Yesterday I actually had the honor of doing a GLUTEN FREE guest post for MY FIT LIST Austin. My Fit List is an online resource and recommendation engine for the community of fitness goers and fitness business owners. Their main mission?
As you know, the majority of my posts are about our gluten free lifestyle and recipes. You see, a few years ago I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance. This little issue changed our diet dramatically in the Cotter household. Not only did it help with my health issues, but it also helped the hubs with his training, racing, and recovery as an athlete.
So here I am today, wanting to share with all you (athletes, runners, cyclists, fitness guru’s, etc), the benefits of a gluten free diet. Should you go gluten free? Is it hard? I think everyone should give it a try and see for themselves.
Let’s get started, shall we?
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 an athlete and you think you have a gluten sensitivity? How would that affect performance?
Think about, athletes 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 crappy despite the number of calories/ratio of macronutrients you were taking in.
According toDr. 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??
Focus on the other Grains (gluten free grains)- brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, teff, sorghum, corn (corn tortillas), millet, amaranth. (you can find a lot of these grains and flours in the bulk sections as well).
Dig the fat- nuts and nut butters, avocado, oils, flaxseeds.
Pump up the protein- Quality protein such as organic meats (watch for deli meats with added starches though), fresh fish, eggs, tofu, etc.
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. But what about when it comes down to training/racing and those post race refreshments?
This is where it can be tricky. I like to bring my own food just in case. Like a Gluten Free Bagel and chocolate milk or honeymilk. But here are some other choices that might be available at the finish line or post ride.
·Gluten Free energy/protein bars (lara bars, perfect foods bars, the protein honey stinger bars, KIND bars)
Dried fruit, fresh fruit, trail mix, fruit roll ups, fruit leathers
- Gatorade, most cola’s (read ingredients), fresh juice, lemonade, milk, chocolate milk
- Tacos with corn tortillas (black bean, veggie, or beef/chicken/ egg cooked in natural oil or butter)
- Natural potato chips or tortilla chips
- Pickles (love that sodium fix)
- Smoothies with fresh fruit and/or natural yogurt
- PB and banana Sandwich with a GF bagel or bread.
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.
In the meantime, feel free to email me with any questions.
Cottercrunch (at) Hotmail (dot) com