Lactose Intolerance: the Guidelines Athletes Should Follow

Are you lactose intolerant? If you play sports, the following article will offer you valuable information.
Lactose Intolerance: the Guidelines Athletes Should Follow

Last update: 07 June, 2019

If you play sports regularly and are lactose intolerant, you have to keep a few aspects in mind in order to prevent issues when achieving your goals. In this article, we’re going to analyze lactose intolerance, we’ll also explain the guidelines you should follow.

A very common intolerance in humans

Out of all the food intolerances, lactose intolerance is the most common around the world. It’s estimated that approximately 70 percent of the world population suffers some degree of lactose intolerance.

This percentage, however, varies considerably depending on origins. Most people who suffer from lactose intolerance are never diagnosed. This can be harmful to the body in the long term.

Lactose is a type of sugar that’s found in dairy products. In order to digest lactose, the body needs to produce an enzyme called lactase. Lactose intolerant people are those whose intestines do not produce the lactase enzyme. As a consequence, they have issues digesting milk.

There are several consequences of lactose intolerance including diarrhea, gas, abdominal distention or cramps. In order to avoid these symptoms, it’s important to stop the consumption of dairy products.

Lactose intolerance and sports

Since 70 percent of the world’s population suffers from lactose intolerance, there are obviously a large number of athletes who suffer from the condition. Read along to find out everything you should know about lactose intolerance in order to prevent it from affecting your physical performance.

First steps: confirm that you are lactose intolerant

As we mentioned above, in most cases, lactose intolerance is never diagnosed. People who feel certain discomforts often self-diagnose and stop consuming dairy products.

Woman with stomach pain

If you find yourself in any of these two situations, you should make an appointment with your general practitioner. The only way to confirm that you’re lactose intolerant is by performing the relevant tests.

The most common diagnostic method is a hydrogen breath test or a blood test. Lactose intolerance can also be detected by analyzing the fecal matter, however, this diagnostic method is usually only performed on children.

Diet of lactose intolerant athletes

The first thing you should know is that you can be a successful athlete and be lactose intolerant. Being lactose intolerant should not limit you from training nor interfere with goals. All you need to do is be especially careful when it comes to your diet and to avoid lactose-rich products.

The most appropriate thing to do is to continue eating the same way that you usually do. The only thing you need to do is substitute lactose for lactose-free products.

In most supermarkets, you can now find lactose-free milk, yogurt, and smoothies. Since lactose intolerance is very common, there are many economical lactose-free products available. 

Beware of sports supplements

Sports supplements are a part of a basic training plan for many athletes. People who are lactose intolerant need to take special care when it comes to supplements because many of them contain lactose.

The best way to be sure is to buy your supplements from specialized stores. In specialized stores, you’ll find professionals who will advise you and recommend the most suitable product.

Fortunately, there’s a growing range of lactose-free products which allow athletes to continue training without raising issues.

Woman drinking milk


Lactose intolerance affects a large percentage of the population and therefore it also affects many athletes. Athletes don’t have to face problems when it comes to training and achieving their goals.

All you need to do is pay special attention to your diet and supplements which often contain lactose. In addition, try to substitute products for lactose-free versions. This way, you’ll be able to take advantage of your favorite products without suffering from symptoms.

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