Can I Lose Weight on a Low FODMAP Regimen?
Last updated: April 2019
Yes, but no!
It is important to understand that first and foremost, the low FODMAP way of eating is not for weight loss. It has never been intended for weight loss and should not be initiated for the purposes of weight loss. It is often referred to as the low FODMAP diet which I, as a clinician, personally detest. The word ‘diet’ has an inherent stigma inferring a need for weight loss and/or attention to body image. Hence, with my patients and even as written word in my clinical notes, I refer to the low FODMAP way of eating as a ‘regimen.’
Unintentional weight loss on the low FODMAP regimen warrants an immediate evaluation with your doctor and re-evaluation of your dietary practices.
Okay, got it. So can I still lose weight?
Yes, but let’s be clear about a few things:
- Consumption of low FODMAP foods alone does not magically cause weight loss.
- Exchanging high FODMAP foods for low FODMAP foods does not substitute or downgrade your total number of calories consumed.
- Weight loss can be achieved by intentional caloric restriction complemented by regular, moderately intense exercise at least 3 times per week for 30-60 minutes per session.
- Pursuing a low FODMAP regimen with the goal of reducing abdominal discomfort with the concomitant goal of weight loss is not impossible but very challenging.
- Portion Sizes = Portion Control
Identification of a FODMAP trigger is important but re-introduction is critical. When we eat more than a certain quantity threshold unique to our body, then we may have more bloat and distention. Beware of this when increasing the quantity in an individual portion.
If weight loss is your goal, you should work with a health care professional as to what a healthy amount of caloric restriction to pursue. From there, I recommend you make those calories FODMAP friendly. I suggest meal prepping once a week and planning for 5-6 meals a day. Each meal should be small portion but frequent enough to ensure you won’t get hungry. This will limit too much of a FODMAP trigger at any one meal, ensure caloric compliance and help you promote steady but sustainable weight loss.
What do you recommend for weight loss on a low FODMAP regimen?
I would prioritize which goal is most important for your quality of life, decreasing abdominal discomfort or weight loss. Sure you may think both are important but identify one. Pursuing both is frustrating. Focus on one goal and push that first.
I recommend consultation with a health care professional and nutrition specialist. When weight loss is pursued, you may experience improvement in your GI symptoms. If you find your energy to exercise is severely limited by abdominal discomfort, then you should definitely consult with your doctor and consider whether focusing on dietary regimens is necessary first.
Exercise is key. Even if your daily routine involves a lot of physical activity, your body needs to be challenged with a level beyond your normal routine. No challenge means no more caloric expenditure required. If you challenge your body, it will require more calories. A healthy restriction on those calories by increasing caloric burn with exercise enables healthy weight loss.
The difference between exercise for weight loss and exercise for physical fitness in IBS
Exercise for physical fitness does not have to be for the purposes of weight loss. Exercise is a wonderful way of letting out stress, releasing natural feel-good endorphins and has been demonstrated to reduce symptom severity in IBS patients in several clinical studies.
The low FODMAP regimen is not designed for weight loss. Working with a health care professional team skilled in weight loss while pursuing a low FODMAP regimen is recommended. Physical fitness can improve IBS symptom severity without having to lose weight. Stay motivated on your fitness journey, I wish you all the best!
Do you suffer from IBS-C, IBS-D, or IBS-Mixed/Alternating?