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Article: Eat Well, Feel Great: The Science Behind the Low FODMAP Diet

Eat Well, Feel Great: The Science Behind the Low FODMAP Diet

Eat Well, Feel Great: The Science Behind the Low FODMAP Diet

Are you tired of visiting doctor after doctor for your GI issues? And yet, relief isn’t at hand. Some go as far as to make your condition into a psychological or “imagined” one, with anxiety being the most frequent diagnosis.

But you know different. Why does it only seem to occur after being triggered? You’re in the right place. Millions of people suffer from IBS and other GI disturbances without a clear cause, but turns out, it might just be dietary. 

Read on to see if you might be able to experience relief, and possibly, elimination of your symptoms for the foreseeable future.

What is the FODMAP Diet?

Have you heard about the FODMAP diet? It's been gaining popularity in recent years, and for good reason. The FODMAP diet is a specific eating plan that focuses on reducing the consumption of certain types of carbohydrates known as FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols). These carbohydrates are found in a variety of foods and can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine, leading to digestive troubles for some people.

GI fermentation

The FODMAP diet has its origins in research conducted by a team at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, led by Dr. Sue Shepherd and Dr. Peter Gibson. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, they began investigating the role of certain carbohydrates in triggering symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Their groundbreaking work led to the development of the low-FODMAP diet as a way to manage IBS symptoms.

The FODMAP diet has become popular because it has been shown to be effective in managing many of the associated symptoms of IBS, with research suggesting that up to 75% of people with IBS may benefit from following a low FODMAP diet. 

Additionally, the diet has been explored as a potential management strategy for other digestive disorders, beyond the scope of IBS. 

While the FODMAP diet can be challenging to follow initially, many people find that the benefits are worth the effort. By identifying and reducing your intake of trigger foods, you may experience improved digestive comfort and a better overall quality of life. If you're considering trying the FODMAP diet, or wondering what it was, you’re in the right place. Let’s investigate further.

How the FODMAP Diet Works

If you're considering trying the FODMAP diet, it's important to understand how it works and a breakdown of the different phases involved. The diet is designed to help you identify which foods trigger your digestive symptoms and to create a personalized eating plan that minimizes those triggers. Let's take a closer look at the three main phases of the FODMAP diet, namely, elimination, reintroduction, and personalization.

FODMAP diet phases

The first phase is the elimination phase, which typically lasts 2-6 weeks. During this time, you'll completely remove all high FODMAP foods from your diet. This means avoiding many of the foods you’ll find listed in the sections to follow. It's important to work with a qualified dietitian during this phase to ensure that you're still getting all the nutrients your body needs, especially if you’re new to the science of nutrition.

After the elimination phase, you'll move on to the reintroduction phase. This is where you'll systematically reintroduce high FODMAP foods back into your diet one at a time to see how your body reacts (in essence, trigger testing).

You'll start with small portions of a single high-FODMAP food and monitor your symptoms over the next few days. If you don't experience any digestive issues, you can assume that food is safe for you to eat and move on to testing another high FODMAP food. 

If you do experience symptoms, you'll note that food is a probable trigger and continue to avoid it in the future. The reintroduction phase can last several weeks to a few months, depending on how many foods you need to test and how your body responds.

The final phase of the FODMAP diet is personalization. By this point, you'll have a good understanding of which high FODMAP foods trigger your symptoms and which ones you can tolerate. 

You'll use this information to create a personalized eating plan that includes a variety of low-FODMAP foods and any high FODMAP foods that you can safely enjoy. This phase is all about finding the right balance for your body and your lifestyle.

It's important to remember that the FODMAP diet is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some people may be able to tolerate certain high FODMAP foods without any issues, while others may need to avoid them completely.

In addition to the three main phases, there are a few other important things to keep in mind when implementing the FODMAP diet. First, it's important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day. 

Secondly, it's a good idea to keep a food diary to track what you're eating and how your body responds. This can help you identify patterns and make connections between certain foods and your symptoms. 

Finally, be patient with yourself and the process if a phase feels more difficult than others have said. It may take some time to figure out what works best for your body, but the end result of improved digestive health and quality of life is well worth the effort.

Benefits of the FODMAP Diet

Management Of IBS And Associated Symptoms

The mechanism behind the FODMAP diet's effectiveness lies in the way these short-chain carbohydrates are processed in your gut. When you consume foods high in FODMAPs, they pass through your small intestine undigested and enter your large intestine (colon). 

In the colon, these carbohydrates are fermented by gut bacteria, producing gas and drawing water into the intestine. This process can lead to bloating, abdominal distension, and changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, which are common symptoms of IBS.

associated symptoms of IBS cloud

By eliminating high-FODMAP foods from your diet, you reduce the amount of fermentable carbohydrates reaching your colon, thus decreasing gas production and water retention in the intestine. This, in turn, helps to alleviate the associated IBS symptoms. 

For example, reducing your intake of fructans (found in wheat, onions, and garlic) and galacto-oligosaccharides (found in legumes and beans) can help minimize bloating and abdominal discomfort. Similarly, cutting back on lactose (found in dairy products) and fructose (found in certain fruits and sweeteners) can help regulate bowel movements and reduce diarrhea or constipation.

The FODMAP diet is typically implemented in three phases: restriction, reintroduction, and personalization. During the restriction phase, you eliminate all high-FODMAP foods from your diet. 

This allows your gut to rest and recover, and you may notice a significant improvement in your IBS symptoms. In the reintroduction phase, you systematically reintroduce individual FODMAP groups (e.g., fructans, lactose) into your diet, one at a time, to identify which FODMAPs trigger your symptoms and at what quantities. This process helps you determine your personal tolerance levels for different FODMAPs.

May Assist With Weight Loss

When you embark on the FODMAP diet, you're making a conscious decision to eliminate certain types of carbohydrates from your diet. And, by removing these troublesome carbohydrates, you're not only addressing potential digestive issues but also setting the stage for weight loss.

One of the primary mechanisms by which the FODMAP diet contributes to weight loss is via simple calorie reduction. Many high-FODMAP foods, such as wheat-based products, certain fruits, and dairy, are also often high in calories. 

By eliminating these foods from your diet, you're naturally reducing your calorie intake. This calorie deficit is a key factor in losing weight, as your body starts to burn stored fat for energy when you consume fewer calories than you expend.

The FODMAP diet encourages you to focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods. When you replace processed, high-FODMAP foods with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and gluten-free grains, you're providing your body with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. 

Lean Double Pack

These nutrient-rich foods not only support overall health but also promote feelings of fullness and satisfaction, reducing the likelihood of overeating or binging on empty calories.

Another way the FODMAP diet supports weight loss is by improving gut health. When you consume high-FODMAP foods, they can ferment in your large intestine, leading to bloating, gas, and discomfort. 

This digestive distress can contribute to inflammation in your gut, which has been linked to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. By removing FODMAPs, you're allowing your gut to heal and function more efficiently, which can positively impact your metabolism and ability to lose weight.

It's important to note that the FODMAP diet is not a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. And yes, while the FODMAP diet can be an effective tool for weight loss, it's not a long-term solution. 

Healthy food choices for life, and the occasional help of Brickhouse Lean can break through plateaus like nothing else.

The goal is to eventually reintroduce FODMAPs in a controlled manner to determine your tolerance levels and maintain a balanced, sustainable diet that supports your weight loss goals and overall health.

Better Energy Levels

The FODMAP diet can significantly improve energy levels by addressing several key factors related to digestive health and overall well-being. One of the primary ways it achieves this is by reducing or eliminating high-FODMAP foods that can trigger symptoms such as bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. 

By minimizing digestive distress, which can be physically draining and lead to fatigue, the diet helps individuals feel more energized throughout the day.

The FODMAP diet also facilitates improved nutrient absorption by managing symptoms effectively. When the body can efficiently utilize nutrients for energy production, it naturally leads to improved energy levels. 

The balanced approach of the FODMAP diet, which includes a variety of proteins, healthy fats, and low-FODMAP carbohydrates, also plays a crucial role in stabilizing blood sugar levels throughout the day. 

This helps prevent energy crashes and promotes sustained energy release.

Better sleep quality is even a potential outcome of the FODMAP diet, as digestive issues can often disrupt sleep patterns and negatively impact overall energy levels during waking hours.

The FODMAP diet can also indirectly support better energy levels by improving psychological well-being. By effectively managing symptoms, the diet can help reduce stress, anxiety, or depression associated with chronic digestive discomfort. This, in turn, contributes to a more positive outlook and increased vitality.

FODMAP Food List

Foods to avoid on a low-FODMAP diet:

Oligosaccharides (Fructans and Galactans):

  • Wheat, rye, barley, and their derivatives
  • Onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks
  • Artichokes, asparagus, and chicory
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, and peas)

Disaccharides (Lactose):

  • Milk and milk products (cow, goat, and sheep)
  • Soft cheeses and yogurt

Monosaccharides (Fructose):

  • High-fructose corn syrup and honey
  • Apples, pears, and watermelon
  • Dried fruits and fruit juices
  • Agave nectar and mangoes

Polyols (Sugar Alcohols):

  • Sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and maltitol
  • Stone fruits (peaches, plums, and cherries)
  • Cauliflower, mushrooms, and snow peas
  • Sugar-free gum and mints

Foods Generally Safe To Consume After The Reintroduction Phase:


  • Carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, and tomatoes
  • Potatoes, squash, and zucchini
  • Spinach, kale, and lettuce
  • Green beans and bok choy


  • Bananas, blueberries, and grapes
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, and limes)
  • Kiwi, melons, and passionfruit
  • Strawberries and raspberries


  • Gluten-free bread and pasta
  • Rice, quinoa, and oats
  • Cornmeal and tapioca

Protein sources:

Radiance Peach Mango

  • Eggs, fish, and seafood
  • Chicken, beef, and pork
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Nuts and seeds (in moderation)
  • Whey and collagen protein powder

Dairy alternatives:

  • Lactose-free milk and yogurt
  • Hard cheeses (cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss)
  • Almond, coconut, and rice milk


  • Water, coffee, and tea
  • Low-FODMAP fruit juices (in moderation)
  • Coconut water and some types of alcohol (in moderation)

Challenges and Considerations

Starting a low FODMAP diet can be challenging, as it involves eliminating a wide range of common foods. Not surprisingly, one of the primary challenges is the restrictive nature of the diet, which can make it difficult to find suitable food options when dining out or attending social gatherings. 

Many staple foods, such as wheat-based products, onions, garlic, and certain fruits and vegetables, are high in FODMAPs and must be avoided during the elimination phase of the diet.

Another challenge is ensuring that the diet remains nutritionally balanced. As many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are restricted, individuals may struggle to obtain sufficient fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is essential to work with a registered dietitian to develop a well-rounded meal plan that meets all nutritional requirements while adhering to the low FODMAP guidelines.

Identifying hidden sources of FODMAPs is another pitfall that can also be difficult. Many processed foods, sauces, and condiments contain high FODMAP ingredients that may not be easily recognizable. 

Thorough label reading and familiarizing yourself with the various names of high FODMAP ingredients and additives is important for your success on the diet.

Reintroducing FODMAPs can also present challenges, particularly as it relates to patience. After the elimination phase, you systematically reintroduce FODMAP subgroups to identify specific triggers. 

This process requires careful planning, monitoring of symptoms, and time. It may take several weeks or months to determine which FODMAPs you can safely tolerate and in what quantities.

Lastly, the low FODMAP diet may not be suitable for everyone. Some people may find the diet too restrictive or may not experience significant symptom relief to justify continuing. 

Final Words

The FODMAP diet might seem restrictive, and a long and convoluted process for people that do not deal with the devastating effects of gastrointestinal disease. However, the significance of symptom relief experienced by sufferers is worth its weight in gold, since only those who experience it know the far-reaching implications of IBS and similar conditions.

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