Let’s talk. You see, I often get asked about this “gluten free” lifestyle. Like what to eat and when if you are active? Should an active person/athlete go gluten free? Reasons behind it, is it hard? Etc..
My personal opinion? I think everyone should give it a try and see for themselves. But with that being said, I also think if you are going to try going gluten free, you need more info. You need the “Health, Wellness, and Fitness” aspect of it. Wouldn’t you agree?
To start off, what exactly is gluten? Gluten is a form of two proteins: gliadin and glutenin. These proteins are found in the endosperm of wheat, rye, and barley. The glutenin is what gives these type of flours the elasticity in their dough and makes them all warm and gooey. The bad thing is that this protein is usually pretty hard to digest and for a lot of people it can cause a harsh reaction in the digestive system. Ya, bummer!
Celiacs are those actually diagnosed with a genetic disorder and are highly allergic to gluten. This can cause several digestive problems and lead to malnutrition and malabsorption in the intestines. Others might develop a gluten “allergy” or “sensitivity” which can have several of the same symptoms of a celiac (fatigue, inflammation, abdominal bloating, diarrhea/constipation, etc.) yet the effects are not necessarily as damaging or pervasive. Allergy suffers can probably handle a gluten every now and then, Celiacs cannot! For more on this topic feel free to read HERE.
So what if you’re a fitness lover and/or athlete and you think you have a gluten sensitivity? How would that affect your overall wellness? Would it help your performance?
Think about it, active people need EXTRA nutrients in order to fuel and recovery properly right? But what if your digestive system was not absorbing these nutrients? You’d probably feel pretty lousy despite the number of calories/ratio of macronutrients you were taking in. I know I did! And so did the Kiwi Cotter.
According to Dr. Wellingtons article on Active.com, gluten-free diets do have some advantages for athletes:
1. With gluten removed, the body’s immune system can rest and absorption can be restored. The body can then function at optimal levels and repair muscles more efficiently.
2. The hypoglycemic effect that results from intense exercise is minimized.
3. A gluten-free diet helps to maintain a stable blood sugar level during exercise, which is optimal for an increase in muscle strength and stamina.
Sounds pretty good to me! But the question still remains…..what the heck do I eat??
KEEP IT SIMPLE. KEEP IT REAL (as possible).
- Focus on fresh vegetables, fruit, starchy vegetables (like squash, sweet potato, etc).
- Look for certified gluten free breads, cereals, pastas, oatmeal, granola. Preferably still whole grain.
- Eat the other naturally gluten free whole grains – brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, teff, millet, amaranth. (you can find a lot of these grains and flours at your local grocer these days or online!
- Dig the fat- nuts and nut butters, avocado, oils, flaxseeds, chia
- Pump up the protein- Quality protein such as organic meats (watch for deli meats with added starches and nitrates), fish, eggs, naturally fermented tempeh (if you are vegan), 100% Whey Protein or Pea Protein, etc.
- And be sure to read labels. Especially on condiments. They can sneak in words like wheat starch, rye, barley, and malt syrup.
Okay okay, so now we’ve covered the basics, what about when it comes down to post/pre workout snacks. Or food on the go? Travel food? Post-race meals/refreshments?
This is where it can be tricky, but here’s what worked for us. —> Bringing our own food. Pack it in your suitcase, carry on, etc.
- Natural Ingredient Based Gluten Free bars/bites (Lara bars, Perfect Foods bar, KIND bars, Healthy Bites)
- Dried fruit, fresh fruit, trail mix, fruit roll ups, fruit leathers
- Natural sports drink powders (like Skratch Labs), fresh juice, Organic chocolate milk (OR even better-lactose free COREPOWER)
- Hard boiled eggs
- Almond Cheese (lactose free/GF)
- Peanut Butter packets and fruit
- Homemade GF Muffins (like this recipe- make beforehand and store some in freezer)
Here are some other choices that might be available at the finish line or post ride/run etc.
- Tacos with corn tortillas (black bean, veggie, or beef/chicken/ egg cooked in natural oil or butter) – Always ask what’s in the batter and seasoning though. When in doubt, make your own corn tortilla with a banana & peanut butter.
- Organic potato chips or tortilla chips -> read ingredients.
- Pickles (love that sodium fix)
- Smoothies with fresh fruit and/or natural yogurt
- PB and banana Sandwich with a GF bagel or bread (bring your own GF bagel post for post-race and keep it in your bag)
So did I miss anything? What’s on your gluten free mind today?
Being that I am gluten intolerant, I choose to live Gluten Free for my health. These are just my suggestions from what I have gathered along my GF journey. If you think you have a gluten allergy or intolerance, my best advice would to seek a professional or ask your doctor.
Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/community
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.
*Note- Katie (from cookies and crafts) left a great comment below explaining more of the difference between Gluten allergy and Celiac. You want to read it!