Sweat from the Heart: Gluten-Free Will Set You Free

Sweat from the Heart: Gluten-Free Will Set You Free

Sweat from the Heart: Coach Bree’s Blog on Racing, Training and Life

Gluten free diet. It’s not just a fad, there’s some logic to it. I first heard of triathletes and runners going on gluten-free diets, and I thought, “thank God I don’t have to do that! I love my breads!!!” Well, I’m learning now that I do.

As I have been slowly improving my diet over the past year: more whole foods, lean meats, cutting out sweets, limiting dairy and wheat, and eating smaller meals more frequently, I began to notice changes in my body and became more aware of how I was feeling. Specifically how I respond to wheat products.

The brick workout that started the journey to a gluten-free diet!

The brick workout that started the journey to a gluten-free diet!

One brick workout in particular, a 1.5 mile swim and 40 mile bike ride, where I ate whole wheat crackers and peanut butter on the ride for fuel, I noticed horrible GI cramping and uncomfortable gas. It alarmed me, but I chalked it up to a “you’re not having a good day, maybe it’s a stomach bug thing.” The following week, the same thing happened, but this time it was a wheat bread sandwich of honey and almond butter that I consumed on the ride. The common denominator? Wheat. On another long ride, I made rice cakes of sushi rice and peanut butter and I felt great. No cramping. No gas. Nothing!!! And I actually felt better.

Yesterday, Cora and I ate at Cracker Barrel and ordered breakfast for lunch. We both had whole grain pancakes and eggs. Within the hour, I felt bloated and sluggish. I had little energy the rest of the day. I also noticed the same cramping and gas. This was the final straw for me. I have gluten sensitivity. And it’s more pronounced when I consume it while training.

So what’s so bad about gluten, other than GI distress? Well, it can interfere with absorption of nutrients. If you have sensitivity to gluten it can stimulate an inflammatory response and inhibit absorption of nutrients in your intestines. This is especially problematic if you are training and racing for an Ironman or full marathon. You NEED those nutrients to keep going strong! And you don’t need to be running off course to use the bathroom.

How do you know if you have gluten sensitivity? Cut it out of your diet completely for at least a week, two weeks preferred. Note how you feel. Then add it back slowly, again, noting how you feel. This is what I did. During that week of no gluten, I noticed that I was trimming down. I had less bloating around my stomach and thighs. I began looking more “ripped” (words I have heard people recently tell me). Seriously. And I say it in a surprised way. It’s a different body that I have never had before. And this all started when I started eliminating gluten from my diet. I also have more energy!!! And my husband, Jeff, has noted for himself (also following a reduced gluten diet) that he drinks less coffee because he has more energy during the day.

So if athletic performance is something you seek, or maybe just to have more energy throughout the day, or you want to loose stubborn fat (I had stubborn fat for years), consider a reduced gluten diet, or gluten-free diet as a possible solution. Give it a try!

I will be posting different recipes on my Facebook page: Bree Soileau- Coach, Triathlete and Mom on my journey to fueling without gluten. Wish me luck. This task isn’t easy  Maybe we start a support group: “Hi I am ____ and I love/hate gluten.” 
And here’s a great resource about endurance athletes and gluten free diets: http://team.firstendurance.com/group/GlutnFreeLiving Definitely worth looking into if you need help with what to eat before/after/during training and racing.

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