Thursday, January 19, 2012

As I continue to travel along the path of changing from Overweight to the Endurance Athlete, I have found my body is continuing to evolve as well. I recently have found that I have severe GI issues with soy products and gluten. So in my search of food alternatives to continue to fuel my body and the training for my two upcoming Ironman events in 2012, I have found some interesting snack and meal ideas online. So you ask, what is gluten and what are the effects on the body? Gluten is a term used to describe a group of plant storage proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and certain oats. It is responsible for the elastic quality of dough that is considered desirable for baking. More recently it has been added to a number of unlikely food products including ice cream, salad dressing and ketchup, where it is used as a stabilizing agent.

Ingesting gluten leads to irreversible damage of the lining of the small intestine. This basically results in weakening of the immune system since essential nutrients and vitamins are not absorbed. Given below are some harmful effects of gluten.

Abdominal Bloating
Abnormal Stools
Calcium Metabolism Disturbance
Impaired Growth
Intestinal Malabsorption
Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Muscle Wasting
Offensive Stools and Subtle Cramps
Poor Appetite or Irritability
Poor Muscle Tone (Hypotonia) and Joint Swelling
Recurrent Oral Ulcers
Severe Weight Loss or Gain

As I removed gluten from my diet a few months back, the amazing transformation in my energy level and lack of irritability was profound. Unfortunately, if I ever re-introduce it into my diet I pay the ultimate price! So as endurance athletes, how can we fuel properly while removing the gluten from our diet? Finding easy snacks can be a challenge when living gluten free. Here are some ideas. Please share yours!

1.     Carrots, apples, or celery slices with: Hummus, salad dressing, cream cheese, or peanut butter.

2.     Hard boiled eggs

3.     Sprouted peas and lentils. (great by themselves or with salads for a protein boost)

4.     Corn (tortilla) chips with salsa or bean dip

5.     Trail mixes - nuts, raisins or other dried fruit, seeds, chocolate chips. Bhuja makes some really nice mixes all gluten free. My favorite is there spicy peas that I mix with almonds and raisins.

6.     Smoothies – Start with a liquid: water, milk, rice milk, nut milk, coconut milk. Add any fruits such as kiwi, strawberries, frozen bananas (my family's favorite), blueberries, etc. You can also peanut butter, almond butter, protein powder, flax seeds, chia seeds, cocoa, yogurt, or some greens. I typically use Hemp Milk, frozen berries, Acai berry, almond butter, a probiotic, and Hammer Whey or Soy Protein powder mix

7.     Cubed deli meat and cubed cheese (double check that they are gluten free)

8.     Popcorn

9.     Yogurt (not the frozen kind)

10. Easy, sweet nuts: Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil with 2 tablespoons maple syrup and a dash of salt. Mix with 2/3 pecans or walnuts. Bake at 300 degrees until it bubbles (about 15 minutes). Delicious! Tastes just like pecan pie to!

Finally, I have found Hammer Nutrition Products, to be gluten free and very well tolerated by my sensitive GI System. I highly recommend their products for the endurance athlete with a sensitive tummy! I wish everyone successful training, STAY ON!!! KEEP ON!!!


  1. Very enlightening. I wonder if I have a sensitivity to gluten. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Honey Stinger chews are gluten free, and their protein bars are whey (not soy) and aren't made with gluten but are made in a facility that processes gluten.

    I'm trying out Paleo and seeing how that goes.

  3. We also discovered over the last year a sensitivity to gluten. Not too much for me, but I am cutting a lot of it out. My wife does much better without it, so we are focused on a lot of gf cooking etc. Fortunately, many others are discovering that life is better without gluten, so more stores and restaurants are coming around.

  4. Richard,
    How does one tell besides from the above to "look for" things/symptoms, if they may have issue with Soy, gluten etc???

  5. You might be interested in the "travel friendly snacks" list Katherine Pennington wrote on our website in this article: