What Gluten-Free Athletes Need to Know | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

What Gluten-Free Athletes Need to Know

July 5, 2012

Must See Nutrition Videos

Thanks to recent media hype, the gluten-free diet has become a prominent fixture in today's culture. It was created for those who suffer from celiac disease, a condition in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged in a reaction caused by eating gluten. A person diagnosed with celiac disease must eliminate gluten from his or her diet, because damage to the lining of the small intestine reduces the absorption of nutrients, which leads to overall poor nutrition and lack of energy. Athletes who struggle with gluten sensitivity may experience bloating, abdominal distress and severe fatigue during exercise. Since many common fiber and carbohydrate sources contain gluten, athletes who want to remain gluten-free need to take extra care to plan their meals to make sure they are getting adequate amounts of needed nutrients.

Gluten is a protein composite typically found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Even nominally gluten-free grains may contain traces of gluten due to where they were packaged. So, to make sure you are actually eating gluten-free, it's important to read labels and use trusted brands.

Gluten-free athletes can also experience difficulty when eating out, due to cross contamination.

The gluten-free diet includes:

• Whole grains and carbohydrates such as rice, corn, flax, quinoa, millet, potatoes, buckwheat, and fruits
• Protein sources such as meat, poultry, seafood (all without breading), eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds
• Healthy fats such as vegetable oil, flaxseed, tuna, salmon, nuts and seeds

Since going gluten-free eliminates many refined, high-glycemic carbohydrates from a diet (leaving room for more whole foods), some athletes are transitioning to the diet without an actual medical diagnosis. There is no medical reason to go gluten-free unless you are sensitive to it; nevertheless, gluten-free athletes are usually pleased with its results, because certain substitutions they make are boosting their energy levels.

If you suffer from this condition, check out Gluten Free RD for gluten-free brands, recipes, and more information.

Topics: DIET
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

The digestibility of carbohydrates and the impact it has on blood sugar has an important role for athletes. The glycemic index ranks foods on a scale of...

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Diet Changes: 5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Plan

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

The Boston Cannons'

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

3 Nutrition Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make and How to Fix Them

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

The Case for Red Meat

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight