IBD-Friendly Snack & Meal Ideas by Physical Activity Type
The first (and arguably the most important) order of business: hydration
If you’re experiencing a bout of active disease, recently post-op from surgery (especially if missing some or all of your colon), or live with an ostomy, remember to be vigilant about hydration; don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking. Aim for a urine color of light yellow, because this is indicative of adequate hydration. A general guideline for sports hydration is to drink 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes of exercise, ensuring that you’re drinking a sports drink if exercise is longer than 1 hour (1). If you are experiencing active disease and are also maintaining a level of activity or if you have an ostomy or j-pouch, electrolyte supplementation might be warranted (2). Make sure you drink plenty of water after exercise, too. Since so much water is stored in your muscles, this will aid in muscle recovery (3).
How much protein (and carb)?
Eating 20-25g protein within 30 minutes of resistance exercise WITH a carb will help repair muscles. The body uses sugar from the muscles for fuel (called “glycogen”), so adding carbohydrates with the protein is crucial for muscle recovery (4). 30-60 grams of carb/hour of exercise is recommended.
- Protein examples: fish, poultry, eggs, soy, tofu, tempeh. Whey protein isolate is lactose-free and is another good example of a high-biological protein. Soy and hemp protein are nutritionally complete plant-based sources of protein. A protein supplement is recommended for vegetarians regardless of disease status who lift weights regularly, but please check with a dietitian to ensure supplement safety.
- Carb examples: dates, potatoes, raisins, oranges, banana (unripe for lower-FODMAP option for people with IBS), peeled apples/applesauce if stricturing (note: apples are higher in FODMAPs)
So what might you eat if you’re…
Training for a half-marathon, swimming, skating, dancing, roller-blading, cycling or skiing for >1 hour:
Lifting weights for > 1 hour:
Important note about protein powders, BCAAs, and supplements:
The majority of supplements on the market fail to reach expected standards. Risks include inaccurate labeling, failure to declare the ingredients on the label, and cross-contamination of supplements (5). Please work with your registered dietitian to ensure safety of the supplements individualized to your needs. If you're not currently working with a registered dietitian but you'd like to, you can apply here for a consultation.
- Convertino, V. A., Armstrong, L. E., Coyle, E. F., Mack, G. W., Sawka, M. N., Senay, L. C., Jr, & Sherman, W. M. (1996). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 28(1), i–vii. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-199610000-00045
- Arenas Villafranca, J. J., López-Rodríguez, C., Abilés, J., Rivera, R., Gándara Adán, N., & Utrilla Navarro, P. (2015). Protocol for the detection and nutritional management of high-output stomas. Nutrition journal, 14, 45. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-015-0034-z
- Fernández-Elías, V. E., Ortega, J. F., Nelson, R. K., & Mora-Rodriguez, R. (2015). Relationship between muscle water and glycogen recovery after prolonged exercise in the heat in humans. European journal of applied physiology, 115(9), 1919–1926. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-015-3175-z
- Slater G, Phillips SM. Nutrition guidelines for strength sports: sprinting, weightlifting throwing events, and bodybuilding. J Sports Sci. 2011;29(S1):S67-S77.
- Maughan RJ, Greenhaff PL, Hespel P. Dietary supplements for athletes: emerging trends and recurring themes. J Sports Sci. 2011;29(S1):S57-S66
More IBD Resources:
The Flare Fighter Recipe Book
We've put together this 40+ page recipe book to give you some ideas for what to eat when you have IBD. These recipes are designed to be quick, simple, and delicious. We hope you enjoy them! Download the recipe book at the link below.
The IBD Starter Kit
An essential self-advocacy guide for people with IBD and their caregivers. We designed this Starter Kit with you in mind, to save you time and give you the tools you need to be your own best healthcare advocate. Download the Starter Kit at the link below.