What is gluten?
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and related wheat species such as spelt and kamut. It helps baked goods keep their form and chewy texture and is also added to other food items more and more, both for consistency and taste purposes.
Helpful Hint: Buckwheat, contrary to its name, is not actually wheat and does not contain gluten.
What foods contain gluten?
The obvious foods that contain gluten include foods made from a flour base. Wheat, barley, and rye based breads, pasta, cereals, and bagels all contain gluten. However, hidden sources of gluten are abundant in many packaged goods from sports drinks, to protein powder. More and more companies are voluntarily labeling their products as gluten free and some even go through a gluten free certification process.
Here is a short list of foods that can have hidden gluten:
- Protein bars
- Dried jerky
- Seasoned veggies
- Baked beans
- Marinated turkey
- Seasoning Mixes
- Instant coffee
- Soy sauce
- Salad dressings
- Curry powder
- White pepper
- Malt vinegar
- Breath mints
- Oats (while naturally gluten free, there is a risk of contamination through harvesting, milling, and processing; Udi’s only uses certified gluten free oats) (1) (2)
For a full list of unsafe ingredients, click here:
Can eating gluten free help athletes perform better?
Many athletes find that they have fewer digestive issues during training and competition if they avoid gluten. Why is that? After a hard workout, people tend to experience some gastrointestinal distress. Athletes who have gone gluten free say that this distress is significantly lessened for them when on a gluten free diet, and disappears altogether when sugary drink intake is limited as well. Gluten is also a large cause of inflammation in the body, and so eliminating it will help reduce inflammation. This can help both digestion and athletic performance.
What kind of carbohydrates can a gluten free athlete eat?
While gluten is found in many traditional refueling foods, there is an abundance of natural gluten free carbohydrates that are easy to find and prepare.
Check out these great fuel sources, all naturally gluten free:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice cakes
- Certified gluten free granola
- Rice or vegetable pasta
- Beans and Lentils