Tara Gidus

Running Gluten-Free

Do you follow a gluten-free diet? Have you wondered if you could benefit from eating gluten-free? Every runner's body is different and not everyone runs well on wheat bagels and pasta. Since the media has popularized the gluten-free diet, many people are gluten confused and asking questions.

Runners suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley products. This presents a challenge for a runner as many common "runner" staples contain gluten. But no worries, runners can still feel energized, fueled, and optimize their performance running gluten-free. Here's how.

  • Carbo-loading: gluten-free style. No need to say sayonara to the runner’s preferred energy source, carbohydrates. You can obtain this muscle fuel from gluten-free grains, milk, yogurt, fruit, and starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, beans and corn. Simply swap wheat bread and pasta with gluten-free products made from rice, quinoa, tapioca, or your favorite gluten free flour.

  • Maximizing nutrients. The truth is wheat, rye, and barley (gluten grains) are great sources of energy vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, selenium, chromium, and folate, and many of these nutrients have been added to cereals and flours to fortify the products. But gluten-free grains can contain the same essential nutrients; so don’t totally eliminate these complex carbohydrates. Balance your diet with gluten-free grain choices like gluten-free oats, rice, corn, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa.

  • Eating clean. Gluten is found in many processed foods, so eating less packaged foods is a simple and healthy way to reduce gluten in the diet. But good news! Whole foods like fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, beans, and (plain) dairy products are naturally gluten-free.

  • Learn the label lingo. The ingredient label can be tricky to decipher and gluten can easily be lurking under another name! To be safe look for products with a certified gluten free seal. Other names that could mean gluten --- gelatinized starch, graham flour, semolina, durum, couscous, starch, wheat germ, enriched flour, bran, vital gluten, brewer’s yeast, malt, high protein flour.  (Note: this is not an exhaustive list.)


Questions or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.