As a dietitian and athlete, I have dabbled in sports nutrition and personally participated in several half marathons, triathlons, and long distance road biking events over the years. Due to my IBS diagnosis, I have to be more selective on which products I reach for as I don’t want to be dealing with an IBS flare up mid-race. In this article, I will focus on low FODMAP sports supplements that help “fuel” your body during bouts of exercise. This includes everything from sports drinks and gels to blocks and hydration powders. If you enjoy the article, I’d love to hear about your favorite sports supplements in the comments!
Benefits of Sports Drinks and Electrolytes
Sports drinks provide hydration – the most important factor in sports nutrition. Sports drinks also contain a carbohydrate source and electrolytes to help maintain energy and prevent glycogen stores (stored carbohydrates) from becoming depleted.
There are a variety of low FODMAP sports drinks on the market containing a wide range of carbohydrate sources, electrolytes, protein, vitamins, and sometimes caffeine to help achieve hydration and quick nutrient absorption. When we sweat, we lose some of these electrolytes, therefore repletion is often needed during intense exercise especially in hot environments.
Sports drinks often contain the electrolytes potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium, which help balance our body’s fluid levels. If you often experience muscle spasm, weakness, twitching, or convulsions during and after exercise, you may benefit from a sports drink with electrolytes or even just water with an electrolytes tab.
There is no one size fits all approach to hydration as there are many variables such as size, fitness level, intensity of exercise, temperature, and more. It is important to hydrate well before, during, and after exercise. Fluid regulates our body temperature, lubricates the joints to keep them moving, transports nutrients so our body can use these for energy, and, of course, helps with digestion.
Hydration Hints from the American Council on Exercise:
- Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two hours before the start of exercise.
- Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
- Drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.
Low FODMAP Sports Drinks
Luckily for IBS sufferers, there are lots of low FODMAP sports drinks to choose from. Though you’ll need to watch out for fructose and high fructose corn syrup as these sweeteners are often added.
Also keep an eye out for sports drinks with protein as they often contain whey protein concentrate, a high FODMAP ingredient (unless lactase enzyme is added or label states suitable for lactose intolerance).
These rice based hydration drinks by Cera have been certified low FODMAP by Monash University.
- Ceralyte70 Hydration Pouch or Stick – Lemon
- Cerasport Hydration Powder Stick – Citrus
- Cerasport Ready to Drink Carton – Citrus
- Cerasport EX1 Hydration Powder Stick – Pomegranate Acai
These sports drinks are also low FODMAP, though have not been certified by Monash or FODMAP Friendly.
- Clif Bar and Clif Hydration – Lemon Limeade Flavor and Cranberry Razz Flavor
- Gatorade Fuel & Gatorade Fierce – all flavors. Though you should avoid Gatorade Endurance products as they contain fructose.
- Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Mix – Lemon & Lime, Strawberries, Strawberry Lemonade
- Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel – Naked Unflavored, Lemon, Mandarin Orange, and Berry
- Tailwind Nutrition Caffeinated Endurance Fuel – Green Tea Buzz
- Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier – all flavors
Low FODMAP Hydration Drinks
These low FODMAP sports drinks are also low in carbohydrates, so I would not recommend them as a fuel source. Think of them instead as purely hydration plus some electrolytes.
- Gatorade G2 & G Zero – all flavors.
- Powerade Zero – all flavors.
- Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Hydration Powder – Lemonade, Grape, and Orange
- Huma Low Calorie Drink Mix – Raspberry Lemonade
- Drink Simple – Maple Water
Low FODMAP Energy Gels
Gels are a portable, convenient and quick to digest carbohydrate source that can help fuel you before and during exercise. Many gels use fructose and other high FODMAP ingredients, so be sure to read the label. Here are a few of my top low FODMAP gel picks:
- Clif Energy Gels – Citrus Flavor with Caffeine, Chocolate Flavor, Vanilla Flavor, Double Espresso with Caffeine, Mocha Flavor with Caffeine, and Boston Cream Pie
- Gatorade Endurance Energy Gel – Mango, Vanilla, and Blackberry
- Huma Energy Gels – Lemonade and Cafe Mocha
- *Untapped Athletic Fuel – Coffee Untapped, Maple Untapped
*These fuels provide carbohydrates from maple syrup, a low FODMAP sweetener and come in individual stick packs.
Low FODMAP Electrolytes
Electrolyte tablets are designed to replenish lost electrolytes fast. Just pop a tablet in your water and drink – pretty simple.
Nuun Sport – Citrus Fruit, Grape, Strawberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Lemon Lime, Orange, Watermelon, Tropical, Tri-Berry, Wild Berry + Caffeine, Mango Orange + Caffeine, Cherry Lemonade + Caffeine, and Fresh Lime + Caffeine.
These Nuun tablets are great for hydration on the go. Nuun is a hydration and electrolyte drink as it contains only two grams of carbohydrates from dextrose plus sodium and potassium.
Nuun Podium Series Endurance Performance Hydration Drink Mix – Citrus Mango, Lemon Lime, Strawberry Lemonade + Caffeine
This sports drink contains sufficient carbohydrates and electrolytes to help fuel you during exercise.
Nuun Recover – Blackberry Lemonade and Lemonade
This is a post exercise drink that contains extra protein from branched chain amino acids + glutamine + carbohydrates, and electrolytes for a speedier recovery.
Tip: avoid the Prime Podium series as it contains inulin.
- Salt Stick Fast Chews – Orange and Lemon-Lime
- GU Hydration Drink Tablets – Lemon Lime, Strawberry Lemonade, and Tri Berry
Low FODMAP Chews
I love chews for long runs as I can time them to deliver the exact amount of calories and carbohydrates needed to fuel me. These are super portable and more precise when dialing in your nutrition.
- Bonk Breaker Chews – Tangerine Orange and Strawberry
- Clif Blocks – Citrus, Ginger Ale, Orange with Caffeine, and Margarita
Common Moderate & High FODMAP Ingredients in Sports Supplements
- Agave (unless sugar content is 5 grams of less)
- Chicory root or chicory extract
- Crystallized fructose
- Erythritol – this sugar alcohol is less likely to trigger IBS symptoms.
- Fructooligosaccharides or FOS
- Fructose syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate (apple, pear, etc)
- Fruit juice purees
- High FODMAP fruits such as peaches, mango, apple, pear, cherry, etc.
- High fructose corn syrup
- Honey (unless sugar content is 3 or less grams)
- Isomalto-oligosaccharide or IMO fiber
- NutraFlora – this is a prebiotic fiber
- Whey protein concentrate (unless label states suitable for lactose intolerance)
Want more label reading tips? Go here.
Low FODMAP Carbohydrate Sources in Sports Supplements
- Pure cane sugar
- Cane Sugar
- Maple syrup
Quick Note: Natural flavors are often added to add the sweet or fruit flavor. These are not of concern in sweet foods as they rarely contain high FODMAP ingredients. Even if your sports drink is labeled mango, it is very unlikely to contain actual mango if this fruit is not listed on the label.
What’s your favorite low FODMAP sports drink? Let us know in the comments below!