When you’re diagnosed with coeliac disease, you have to make a few big changes to your day-to-day life, and these can have knock-on effects on all sorts of areas of your life – not just what you eat.
For many new converts to gluten-free living, the fitness implications can be a big concern. Will you be able to give your body enough energy if you can’t touch things like pasta, bread and other wheat-based carbs? will you ever have a birthday cake again?
The short answer is yes, you can, and we’ll explain why and yes you can even have a gluten-free birthday cake.
Can you exercise properly if you’re gluten-free?
It’s important that we tackle this misconception head-on. You can get all of the pre-exercise and post-exercise nutrients you need from non-gluten sources. A bit of simple maths will help you ensure that you’re consuming adequate calories, and you’ll get the hang of it quickly.
In fact, you may even find that your athletic performance improves once you cut out the gluten, because one of the common symptoms of coeliac disease is general fatigue and tiredness.
Energy-packed foods that are gluten-free
When you first go gluten-free, cutting out bread, pasta and the other classic pre-workout carbs, you might be concerned that you’re not giving your body the calories it needs to perform. And that’s understandable.
However, in reality, there are so many options available to you when it comes to fuelling up for your workouts (and padding out your meals generally.
Here are some fantastic gluten-free sources of carbohydrate:
Potatoes: Let’s start with these, because they’re tasty and comforting. Some processed potato items (like oven chips) can contain gluten, but there’s nothing stopping you making your own mash, chips, wedges or maybe something more exotic, like a nice frittata – all superb choices for pre-exercise fuelling!
Rice: Commonly misconceived as containing gluten, rices are actually entirely gluten-free in their natural forms; so get making those curries, risottos and so on!
Legumes: a healthy salad full of kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils would be ideal prep for a lighter workout when you don’t need carb reserves
Quinoa: one of the most popular ingredients for those following the gluten-free lifestyle, this nutrient-packed whole grain is versatile and satisfying
Buckwheat: similar to quinoa but not actually, this plant-based goodness goes well in just about anything and adds a bit of welcome bulk (and don’t worry: despite its name, it does not contain actual wheat)
Plus plenty more.
As well as all of those naturally occurring sources, you have plenty of choice when it comes to gluten-free breads and pastas, which are widespread and easily accessible in shops and supermarkets, and even online.
You can even opt for services like those offered by sites like Glutafin, for instance, which focuses on a wide range of gluten-free foods which are only available to order on prescription.