Managing A Gluten-Free Diet When You’re An Athlete

Gluten-free diet – NordicTrack

Gluten-free diet – NordicTrack

When it comes to generating energy for your body, gluten-based carbohydrates are a go-to source for easy fuel. Hence the term carb-loading. However, for athletes with sensitivities to gluten, they may be wondering what they can do to maintain the needs of their gut while also fueling their bodies to outperform their competitors.

Ditch The Obvious Energy Source

Breads and pasta are definitely not your only route for a highly fueled race day body. We tend to jump right to these products because of two reasons: (1) traditional American diets tend to consist of a lot of bread, so this is a food we’re well accustomed to, and (2) because our bodies are so used to processing these foods, it can be the quickest route for gathering fuel from consumption to digestion. Our bodies can quickly transform gluten-based carbohydrates into glucose for energy.

With new studies and diet trends constantly coming to light, we can confidently look to different food groups for a potentially better energy source than gluten. Take for example the keto diet

The Keto Diet: a high-fat, low-carb diet (HFLC). It lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, and shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and towards fat and ketones.

While there are multiple forms of the Keto diet (Standard ketogenic diet, Cyclical ketogenic diet, Targeted ketogenic diet, and the High-protein ketogenic diet), this is just one example of a High Fat, Low Carb (HFLC) diet. It might not meet your needs personally, but it’s one solid example of an alternative way to fuel the body without the need for gluten.

When it comes to HFLC diets, sport performance writer Alex Hutchinson shares this enticing explanation:

“The basic logic of the high-fat approach is simple. An average person can store about 2,500 calories of carbohydrates, enough to last a couple of hours; in contrast, even the slimmest of athletes has something like 50,000 calories of fat ready and waiting. If, by subsisting on a high-fat diet, you can train the body to burn primarily fat rather than carbohydrate, then you’ll never run out of fuel, and you’ll be freed from the need to suck down nausea-inducing quantities of gels and sports drinks.”

Not only does a high fat, low carb diet provide an endless vat of energy from within your own fat stores to outlast your competitors, it’s showing to be an excellent way to burn fat in general. So dieters, stay-at-home-moms, dad-bods, and anyone interested in trimming their waistline can benefit from the HFLC approach to slimming down. Multiple researchers from The Ohio State University, The University of Connecticut, The University of California, and The University of New England studied groups of high endurance athletes on varying diets and found that athletes consuming HFLC diets were burning significantly more fat than other participants in the study.

Gluten is NOT The Key To Athletic Performance

High fat, low carb dieting is one option for eliminating glucose from an athletes diet. It is not the only option either. A little bit of research paired with some trial and error is all it takes to fine tune the needs of your gut and the needs of your energy expenditure. Track your intake and output with iFit® on any of NordicTrack’s home gym equipment to see what’s working for your belly and your performance goals.