IBS Workout Food

What to eat when you have IBS and work out?

When I started working out, it was impossible to find food that didn’t cause flare-ups. Granola, rye bread, yoghurt, prunes, whole wheat crackers, brown rice, avocado, these are just some of the recommended workout foods that are off-limits to me.

One of the reasons you’ll never see a meal plan tailored to IBS is because food intolerance conditions are bafflingly individual, meaning what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Each woman with a food intolerance has to figure out what she can eat through a process of trial and error that begins with an elimination diet.

What is an elimination diet?

An elimination diet is process of eliminating foods in order to identify the ones that cause problems. This is typically the start of any IBS or food intolerance treatment as it identifies which foods trigger flare-ups. This is when the individuality of food intolerances becomes apparent. Whereas one IBS woman has no issue with broccoli, to another it’s to be avoided at all costs.

Some women mistakenly think an elimination diet is a process of cutting out food in order to lose weight. No, the point of this diet is to identify the foods you CAN eat without experiencing the symptoms of IBS such as bloating, cramping and constipation. In my case, for example, the food I can’t eat includes oats, cereal, white bread, brown rice, beans, legumes, honey or tomatoes.

If you have IBS and work out, you’re putting extra stress on an imbalanced gut microbiome, which is going to have knock-on effects on your digestion, energy, sleep and mood, as your stomach microbiota regulate these functions. They also play a role in bone health, lean mass and muscle growth, which is why it’s important to eat food that fuels you and your microbiome.

What is workout food?

A nutritious workout diet contains a balance of macronutrients, fat, protein and carbs, as well as vitamins and minerals, in ratios that are right for your body type and metabolism, and provide you with adequate fuel for the level of physical, mental and emotional exertion you expend each day. In other words, food is energy.

It fuels your daily energy expenditure and gives you added energy to fuel those intense workouts. If you’re not getting the right of amount of energy to fuel your daily activities, you’re going to experience side effects. This is why cutting out food is potentially dangerous for any woman who works out, but especially one with IBS.

For women, carbs are really important as they play a key role in regulating many physiological functions, and deficiencies can lead to menstrual, endocrine and thyroid dysfunction. Women have larger stores of body fat than men, stored around the chest, hips and stomach that manage the production of hormones, in particular, oestrogen.

When oestrogen falls, it has drastic effects on a woman’s physiology and mood, as all menopausal women know. If the stores aren’t stocked, the body starts shutting down functions. First, the period stops. Then, symptoms intensify: feeling cold, feeling confused, muscle loss, bone loss, hair loss, dry skin, gum disease. The list of symptoms goes on.

Should you calorie count?

Do you really want to? As someone who has done calorie counting for months, I promise you it made little difference in the long run, and made food incredibly boring. But more important, it’s near impossible to accurately gauge the calories you’re consuming or how your body digests them. It’s also important to note that the calorie quantities on food labels are estimations.

Because testing on food is done in lab environments that don’t replicate the digestive system, there’s no way to confirm if the lab tests are accurate. On top, individual metabolism and lifestyle matter, meaning the same food will be digested differently by different people depending on body type and daily energy expenditure.

In short, calories may look like neat numbers but don’t rely on them. The numbers can be out by 20 or 30 per cent, adding up over time. Rather than seeing food as numbers, much better to see it as energy or nutrients, and to make sure you’re getting the right balance on a daily basis. For example, an active woman needs between 170 and 230 grams of carbs per day depending on her body type and intensity of daily activity.

Examples of Workout Food

The following are examples of snacks, a mix of complex carbs and protein for before a workout, as well as meals that can be eaten post-workout. Again, it’s important to remember, while all women need fat, carbs and protein, vitamins and minerals in their diet, what amount and when to eat them will depend on her individual body type, lifestyle and food preferences.

Also, because IBS women have issues with wheat-based foods and some vegetables, nuts and seeds are our biggest friends. They’re jammed with nutrients that build lean mass and strong bones. Options include almond, pistachio, hazelnut, walnut, peanut and pecan; flax seed, sesame, chia, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

I include bread and pancakes on this list because I’ve discovered in recent years that I can eat fresh-baked brown bread and some brands of white flour. I can’t eat fresh-baked white bread, nor can I eat whole grain flour. But through an elimination diet like the one described above, I found a brand of flour I can eat, so, I urge you to explore too. I use almond and coconut flour for making breads and biscuits.

For now, I’m listing ideas, and will provide recipes ASAP!


  • Pancake with Berries
  • Bowl of Pumpkin Soup
  • Banana or Apple with Peanut Butter
  • Almond Butter on Toast
  • Almond Bread
  • Sweet Potato Toast


  • Chicken Wrap
  • Grilled Chicken Pineapple
  • Pesto Turkey
  • Roast Chicken
  • Meatballs
  • Sweet Potato Omelet


Try a new recipe this week.

What are your current favourite workout snacks and meals? Let me know in the comments below.

Or if you need help creating a weekly workout meal plan, get in touch with me at wildwomanaw@gmail.com

Published by The Healthy Hashhead

Challenging attitudes to cannabis, nutrition and fitness with conscious questions.

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