Gluten Free Fitness

Fitness

Gluten Free Sports Supplement Review-Think Thin™ Bars

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Yes, I know these aren’t really sports supplements per se. They are more like a meal replacement or snack bar. I’ve had quite a few people ask me about gluten free protein bars, so this will be the first in a series of reviews. Keep in mind as with any review, the taste bit is obviously my opinion only, so your opinion may be different. I will do my best as be as descriptive as possible. The label/nutrition facts part will be much more objective.

So off we go!

According to an email response I received from Diane Hammer at thinkproducts, Inc:

All of our nutrtion bars are certified wheat & gluten free and are processed in a wheat free facility.

They are also labeled as gluten free. We’re off to a good start.

Think! Products have several different varieties of nutrition bars, I will be focusing on the Think Thin bars.

First impressions

At first inspection the Think Thin nutrition facts look pretty good. It’s labeled as sugar free, has about 240 calories give or take depending on the flavor, 20 grams of protein, 7-8 grams of fat, and 26 grams of carbs, 1 gram of which is fiber. However, it also has 10-13 grams of sugar alcohols. This is where it gets interesting.

Sugar alcohols – strike 1

A quick primer on sugar alcohols. Some of you may already be uncomfortably familiar with sugar alcohols. I know I am. Sugar alcohols, commonly seen as malitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and lactitol, are frequently used in items marketed as “sugar free.” They are sweeteners, and not fully absorbed into the small intestine. (Alert!Alert!) What is not absorbed by the small intestine is converted into a short chained fatty acid in the large intestine.

Sugar alcohols DO HAVE CALORIES! Approximately 2-3 calories per gram, whereas a “regular” carbohydrate has 4 calories per gram. So when you see labels that subtract out sugar alcohols from carbohydrate grams to give you a “net carb” count-that’s not strictly true.

Sugar alcohols do tend to not affect blood sugar as much as glucose, or sugar. So they’re not a “free food.” OK, now here’s the bad part. Sugar alcohols, due to the whole absorption thing, can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and gas. Our celiac tummies seem to be a bit more susceptible than your average Joe or Jane. I know mine is. Strike 1.

Soy protein – strike 2

So now a closer look at the rest of the ingredients. First ingredient is a protein blend, OK great, but wait. It has soy protein as a second ingredient in the blend. Strike 2 for me. I can tolerate some natural soy foods, like edamame, but not concentrated into supplements. Then the sugar alcohols next. More soy in “crisps.” The rest of the ingredients appear “mostly harmless” (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference ) and vary dependent on the flavor. They contain 25% of RDA for calcium and Vitamin C, A, B12, B6, and thiamin, 30% for iron, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. Nothing crazy, nice to have those in there though.

Flavor review – strike 3?

  • Brownie Crunch-tied as my favorite flavor with Chunky Peanut Butter. Had a good chocolate flavor with the “soy crisps” providing the crunch. A little aftertaste. Pretty dry.
  • Chunky Peanut Butter-ties with the above. Strong peanut flavor, which to me was good. Also dry.
  • Chocolate Mudslide-a “mocha-esque” flavor. If you don’t like coffee you won’t like it. Dry-see a pattern?
  • White Chocolate Chip-this was just flat out bad. The others had a fake milk chocolate coating, this one had a fake white chocolate coating that was way too sweet. The bar itself had no good flavor and was like cardboard. ‘Nuff said.

After I ate the first one I only had bites of the others, because my stomach was NOT happy. I do get the side effects of sugar alcohols, so for the sake of myself, my dog, my fiance and anyone else I may come in contact with I minimized the intake.

As with anything, your mileage may vary, and only you know how you respond. Quite frankly, the macronutrient profile (protein/carb/fat) is good, I’m just not crazy about the ingredients. If you are OK with sugar alcohols and soy, this would be a good, portable option to have for a safe snack or small meal replacement.

As far as cost, I got them at Whole Foods for $1.25 each on sale, and Amazon carries thinkThin™

Have you tried these? What did you think? Leave your comments below!

Gluten Free Athlete Profile: Peter Bronski

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This is the beginning if what will be an ongoing series. Each “episode” will highlight a gluten free athlete. You will see there are athletes of many different disciplines and experience level. Each of them is amazing and accomplished in their own right. They deserve to be celebrated.

A bit about Peter in his own words:

I am 30 years old, living in Boulder, Colorado. Competitively, I focus on Xterra off-road triathlons during late spring, summer, and early fall, and ski mountaineering races during winter. Greatest accomplishment…competing in the Xterra U.S. National Championship.

When were you diagnosed and what were the circumstances/situation that made you get tested?
I was diagnosed in January 2007 after two years of rapidly worsening symptoms that were crippling physically and psychologically.

A little information about your training?

Team Bronski-Peter, Kelli and little girl Bronski :)

Team Bronski: Peter, Kelli and little girl Bronski 🙂

Pre-season, training consists of longer distance, slower speed trail runs and mountain bike rides to build an endurance base. As race season approaches, I slowly shift to shorter distance, higher intensity workouts to improve speed and explosive power. During the peak of my training for Xterra, I’m typically doing 2 open water swims, 2-3 trail runs, and 2-3 mountain bike rides per week, including one brick (a mountain bike ride followed immediately by a trail run), as well as rest days built in to allow my muscles to recover. If you do the math, that means some days have double workouts. Once I’m in the throes of race season, my pattern shifts – race, recover, complete a new training cycle to build stronger, and then taper for the next race.

A little information about your nutritional philosophy?
I don’t heavily carbo-load the way some athletes do. I like to eat a fairly well-balanced diet of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. I eat lots of fresh food, and food made from scratch at home. Tons of fruits and veggies. Carbs come chiefly from potatoes, corn, and rice (as well as home baked bread, fresh pasta, from scratch pizza, etc.). I tend to eat an animal protein almost daily – often chicken or turkey, and less often, pork or a lean cut of beef. I also get protein (as well as healthy fats) from things like nuts (peanuts, almonds) and olive oil, which I use often in cooking and salad dressings. Yogurt for calcium and strong bones.

Favorite pre and post workout foods?
Pre-workout I like foods that are light on the stomach and easily metabolized to provide glucose for muscle energy…maybe some chocolate, a serving of fruit, or an endurance sports chew (like GU Chomps). Post-workout I try to eat protein as soon as possible afterwards to help with muscle recovery, but after hard workouts my diet is suppressed, and it’s difficult sometimes to force myself to eat right away when I don’t feel like it.

Favorite Sports Supplements?
Gatorade for fluids. I’ll typically take a combo of Gatorade and water (on mountain bike rides, I’ll carry one bottle of each and more or less alternate sipping off each bottle). GU gel packs for nutrition – especially the tri-berry, lime, and orange flavors. Love ’em!

Upcoming plans and competitions?
Having just competed in the 2009 Xterra U.S. National Championships, I’m planning to take a few weeks off to let my body (and my brain) recovery from a long, hard season of racing. Then I’ll start up with my pre-race training
schedule to start building a new endurance base for the 2010 race season. This year, I went to nationals sick with an acute viral infection, which hindered my performance. My goal is to qualify for Xterra U.S. nationals again next year, and go into the race stronger than ever.

Advice for other gluten free athletes?
Although you have to rethink race nutrition as a gluten-free athlete, once you’ve solved that “problem” there are no limitations. Determination, persistence, dedication to training, and the motivation to overcome temporary setbacks and challenges will all help you achieve your athletic potential. With food working for your body, instead of against it, you can compete right along side the other non-gluten-free athletes of the world.

Editorial note from Erin-This is gold, peeps. Take it to heart. Great and wonderful words of wisdom and motivation

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

As a spokesperson for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (I’m one of their Athletes for Awareness) I’m trying to raise awareness about Celiac and gluten intolerance issues in the US, and inspire the gluten-free community to be active. Right now, I’m actively working with the Xterra organization and individual race organizers and GF sponsors to get GF foods at pre and post race events, and to host pre race clinics on GF nutrition and racing for athletes. Keep an eye out for exciting developments on this front in 2010! My wife, Kelli, and I are also the co-authors of the new cookbook, Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking, which comes out in October and will be widely available (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.).

You can follow Peter on his blog at No Gluten, No Problem or at www.peterbronski.com.

Many thanks to Peter for his story and helping to inspire us all. Now get out there and MOVE!!

Athletes Living Gluten Free

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As this is a blog about living with celiac, being gluten free and fitness-it only stands to reason that I will be spotlighting gluten free athletes. This will be an ongoing series of gluten-free athlete profiles. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to be involved, and pass the word to those you think may like to be involved. Amy at the Savvy Celiac recently shared a blog post on athletes with celiac disease, which you can find here.

The word “athlete” may have some associations in your mind. What do you think of when you think of an “athlete.” An Olympian? A collegiate D1 player? A marathoner? A powerlifter? Or a human being with a belief that moving their body can positively impact their life? A person who embraces the unique ability that they personally have for activity?

Here is my definition of “athlete.”

An individual who recognizes the importance of doing something the human body is designed to do: move. One who makes regular physical activity a part of their day, and may even feel odd if a day goes by where they don’t move as much. One who takes any challenges they are given, whether physical or mental, and uses that challenge to fuel them. One who chooses to not make excuses, but design solution when problems arise in the way of their fitness goals. You don’t have to compete to have the mindset of a warrior and an athlete. Don’t sell yourself short. Think, train, eat, live like an athlete. You are an athlete. Accept no limitations.

An athlete may be a walker, a triathlete, a weightlifter, a football player, or none of these categories.

An athlete is one who moves their body with the intention of making themselves better-physically, emotionally, mentally.
Move your body. Honor your design. Live your life.

What is an athlete to you? Let me know…share your thoughts in the comments!