Do you often feel bloated and fatigued after a big meal and suffer from severe joint pain after a run?
Chances are that you have a mild case of gluten allergy, even though you might have tested negative for Celiac disease. So can going Gluten free improve your performance and make you a better runner?
Probably YES, and let’s find out why.
Should You Go Gluten Free?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains like rye and barley. As fitness enthusiasts consciously make an effort to choose wheat or whole grain products over products made with refined flour, they are also unconsciously increasing their gluten intake.
Today there is an increase in wheat varieties catering to health and fitness enthusiasts, but what most people don’t know is that these so called ‘wholesome’ foods are loaded with gluten. Now gluten is hard to digest, which is why it poses additional stress on the GI tract.
That’s also the reason many runners feel bloated or experience fatigue when they are on a whole-grain diet. Even mild gluten sensitivity can result in joint pains and stomach pains, and hence hamper performance.
So, is it better to go gluten free completely? Why not!
It may seem dramatic; after all most endurance athletes know that their diet should be made of 60-70% carbohydrates because that’s where their body gets the much needed energy. And most of us think of whole grains and wheat when we think carbohydrates. All these gluten laden carbs are the reason you tire easily.
As mentioned above, gluten is a protein which is hard to digest. Hence the body utilizes extra energy to process the gluten in your diet. Remove the gluten, and your body has more readily available energy to give you a performance boost!
It may not be the secret to become an Olympic level athlete overnight, but it will definitely enhance your athletic performance. Especially for runners taking part in a competition or trying out for a marathon, an energy rush for that fraction of a second which makes all the difference between winning and losing is important.
Fuel Up And Recover Without Gluten
If you are convinced that giving up gluten can help you become a better runner, you will have to alter your diet chart. Yes, you do need to include lots of carbs in your diet, but there are plenty of sources that provide carbohydrates without the unwanted gluten.
- Soba Noodles – The perfect alternate to traditional pasta.
- Quinoa – A healthy carbohydrate that is gluten free and also comes loaded with proteins.
- Amaranth – Another great source for protein and healthy carbs as compared to other grains.
- Millets – Rich in Magnesium which helps with energy metabolism.
- Oats – One of the best Gluten-free cereals if you don’t suffer from Celiac disease but simply want to get rid of the gluten in your diet.
- Rice – Both white and brown variety are great. Choose brown rice for main meals as they give you lots of fiber, minerals and vitamins along with slow burning carbs. Choose white rice that provides easily digested carbohydrates and a quick release of energy before a run or race.
- Beans – Gives you both carbs and proteins along with lots of fiber. Also includes iron which helps boosts endurance in runners.
- Fruits and Vegetables – All fruits and veggies are a great source of carbohydrates and low-fiber fruits like bananas can be the perfect pre-run snack. Apples are great post run as they prevent post-run soreness and muscle damage. Dried fruits and nuts are also great for runners.
- Potatoes – Rich in fiber, potassium, carbohydrates and Vitamin C, potatoes are the perfect accompaniment to your high-protein dinner.
- Cornmeal – An underrated cereal, this carbohydrate also has high levels of antioxidants. Makes for the perfect breakfast cereal.
Also keep in mind, only removing ‘Wheat’ as a cereal from your diet isn’t enough. Many health foods will contain hydrolyzed wheat protein or wheat starch, and these too include gluten.
So read the ingredients on the package carefully to get a perfect gluten free diet for runners.
Also read: Recipe: Gluten Free Spinach Lasangna