The Low-FODMAP Diet: Can It Help You Lose Weight?
Image Credit: Carbs like brown rice is aloowed in the diet | Unsplash

Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for overall health and well-being. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing various health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Consuming a healthy and balanced diet can help regulate appetite, improve energy levels, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. 

The FODMAP diet has gained some prominence in recent years as a possible solution for those suffering from digestive issues, specifically problems like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). It restricts certain sugars that cause distress in the intestines.  

What the Low-FODMAP diet is all about and the science behind it 

The acronym FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. These carbohydrates are difficult to digest and move into the large intestine where they are fermented by gut bacteria. This fermentation process can lead to bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. Worse, they can trigger altered bowel habits ranging from constipation to diarrhea or a combination of both. The goal of the low-FODMAP diet is to reduce these symptoms.  

The low-FODMAP diet was developed by researchers at Monash University in Australia and involves three phases: elimination, reintroduction, and maintenance. During the elimination phase, high FODMAP foods are eliminated from the diet for a period of 2–6 weeks. Later, FODMAPs are gradually reintroduced in small amounts to determine which foods are well-tolerated and which ones are to be avoided. The maintenance phase involves consuming a diet that is low in FODMAPs but still provides adequate nutrition.

Understanding Macronutrients in the Low-FODMAP Diet

The low-FODMAP diet is not a low-carbohydrate diet, but rather a diet that restricts certain types of carbohydrates.  

  • Carbs: During the elimination phase, many high-FODMAP foods are eliminated, which can lead to a reduction in carbohydrate intake. Lactose, fructose, artificial sweeteners, wheat, onions, and legumes are to be avoided. Not to worry, though. There are many low-FODMAP sources of carbohydrates, like white rice, brown rice, quinoa, and potatoes. 
  • Protein: Good sources of protein on the low-FODMAP diet include meat, fish, poultry, and tofu. Lean sources of protein minimize the intake of saturated fat. 
  • Fat: Good sources of fat on the low-FODMAP diet include nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil.

How the Low-FODMAP diet helps with weight loss 

The low-FODMAP diet is a restrictive eating plan, but it’s a temporary one. Please note that the low-FODMAP diet is not a weight-loss diet per se but rather a dietary approach designed to manage symptoms of digestive discomfort. It is recommended to work with a physician on your diet, given the number of rules you’ll have to follow in the elimination phase.  

By eliminating high FODMAP foods, the diet may help reduce bloating and water retention, which can lead to a reduction in overall body weight.  

The low-FODMAP diet encourages the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods, which are generally lower in calories and higher in nutrients than processed foods.  

This diet may help regulate appetite by reducing digestive discomfort and promoting feelings of fullness. 

Weight loss may be a beneficial side effect of the diet, but it is not the primary focus. Dietary distress causes people to give up processed foods, leading to weight loss. In fact, experts recommend ensuring you do not lose too much weight because this diet is meant to be a short-term plan.

Lean protein like fish is prefered | Unsplash


How to follow the Low-FODMAP diet 

  • If you are interested in trying the low-FODMAP diet, it is important to do so under the guidance of a healthcare professional or registered dietitian. Here are the basic steps to follow: 
  • Consult with your physician to determine if the low-FODMAP diet is appropriate for you. 
  • During the elimination phase, avoid high-FODMAP foods for a period of 2–6 weeks. 
  • Monitor your symptoms during the elimination phase to determine which foods are causing discomfort. 
  • Gradually reintroduce FODMAPs back into your diet in small amounts to determine which foods are well-tolerated.

Common mistakes to avoid while on the Low-FODMAP diet 

Restricting too many foods: It is important to avoid high FODMAP foods during the elimination phase, but it is also important to consume a variety of foods to ensure adequate nutrient intake. 

Not reintroducing FODMAPs: After the elimination phase, it is important to gradually reintroduce FODMAPs back into the diet to determine which foods are well-tolerated. 

Not consuming enough fiber: Many high FODMAP foods are also high in fiber, which is important for digestive health. It is important to choose low-FODMAP sources of fiber, such as leafy greens, berries, and chia seeds. 

Not consuming enough water: Adequate hydration is important for overall health and may help reduce symptoms of digestive discomfort.

How to track your progress in weight loss 

  • Tracking your progress helps you stay consistent. Here are some ways to track your progress: 
  • Weighing yourself once a week can help you monitor your progress. 
  • Taking measurements of your waist, hips, and thighs can help you track changes in body composition. 
  • A food diary can help identify patterns or triggers that may be contributing to digestive discomfort. 
  • Monitoring symptoms can help identify the foods causing discomfort. 
  • How to manage hunger and cravings while on the low-FODMAP diet 
  • Eat protein with every meal. Protein helps promote feelings of fullness and may help reduce cravings. 
  • Good low-FODMAP snack options include nuts, seeds, and fruits like strawberries and blueberries. 
  • Drinking plenty of water helps reduce hunger. 
  • High-fiber foods promote feelings of fullness and may help reduce cravings. Good low-FODMAP sources of fiber include leafy greens, berries, and chia seeds. 
  • Mindful eating and eating slowly can help you savor your food and reduce cravings. 

The low-FODMAP diet may be a helpful dietary approach for those struggling with digestive discomfort and weight issues. By eliminating high-FODMAP foods, this diet helps tackle digestive symptoms, which can result in an increase in overall body weight. However, the low-FODMAP diet is not a one-size-fits-all approach and may not be appropriate for everyone. It is important to approach the diet with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional or registered dietitian.