Essential Sports Nutrition

4/19/18

The Celiac Athlete - nutritional needs

For any athlete with Celiac disease, it may feel overwhelming to meet daily and athletic nutritional needs with a gluten-free diet. But just because you have Celiac disease, your diet doesn't have to adversely affect performance or sabotage health IF you plan appropriately.

As a Celiac athlete, you should not feel embarrassed or frustrated with your dietary situation. With proper education and guidance, you can stay healthy and optimize performance to meet your athletic goals. 

In the May 2018 issue of Triathlete, you can check out my latest case study article. I featured a Celiac triathlete that I worked with and his struggles relating to meeting his nutrition and energy needs while training for long-distance triathlon events and what we changed to help him find athletic success in training and on race day. 



Here are a few tips for the Celiac athlete: 
  • Read ingredient labels and avoid cross-contamination. When it doubt, go without. 
  • Stick with your go-to "safe" foods before key training sessions and races. Avoid eating out and be in charge of what you cook and eat. 
  • Plan ahead for traveling, meeting, events and busy days. Make sure to have snacks available so you can stay nourished and fueled with gluten-free options.
  • Prioritize real foods that are naturally gluten-free to meet your nutritional needs for meals and snacks. 
  • Utilize processed/convenient gluten-free foods for energy density when you need to bump-up your caloric intake on higher volume training days. 
  • Be mindful of your caloric and carbohydrate intake to make sure you are eating "enough" as it's easy to fall short on your needs when avoiding gluten containing foods. 
  • Carefully select your foods as many gluten-free foods are poorly fortified. Common nutrient deficiencies (which may result from malabsorption) include iron, zinc, calcium and B12. Keep an eye on your fiber intake to keep your digestive system healthy. 
  • As you put your energy into a gluten-free diet, don't forget about your protein and fat needs. 
  • If you suffer from pain, headaches, fatigue, GI issues, chronic sickness or injury or a decline in performance, reach out to a sport RD for nutritional help.