Gluten Free Runner's Diet

Gluten Free Runner's Diet

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Fruits are naturally gluten-free and a good source of carbs. Images

As a runner, you need to eat right so you have the energy to get through your daily workout. That means making sure you get enough carbs. But on a gluten-free diet, you can't eat any foods that contain wheat, rye or barley, so you might struggle to figure out what carbohydrate foods are safe. A gluten-free runner's diet isn't that much different from a gluten-containing diet, but it may require a bit more planning on your part.

Carbs for Energy

Carbs provide your muscles with the energy they need to move. As a runner, you should make sure that 60 percent of your calories come from carbs, recommends Cool Running. Not getting enough carbs in your diet can make your run very difficult to nearly impossible, as your muscles will fatigue quickly. While you might think it's difficult to get carbs without bread and pasta, there are a number of gluten-free carb choices for you. They include fruits, numerous vegetables, milk, corn, potatoes, rice, beans, nuts, quinoa, amaranth and tapioca.

Protein for Recovery

As someone who needs to follow a gluten-free diet, you may gravitate toward protein foods because many of them are naturally gluten-free, such as meat and poultry. While protein is certainly an important part of your runner's diet, eating it in excess will not improve your endurance. About 10 percent to 15 percent of your calories should come from protein. The protein in your diet is needed to repair and build muscle. Gluten-free sources of protein include eggs, fish, beans and milk.

Add Some Fat

As a runner, you do need a little bit of fat in your diet. Fat should provide 20 percent to 25 percent of your daily calorie intake. As an essential nutrient, fat is a source of energy and essential vitamins such as vitamins E and A. But not all fats are equal nutritionally -- to get the most benefit from the fat on your gluten-free diet, include healthy gluten-free choices such as nuts, avocados and olive oil.

When and What to Eat

To keep energy levels up, eat regularly and consistently, and include mostly naturally gluten-free whole foods instead of supplements that may be cross-contaminated with gluten. But there are diet guidelines you can follow so you get the most out of your runs. About two to four hours before your workout, you should eat a high-carb, low-fiber meal, such as rice cakes topped with peanut butter and banana. Additionally, within two hours after your workout, eat a high-carb, moderate-protein, low-fat meal to promote muscle recovery and replenish energy stores, such as a baked potato topped with broccoli, diced chicken and low-fat cheese.

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