pre-workout options
Our best advice for pre-workout fuel is coffee or a meal/snack high in low FODMAP carbohydrates. This is mainly due to the number one rule of food first, which coffee can fit into. Caffeine in coffee is a stimulant that increases energy and comes with the performance benefit of reducing the feeling or perception of effort/fatigue during exercise.
Unfortunately caffeine is one of the main irritants for people with IBS. If partnered with milk, the lactose content can create unwanted discomfort before your session. If you can tolerate caffeine and you know your limits don’t be afraid to have a small long black or tea an hour before the track or gym. But ensure you aren’t overdoing it and can’t sleep that night… It’s best to stop caffeine intake at least 10 hours before going to bed.
If you’re a go getter and are doing those early morning sessions before work and can’t stomach coffee, try these ideas, they will help to a) not train on an empty stomach and b) get that hit of energy we crave from coffee:
- Fruit: Pineapple, mandarin or a just ripe banana
- Fluid: Lactose free milk with maple syrup
- Supplement: Revvies energy strips
When we’re exercising we are using our food from during the day or night before to provide energy and make us move. This is why athletes eat so much, to perform better. Food first is a great rule to remember when fuelling for sport or looking for that energy boost. Sports Dietitians Australia has some individualised factsheets on specific food options for each sport. Main tips for your pre-workout meal are making it;
- Rich in carbohydrates (fuel your muscles)
- Low in fibre/fat (decrease gut irritation)
- Easily digestible (for comfort) and
- Suitable for the exercise load ahead (body composition goals, performance needs)
Some low FODMAP options from our recipes include:
Bigger meals (3-4 hours before workout):
Smaller meals (1-2 hours before workout):
It is also best to stay hydrated throughout the day (water is best) and getting a workout partner as they keep you accountable, bring out competitiveness, make things fun and are also…. free.