Gluten Free Fitness

celiac disease

Guest Post: Kim Bouldin from Gluten Free is Life


Hi guys!  My name is Kim and I write a blog on gluten-free living called Gluten-free is Life.  Erin asked if I would do a guest post and I was thrilled and honored to write one.  I have been gluten-free for a little over 4 years now.

Kim and her daughter, Hannah


I am currently training for my first full marathon.  I ran my first half marathon last October and learned a lot about nutrition and fueling and some of the unique obstacles that come along with following the gluten-free diet.  I believe that every obstacle is only as big as you make it out to be.

Where there is a will to get over an obstacle, there is a way to get over it.  There are just as many protein-filled foods out there to fuel a gluten-free athlete as there are to fuel any other athlete – it is all about creativity.

Training foods

Now that I am really ramping up my training, I have to pay close attention to the foods that I am putting into my body.  I have to make every calorie count.  For those that know me, I do have a sweet tooth.  I have to limit some of those treats now so that I have room for those nutrient dense foods that will carry me through my runs, especially the long ones.

Some of the protein-rich foods that I include in my diet are:

  • Egg whites
  • Lean chicken
  • Lean turkey
  • Salmon
  • Lean red meat (filet mignon)
  • Beans (garbanzo &black beans are my favorites)
  • Nut butters (almond butter has a special place in my heart)
  • Greek yogurt
  • Quinoa (Erin’s note-this is a combo of carbs and protein, but is unique in that for a carb source it is unusually high in protein)
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Tuna

All of the above foods are naturally gluten-free.

For carbohydrates, I include:

  • Oatmeal (Bob’s Red Mill or Lara’s by Cream Hill Estates)
  • Brown rice
  • Breads made from whole grain gluten-free flours
  • Brown rice cakes
  • Gluten-free cereals
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Dried Fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, figs, apricots)
  • Bananas
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Squash (acorn, butternut, kabocha, spaghetti)
  • Peas
  • Potatoes (baked sweet or regular)

I make up most of my diet from the foods listed above & fill in where necessary.  I have been playing around with different foods for my pre-run fuel.  Some of my favorites have been:

  • Zing Bars (love the protein in these)
  • Rice Cakes w/ Almond Butter
  • Banana w/ Almond Butter
  • Blueberry Muffins from Purely Elizabeth

I don’t like to run with a lot of food in my stomach, so this has been something I have really been experimenting with.  While I like bananas, they make my stomach feel the fullest of all the options I listed above, so I have only been using that if I have no other options.


For refueling, I try to grab a re-hydration drink of some sort.  I have been experimenting with coconut water & it seems to work well & doesn’t make me feel queasy like Gatorade does.  I will be reviewing some coconut water later this month on my blog.

Once I get the drink in, I reach for protein and some carbs, but mainly protein.  I usually go with a 1 egg/3 egg white frittata made with spinach & tomatoes.  I add in some Frank’s Red Hot to spice it up.

(Erin’s note-LOVE Franks’! Favorite hot sauce by a long run!)

I will also have rice cakes with almond butter & fruit spread on the side.  I have been toying with some protein shakes, but haven’t found one that I love yet. The You Bar Shakes were good, but they are dairy based.   I don’t do well with a lot of dairy or soy, so that makes it tough.  I have yet to try the rice protein shakes.  They are next on my list.


One of the biggest challenges I have had to overcome is eating after my long runs to get enough calories in.  I know this sounds silly to some, but I have no appetite after my long runs.  I have to break all the “rules” with listening to my body’s hunger cues, because they are just not there on days when I run 8+ miles.  I literally watch the clock to make sure I am getting some kind of food in every 3 hours or so.  I try to eat smaller meals on these days so I don’t feel “stuffed” and then in turn, sick.

These are the days that I really need to make every calorie count by getting the best nutritional bang for my buck.  I snack on dried fruit a lot on long run days – calorie dense &can be an excellent source of fiber, nutrients, antioxidants and complex carbohydrates.  I love adding dried fruit &walnuts or almonds to my salads.  I have found that eating “by-the-clock” on long run days works well for me.  It helps me keep my energy up through the day and not feel like I was run over by a bus the following day.

I am entering week 9 of marathon training now.  I have a half marathon race coming up on March 21, 2010 that I am using as a training run.  I am running this race to help raise money for the March of Dimes and a couple of NICUs in the Atlanta area.  Only 10 more weeks until my first marathon!  Wish me luck!

Erin’s note: GO KIM!

Kim was previously profiled here as a Gluten Free Athlete. She gives many great reviews and advice for families with children living gluten free at Gluten Free is Life.

Non Celiac Athletes Going Gluten Free: Is there a Performance Benefit? Part 2


In Part 1, we reviewed some mainstream and popular athletes who had gone the gluten-free route. The experiences that they shared showed a perceived improvement in performance on a gluten free diet. These athletes were not diagnosed with celiac disease. So, what gives?

There are several potential reasons why the athletes may have in fact shown improved performance. These are essentially educated guesses, as we don’t really KNOW.

The sciency reasons:

1) The athletes were undiagnosed, but had celiac disease.

The statistics for celiac disease, and the numbers of undiagnosed, stagger me every time. Approximately 1% of the population (in the US, Canada and Europe) is estimated to have celiac disease. Here’s the kicker-95% of those are undiagnosed.
It’s very feasible that some of these athletes have been walking around with celiac disease and didn’t know it. Put them on a gluten free diet and all kinds of magic happens. We’ll talk about the magic in a bit.

2) The athletes were gluten sensitive.

This is a bit of a can of worms. “Gluten sensitivity” is a big umbrella term that covers a bunch of stuff. Celiac disease falls under this umbrella. However, as we are learning, celiac disease as it is currently diagnosed only refers to damage to the small intestine, which is also referred to as gluten sensitive enteropathy. Gluten can cause damage to many other areas of the body, not just the gastrointestinal system (your guts, for easy reference:) Gluten sensitive neuropathy
(nervous system-brain and peripheral nerves) is recognized as being the most common. However, gluten can affect many other systems of the body, and for more information on the various conditions I recommend you check out Shelly Stuart’s incredibly thorough 12 part series at her Celiac Nurse blog, for which a link will be at the end of this post.

A study performed in Iceland back in 1992 showed that 25% of the randomly selected 200 participants (48) showed high levels of gliadin antibodies. Antibodies are produced when the body mounts an attack against the offending invader-in this case, gliadin, the a portion of the gluten protein. 14 of these 48 people also had gluten sensitive enteropathy, or what is commonly referred to as celiac disease-gluten sensitivity of the gut. 25% is a lot of people to show a form of gluten intolerance. I’ve heard varying numbers and statistics thrown around for gluten sensitivity, even as high as 70%. This is difficult to pin down though. Interestingly, a study published in the journal Gut in 2007 (frustratingly, I could not
access the free full text, but the summary only-luckily there was an article that covered it on showed all NON-CELIAC participants in the study showed an antibody response when challenged with gliadin. All of ’em. Not some, all.
And that brings us to…

3) liminating gluten can have positive effects for all.

I’m going to preface this by saying that more research needs to be done, before the wheat growers association (I made that up, I don’t know that an organization by that name exists, but I’m sure there is one to that effect) comes and sues me. It is possible (how’s that for covering my butt) that wheat gliadin can cause intestinal permeability and immune system response in the intestines. Also, this permeability can cause additional damage to other areas of the body, including the nervous system. And given the research mentioned above, this may extend to everyone, not just those with diagnosed/undiagnosed celiac disease or gluten intolerance. It appears that there is a huge spectrum of tolerance to these wheat proteins-ranging from absolutely no apparent ill effects, on to celiac disease and related autoimmune disorders.

4) Improved absorption of nutrients all around!

If these athletes did have an undiagnosed gluten sensitive enteropathy, then it stands to reason that with eliminating gluten they were able to absorb more nutrition. More nutrition=feeling better=performing better. If it was a gluten sensitive neuropathy, they were able to think better. Thinking better=improved performance.

OK, enough science. You asleep yet?

Here’s the less technical reasons these athletes may have improved their performance.

1) Eliminating gluten meant eliminating a large number of processed foods.

Let’s be honest. Aside from hidden gluten, eating a gluten free diet does not have to be hard. Although I am grateful to the manufacturers for giving us gluten free options of processed food-there is just as much junk that’s gluten free as there is gluten full. Gluten free junk is still junk. Naturally gluten free foods are easy, can be inexpensive and highly nutritious. Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store, keep your diet primarily fruits, veggies, meats/fish, beans, nuts, eggs, potato and rice. Easy peasy. It also is inherently more nutrient dense than eating processed food-gluten free or not. More nutrients=more fuel to muscles and brain=higher performance.

2) Eating gluten free made them more aware of overall food quality.

Sometimes as athletes we just look at food as fuel. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But, we perform better with
higher quality fuel. Like a high performance car. Put in crap fuel, get crappy acceleration and knocks. With the added attention to eating gluten free, additional attention can be given to high quality food. This is exactly why I feel so strongly that celiac disease is a blessing in disguise. Built it reminder to eat well, should we choose to perceive it in that light. The athletes on the Garmin team (and now Radio Shack) are certainly receiving a very high nutrient density diet. These guys make their living performing, and their livelihood depends on them performing well.

So I have to say that yes, there can absolutely be a benefit to non celiac diagnosed athletes eating gluten free. Just like
in everything though, it depends on what you eat and how much-not just that it’s gluten free.

It will be interesting to see the press on the Radio Shack cycling team and the gluten free diet as the Tour de France gets closer. Lance’s return to the biggest race in cycling to sure to get a ton of coverage.

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts or experiences!


Non Celiac Athletes Going Gluten Free: Is there a Performance Benefit? Part 1

No Comments

My Dad handed me a Men’s Journal magazine, saying “they talk about gluten free in here.” I looked at the front cover and sure enough, there it was at the top of the cover. “No More Wheat-the Surprising New Diet for Athletes.” My very sophisticated first response was “huhmph” or something along those lines. I am rarely at a loss for words, but I was caught without anything pithy to say.

Several months ago, a friend of mine had mentioned that the Garmin professional cycling team was going gluten free. (Prior to my last knee surgery I was a fairly avid cyclist-now I just can’t take the chance of crashing onto one of these very expensive knees.) The driving force behind this decision is Dr. Allen Lim. He now is working with Team Radio Shack (Lance Armstrong’s current team.) We’ll get back to the reasoning behind going gluten free in a bit. Let’s take a look at some athletes who have taken the gluten free route and their experiences.

Winning without wheat

The Men’s Journal article titled Winning Without Wheat discussed the Garmin’s team experience and results with going gluten free. It was noted that the athletes were gluten free during the racing season-not necessarily the off-season. During the season, the riders reported performance improvement along with reduced digestive issues. (I found it interesting that the article did not mention if the athletes had been tested for celiac disease, or if any of them chose to continue eating gluten free off season.) It was not reported if the performance improvements were perceived, or if there had been specific testing parameters on a “regular” versus gluten free diet.

The word on wheat

An article in Bicycling magazine titled The Word on Wheat discussed the idea of voluntarily going gluten free, and the potential pitfalls of a gluten free diet. (which I addressed in the nutrient deficiencies in the gluten free diet post and refers you to Peter Bronksi’s well written review) They also mention celiac disease versus non celiac gluten intolerance.

A pro triathlete named Desiree Flicker is quoted as saying:

It does end up being a lot healthier because it forces you to stay away from overly processed foods.

Flicker was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 29 after dealing with gastrointestinal issues for almost 10 years. She noted a performance improvement after going gluten free. (To me this is a “well, duh” moment-of course a celiac will have improved performance on a gluten free diet-but we’ll get to that.)

Gluten free to ease digestion

The rationale presented behind originally moving the Garmin team to gluten free is basically to ease digestion. There are multiple fragments of gluten that can cause adverse reactions, even without specific wheat allergy or celiac disease.

The spectrum of non celiac gluten intolerance is an area that seems to be expanding rapidly. Improved digestion leads to improved absorption of nutrients, which can then translate into improved performance.

Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation

Keep in mind that while this can be a correlation, it’s not necessarily a causation without proof. In other words, it looks like a gluten free diet may be associated with improved performance, but without specific controlled variables we cannot say that a gluten free diet caused the improvement in performance.

I was unable to find any research studies that examined the effects of a gluten free diet and performance. It does appear that there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence where people have experienced improved performance.

Based on these anecdotes, it appears that there is potential for improved performance in athletes to eat a gluten free diet even if they are not diagnosed with wheat allergy or celiac disease.

In Part 2 of this article we will take a look at why a gluten free diet may correlate with an improvement in performance.

Stay tuned! If you have experienced improved performance with eating gluten free speak up! Leave a comment below!

Supplements for the Gluten Free Athlete: Glutamine


Here’s a shocker-I have a fitness background. In the fitness world, there is something that is affectionately referred to as “bro-science.”

Interestingly enough, there is actually a definition for “bro-science” at

Broscience is the predominant brand of reasoning in bodybuilding circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research.

There has been much debate surrounding glutamine in the weight training world. It was touted as a recovery booster/fat mobilizer/muscle sparing/ all that and a bag o’ chips for many moons, and turns out that the research doesn’t support that position. (Gleeson, M. Dosing and efficacy of glutamine supplementation in human exercise and sport training J Nutr. 2008 Oct;138(10):2045S-2049S among others.)

Fight bro science

There are many good bros and female bros (bras?) out there fighting the good fight and protecting the world against the proliferation of bro-science. A few are Alan Aragon, Lyle McDonald, Leigh Peele, and Cassandra Forsythe, as well as my buddy JC Deen. There are many others of course-but these are a few I reference regularly and have in my Google Reader.

Ok, so what does this have to do with celiac disease, living gluten free, or glutamine supplementation?

Glutamine and gut health

Although glutamine may have limited benefit from a sports performance/physique enhancement perspective, it may be much more useful for gut health.

First of all, what is glutamine? Glutamine is an amino acid. It is considered conditionally essential (meaning there may be times when the body cannot produce enough, and it must be ingested through the diet.) The gut tissue has been found to absorb up to 65-76% of ingested glutamine.

Also, glutamine is used for fuel by the cells in your body that fight disease and infection. When plasma glutamine levels are lowered, this can contribute to suppresion of the immune system. In short, glutamine helps reduce inflammation, improve immunity, promote repair, and assist in production of other important factors in the gut.

I have to note that in looking through the scientific research, I have found studies that support these statements, and other studies where no significant difference has been shown. As always, this is a case of buyer beware-educate yourself, discuss it with your doctor or health care practitioner, and make an informed decision. It will not hurt you, but it may not help either. There has been quite a bit of supporting evidence that it is beneficial for gut health.

Some of you may be thinking:

But glutamine is an amino acid found in gliadin-and a reaction to gliadin is what is examined when gluten intolerance is being tested.

Dr. Stephen Wangen in his book Healthier Without Wheat: A New Understanding of Wheat Allergies, Celiac Disease, and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance clarifies

Do not be confused by the fact that gliadins contain glutamine. This does not mean that glutamine is a problem for people who are gluten intolerant, nor does it mean that glutamine should be avoided. In fact the opposite is true…

Two forms of glutamine

Note: Glutamine can be found in two forms, and this is particulary important to note if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. There is L-glutamine, which is the free form amino acid, and glutamine peptides. Glutamine peptides are often sourced from wheat, and can cause a reaction in those with sensitivity. Avoid glutamine peptides, and if you choose to supplement look for L-glutamine.

Dr. Wangen states that due to the fact that the small intestine uses glutamine as a primary energy source, providing extra L-glutamine can assist in speeding the healing of the digestive tract. He recommends a dose of 3 grams (3,000 mg) split into 3 doses throughout the day.

Shari Lieberman also discussed L-glutamine supplementation in her book The Gluten Connection: How Gluten Sensitivity May Be Sabotaging Your Health–And What You Can Do to Take Control Now. She recommended 500 mg-3 grams of L-glutamine.

There also have been studies of non-celiac endurance athletes which have shown protective immune system qualities when the training load is high. (L. Castell, The effects of oral glutamine supplementation on athletes after prolonged, exhaustive exercise. Nutrition Volume 13, Issues 7-8, July-August 1997, Pages 738-742 )

So what does this mean to the celiac or gluten intolerant athlete?

It means that supplementing with L-glutamine may be a worthwhile expense. If you are training hard, your immune system and gut can use all the help it can get with recovery. It can help with antioxidant control of free radicals produced in exercise. By maximizing your gut health, you are maximizing absorption and therefore fuel.

What’s your opinion? Have you taken L-glutamine? Leave your feedback in the comments!


Gluten Free “Diet” vs. Gluten free Lifestyle


Living gluten free has received quite a bit of mainstream press lately. The Dr. Oz feature of course comes to mind, and there was a 12 page special report in USA today in November, and numerous other articles in publications including the NY Times.

With the rising awareness of a gluten free “diet” comes increased numbers of people trying the “diet.” Here’s the reason I am adding quotations every time I use the word diet here. There’s a method to the madness, I promise.

“Diet” as per has several different meanings and uses. It can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adjective:

  1. Food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health
  2. A particular selection of food, esp. as designed or prescribed to improve a person’s physical condition or to prevent or treat a disease
  3. Such a selection or a limitation on the amount a person eats for reducing weight
  4. To select or limit the food one eats to improve one’s physical condition or to lose weight

This is only a small selection of the 10 potential meanings.

Gluten free and weight loss?

You can see how this one little word has multiple conotations associated with it. Most people associate the word “diet” with the 3rd definition, from my experience. A lifestyle approach to diet would be definition #1. With the media exposure of the gluten free diet, there are some who are associating the gluten free diet with a weight loss diet.

Not so fast, buttercup. This is not necessarily the case. Any method of eating can be a weight/fat loss diet. It depends on activity level, what you eat, but most importantly how much you eat. Can you gain weight on a gluten free diet? Hells yeah. You can lose it too. You can gain/lose weight eating anything. The laws of thermodynamics do not change.

Popular diets

Let’s take a very quick and admittedly non-complete look at some popular “diets.”

  • Atkins: Taken in it’s purest form, the idea of eating meats and vegetables, and fats only. Excludes a complete food group.
  • South Beach: A balanced diet including all food groups eventually, but in their whole forms.

At their inception, people by and large did quite well using these methods of eating, provided their daily caloric intake was less than their daily expenditure. Then, there was the advent of the Atkins bars, and pancakes, and the South Beach cereal, and more bars, etc and so on. These foods made it easier for people to consume more calories. It’s much easier and quicker to eat several to many hundred calories worth of a nutrition bar than of chicken and broccoli. The satiety (fullness) factor is less, so more is eaten. And guess what? No more fat/weight loss.

The gluten free “diet” in it’s purest form is a very healthful diet, and can certainly aid in controlling calorie intake.

Peter Bronski just did a blog post (here is his Gluten Free Athlete profile) on a brochure he found at his local market.

Check this out:

  • Eat more non-processed foods.
  • Eat an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit.
  • Eat a serving of beans or legumes and nuts daily.
  • Eat fish twice a week, especially wild salmon.
  • Pay attention to your calcium and vitamin D intake to maintain healthy bones.
  • Choose lean poultry and meats as well as low-fat dairy products.
  • Balance the food that you eat with daily physical activity.

Sounds like an awfully nutritious way to live to me.

Getting into trouble

Where we can get into trouble is just like in any other “diet.” The gluten free cookies, candies, cereals-these are items where it is very easy to overeat calorie wise.

So when people ask me if they can lose weight on a gluten free diet, the answer is yes. It’s not rocket surgery. You can lose weight eating Burger King if you keep your calories where they need to be. (I DO NOT recommend that-it’s just an illustration.)

Does this mean that everyone should go on a gluten free diet?

Heck no. For those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, living gluten free is not an option, it’s a necessity. And you can choose to eat gluten free in whatever manner you wish. For those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, this is not just a “diet.”

It’s a lifestyle, and a medical necessity. It’s a way of life and a way of living. It’s extremely important that manufacturers and restaurants understand the medical implications of the gluten free distinction and follow good practices, not just jump on the gluten free bandwagon.

There are those have not been diagnosed with gluten intolerance or celiac disease who choose to live gluten free. They may be part of the many who are undiagnosed. It may be a personal decision. Honestly, the description provided by the brochure above would be a beneficial way for most people to eat.

Bottom line-there is no “magic” in a gluten free diet. If by going gluten free you cut out processed carbs, then by default your calorie intake may drop, which will cause weight loss if your activity stays the same. It’s not magic. It’s math.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced people asking you about a gluten free diet? Speak your mind in the comments below!

True Protein Gemma and Rice Protein Powders: Review


Ah, protein powder. The words that polarize, the food product that can be a sweet treat, or a necessary evil. I have used many different brands and flavors of protein powder over the years, with varying results. Some have been great, others have had me struggling to reach the bottom of the canister. (Yet I refuse to throw it away. The stuff can be expensive!)

Dairy issues

Personally, I am a celiac without dairy issues. So I have used whey and casein protein powders. Whey is generally considered the standard as far as peri-workout nutrition. It is quickly digested and has a high level of amino acids which assist in the recovery process. Casein is used as a slower digesting protein that can be used in conjunction with whey, or by itself, many times prior to bed (think cottage cheese.)

However, I know many of you cannot tolerate dairy, or choose to follow a vegan diet. And off I went in an attempt to find some protein powders that fit the bill.

5 types of non-dairy protein powder

There are 5 main types of non-dairy protein powder options that I am aware of. Egg/egg white, soy, hemp, rice, and gemma (pea.) In my previous post Gluten Free Dairy Free Protein Powders 101, I covered some of the characteristics of each of these.

True protein

When I last ordered from True Protein, I ordered tubs of rice protein and gemma to try. There are several companies that produce these protein powders. Jay Robb seems to be a popular maker of rice and egg protein, Sunwarrior makes a sprouted rice protein powder, Nutribiotics, Olympian Labs makes a pea protein, and Nutiva a hemp. This is just a sampling, I am sure there are more-if you are aware or have a favorite, shoot a comment below.

True Protein is a company that allows you to create custom protein mixes, and they also sell pre-made protein mixes,and various vitamins and supplements. From their website:

Our Goal… To create a following and customer base in the athletic, fitness, bodybuilding and health world not on fancy marketing schemes but purely on a reputation as the company to go to, to find the highest quality nutritional supplements known to the public.

I have ordered from True Protein for several years and have been very pleased with their products and services in the past. They do not have fancy labels or packaging, everything is very simply marked with black and white labels, and minimally packaged. In fact you can have your powders sent in a food grade bag if you already have a canister to put it in. (Although transferring the powder can be a bit of a nightmare-but that’s another story for another day.) When it came time to try these new proteins (new to me) I chose to purchase them from True Protein. They also do carry the egg white, soy, and hemp protein powder. The rice and gemma powders that I tried are non-GMO.

From the True Protein FAQ:

Q. I am allergic to Wheat Gluten. Which of your products contain Wheat or Wheat Gluten?

A. None of our protein, carbohydrate, or flavoring materials will contain any form of wheat or wheat gluten. The only product that contains wheat gluten will be our Glutamine Peptides, which is maintained in an isolated storage unit within our clean oom facility to remove any risk of cross-contamination. Wheat gluten products are manufactured within our facility.

Just to be certain, I contacted Carl at True Protein. This was his response (within 24 hours of when the email was sent):

The only item we carry that will contain even trace elements of Gluten will be the Glutamine Peptides and any custom product selected using that ingredient. We follow strict GMPs that have been designed using ISO9001 guidelines, with 0% chance for cross contamination within our facility. Thanks again and please dont hesitate to contact us with any additional questions or requests. (Erin’s note: GMP=good manufacturing practices)

OK, on to the taste review!

I bought the premium dutch chocolate fudge flavor in both the rice and gemma, as I have had this flavor in whey isolate and thus a baseline for comparison. I mixed just with cold water in a shaker bottle. Keeping in mind that everyone’s tastes a bit different-here are my thoughts:


  • Mixes easily
  • Thicker in consistency-you may need to use a bit more water. I liked it, because making protein powder into a pudding” is a favorite way of mine to combat the sweet tooth. Especially at night time. Blending half a scoop of this with some cottage cheese, stevia and cacao powder gives me my “chocolate pudding” fix
  • Slight nutty flavor, not unpleasant at all


  • Slightly tougher to mix, takes some vigorous shaking
  • A bit chalky in texture-feels like it coats your teeth a bit
  • Thinner consistency, more like whey isolate

One comment about the appearance of both-the brown is kind of a light brownish, not terrible visually appealing. Don’t let that fool you though, the chocolate flavor is definitely there.

Overall, both of these are very pleasant and will be in my protein powder rotation.

If you would like to order from True Protein, feel free to get 5% off using coupon code ENE038. If you buy using this code, it also adds points to my account and eventually I can earn free protein. Of course you can also order without using that code.

Have you tried any of these proteins? What has been your experience, good or bad? Specific brands and/or flavors you like? Share ’em!! Leave a comment below!

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Protein Powder 101: Sports Nutrition for Celiacs


I’ve heard this question several (OK, many) times in the past year.

What gluten and dairy free protein supplement do you recommend?

And quite honestly, I was flummoxed.

Although I have celiac disease, I have not had to contend with dairy sensitivity. I have always used whey or casein proteins, which are milk-based. Whey protein isolate has had the lactose removed, and so many with a lactose intolerance can tolerate a straight whey isolate. However, some with a dairy sensitivity cannot tolerate even a whey isolate.

"Just Say No" if you're dairy intolerant

“Just Say No” if you’re dairy intolerant

I am the first to tell you when there is something I am unfamiliar with. In these cases, I usually run around in a fairly obsessive state of learning until I have found an answer. My friends, I am here to share my new found knowledge of the dairy and gluten free protein powder world.

There are 5 basic types of gluten and dairy free protein powders. (This is what I am aware of as being fairly common and easy to find. I believe there may be more (spirulina?), so if you know of some please share in the comments!

The five I will be addressing here are egg white protein, gemma (pea) protein, rice protein, soy protein, and hemp protein.

Egg White Protein

Egg white protein is created by seperating the yolk and converting the white to powder. It tends to be a bit high when it comes to creating sulfur with digestion. (The polite way of saying it can give you WAY smelly gas.) Upon mixing it is a thinner consistency. In my opinion best when mixed with other types of protein, for both the taste, texture, and certainly for the gas factor.

Gemma (Pea) Protein

This is fairly new to the scene, becoming more popular when whey protein prices went up a couple years back. It is, just as it sounds, derived from peas, making it a vegan-friendly option. Gemma mixes into a thick consistency and has a slightly nutty flavor. The Gemma that I have tested is also non-GMO. Gemma can be used on its own or mixed with another type of protein such as…..

Rice Protein

Also a vegan friendly option. The rice protein I tested is also non GMO and derived from brown rice. Rice protein mixes
to a thinner consistency and has a gritty texture, but a “cleaner” flavor.

Soy Protein

Soy protein is derived from defatted soybean flakes. There has been much media controversy and conflicting research about the use of soy supplements in the diet, as well as the GMO situation (GMO=genetically modified organism.) That discussion could fill several books, and is far too much for the scope of this article, but be aware that it exists. You can find research and articles to back up both sides of the story, from the “soy is evil!” camp to the “soy is the best food ever!” camp. Make an educated and independent decision, whatever your decision may be. It is a vegan friendly option.

Hemp Protein

Despite some individuals wishing otherwise, this hemp does not make you high. Sorry, folks, it would be a lot more expensive if it did. Hemp protein does have a couple of unique characteristics though. Hemp protein contains essential fatty acids and fiber! In a 30 gram serving you would get 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of fat along with your 15 grams of protein. The others contain a bit more protein per serving, averaging 24-25 grams, and little to no fat and fiber. I have not tasted hemp yet. (And I know some of you have, so pipe up in the comments!) Hemp is a vegan friendly option.

As always, check your labels and with the manufacturer if needed to verify gluten free status. I have used rice and gemma from True Protein, and I will be posting my review next week. Stay tuned!

Check out the Gluten Free and Fit 101 page if you’re looking for a place to start here in the gluten free and fit community.

Have you used a gluten free and dairy free protein powder? What did you use and what did you think? Let me know in the comments!



Gluten Free Food: Does it Have to be Expensive?


Yesterday I was in the supermarket with my Mom, and I was pointing out the section they had devoted to gluten free food. She said:

It’s so expensive!

We were looking at the baking mixes, and gluten free pasta. And I agree, a box of the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip cookie mix was $4.99. The glutinous regular mix was $1.99. Big difference, without a doubt. I explained to her that buying specialty items like the cookie mix was a rarity though, and for the most part I eat naturally gluten free foods, which don’t cost any more than regular groceries.

Let’s take a look at 2 sample menus. The first menu is composed of foods that are primarily naturally gluten free, and the second composed more of food that is engineered to be gluten free. These are of course approximate, as actual costs may vary dependent on location.

Sample grocery list 1
  • Bobs Red Mill Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal 24 oz package = 16 servings$4.49
  • Shop Rite brand frozen unsweetened blueberries 12 oz = 2.5 servings $1.99
  • Shop Rite Walnuts Chopped 6 oz = 6 servings $2.00
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast= about 3 servings $3.99/lb
  • Sweet potato = depends but about 3 servings $1.99/lb
  • Shop Rite 16 oz frozen broccoli = 5 servings $1.99
  • Chicken of the Sea Albacore Tuna 5 oz can = 1 serving $1.59
  • Baby Mixed Salad Greens 5 oz = 2 servings $2.99
  • Minute Rice Instant Brown Rice= 14 oz = 9 servings$2.49
  • Chobani Greek Yogurt Non Fat Blueberry 1 container @ 6 oz $1.25

Grand Total: $25.27 | Total servings: 49

Sample grocery list 2
  • Van’s Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Waffles 9 oz (this is 6 waffles=3 servings) $2.79
  • Pamela’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies 7.25 oz 9 cookies=9 servings (in a perfect world) $4.49
  • Ener-G foods Light Brown Rice Bread 12 slices = 6 servings = $4.99
  • Deli turkey slices approximately 4-5 servings =$5.99/lb
  • Baby Mixed Salad Greens 5 oz = 2 servings $2.99
  • Glutino Gluten Free personal pizza 1 serving $4.99

Grand Total: $26.24 | Total Servings: 25

I will be the first to admit that this is far from scientific. The serving amounts I used are based on the product packaging, or in the case of chicken breast/sweet potato=stuff without packaging, I just used common serving sizes. To get the total servings I simply added them all, so it is not necessarily representative of a specific meal plan.

Get more bang for your buck

What I hope it illustrates is that by choosing more foods that a naturally gluten free, you get more bang for your buck. And not just from a financial perspective, either. As a general rule, you will receive more nutrition for the calorie as well-so nutritional bang for your caloric buck as I am fond of saying. You also will be getting some key nutrients that we may be deficient in, as I talked about in my common nutrient absorption issues article.

My friend Kim posts her weekly menu plan over at Gluten Free is Life, and I think she does a great job of incorporating mostly naturally gluten free foods with a few other fun items thrown in. She cooks for her kids, and her menus are very kid friendly, but still very health aware. Check them out for some good ideas. Also, my article on cooking healthfully and flavorfully gluten free may give some inspiration too.

As this year progresses, I will be continuing my not really a recipe cooking article series. I’ve gotten some feedback that cooking with methods instead of complicated recipes may be a helpful and less intimidating way for people to feel more comfortable cooking-so that’s what we shall do! (And since that’s how I cook anyway-works out well all around!)

So what do you think? How do you handle the financial impact of living gluten free?

Eating more for less: Deconstruction and comparison of two eating styles

Eats for the day-the leaning tower of Pyrex

Eats for the day: The leaning tower of Pyrex

In a previous post about preparing ahead I showed this picture of the items I take to work on a given day to sustain myself. I have gotten more than few questions about this, both here and in “real life.”

Just yesterday a coworker saw me carrying my leaning tower of Pyrex to the kitchen an remarked-“Is that for the week?” I smiled, and replied “No-this is just for today.” (A quick background-I eat every 2-3 hours, I have found this is best for my mood and energy levels. Your mileage may vary.)

Eating a lot?

A week or two ago, another coworker stated “I wish I could eat that much.” Here’s the thing-yes, I eat a lot. Yes, I am active. I move more so I can eat more, and I’d like to build a bit more muscle. HOWEVER-the food that I eat is fairly nutrient dense and calorically spare. As you’ve seen me write-more bang for the caloric buck. I like food. And if I can eat more by making smart choices-then heck yes-bring it on!

So let’s break it down.

As an overview-more bang for the caloric buck foods generally are fairly unprocessed and in the natural state. And choosing foods that are naturally gluten free generally means less processing is needed. You’ll see some examples below.

Foods that are calorically dense generally come in packaging, are more processed and usually stuff that’s grab and go. As I mentioned in my celiac as a blessing in disguise article, we can’t eat a McDonald’s burger-so why not take some extra time and effort and make sure you are getting the most bang for your calorie buck.

Familiar foods

When we are first diagnosed, and potentially for quite a while after, we may tend to go for the foods that look familiar and are labeled as Gluten Free. We know they are safe, we don’t have to think too much, and heck-who doesn’t like mac n’ cheese?

And there is nothing wrong with eating that. My goal is to show you that if you desire-you can eat more food and get more nutrition. And still have mac n’ cheese-just maybe as an occasional treat instead of a staple.

Gluten free can help with weight loss…

I was on the Celiac forums the other day and someone commented how they had lost 20 pounds since being diagnosed. She cut way back on bread consumption, (although still having some gluten free bread-but the equivalent of 1 loaf every 2 weeks) and increased her intake of lean meats and fruits and veggies. That’s what I’m talking about. I know sometimes people get annoyed when the gluten free diet is referred to as a “weight loss” diet. And it’s certainly very different when you are gluten free due to celiac, and when it’s a choice. However-any “diet” can be used for weight loss with certain parameters.

And eating naturally gluten free foods can lend itself to weight loss, within those parameters. Depends on how much you eat, of course-and for more information on that, please see my free nutrition guideline that you can get at the end of this post.

…but not always

D_ohThe thing that I see is now with the large variety of gluten free foods available from manufacturers (and I thank them-it is wonderful to have such wide options and the increased awareness it has given celiac) it is just as easy to gain weight being gluten free. Honestly-you can eat gluten free donuts, pizza, beer: sounds like Homer Simpson’s diet doesn’t it?

Not normal? Good!

You can certainly indulge from time to time, and have a piece of flourless chocolate tart, or a gluten free pizza. But you may not want to make these items daily staples.

This is not just the celiac population-but the nation in general. The statistics are staggering. I touched on this a bit in my Gratitude article. I think it can be a bit more challenging as celiacs because we want to be “normal.” Well honey, in this case-not normal is a good thing. Embrace it.

My meal and nutrition breakdown

Onto the nutrition breakdown of my work day. This is what I take to work to eat in a 8.5 hour day.

I eat my breakfast there, because I train in the morning and have had a protein shake and some fruit at the very least already.

  • Blueberries, gluten free oatmeal and flaxseed
  • Egg whites, spinach and sun dried tomato (my egg bake)
  • 3.5 oz chicken breast, green beans, 37 grams of pumpkin seeds, apple
  • Can of tuna, salad greens, artichoke hearts, grapefruit, 2 tsp macadamia nut oil and balsamic vinegar on the salad.
  • 3 oz flank steak, broccoli, 20 grams almonds

That’s 4 meals, as the first two items I eat at the same time. Here’s the breakdown (and I don’t count the green fibrous veggies-green beans, salad, broccoli-I consider them fairly low in calories and high in nutrition. It’s all portion-if you eat a pound of broccoli, you’d want to count it. And consider a gas mask 🙂 )

  • 1263 calories
  • 51 grams of fat
  • 94 grams of carbohydrate
  • 101 grams of protein
  • 19 grams of fiber, not including vegetables which will add a good bit more fiber.

It’s roughly equal amounts of energy from each macronutrient-akin to what’s referred to as the Zone approach. There is no magic about this particular approach. This is not reflective of what I eat around my training, this is just a regular day. That’s a decent amount of food, and a lot of vitamins/minerals nutrition-right? And I eat 2 more meals after I get home.

Comparison: Gluten free prepared items

For comparison, here’s a sampling of some common gluten free prepared items. These numbers are for a single serving as given by the nutrition facts. And many, many people eat more than a single serving.

  • Gluten Free Pretzels: 190 calories, 8 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbs, no fiber, 1 gram of protein.
  • Gluten Free Mac N Cheese 3 oz: 330 calories, 5 grams of fat, 61 grams of carbs, no fiber, 10 grams protein.
  • 1 individual Gluten Free Pizza, cheese topping: 460 calories, 28 grams of fat, 46 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein.

Just for these 3 items here’s your grand total:

  • 980 calories
  • 41 grams of fat
  • 136 grams of carbs
  • 21 grams of protein
  • 2 grams of fiber.
Less fiber and protein in prepared foods

As you can see, there is very little fiber and protein in this as compared to the other options listed above.

Both protein and fiber have been shown to assist in feelings of satiety, or the sense of fullness after a meal. These would rank fairly low on that scale, so it is possible that you may still feel a bit hungry after eating.

I do not have a visual comparison – I wish I did – of the sheer volume differences between the two. I’m sure you have seen the individual pizzas – they are about 8″ in diameter. The pretzels – an individual snack pack, and the mac n cheese is 3 oz. Not a whole lot in terms of volume of food. You can always add veggies to help feel fuller.

It’s all about awareness

This is not to say you should never eat these items – of course you can, and should, especially on an occasional basis. The idea is to increase your awareness, add a bit of information, so you can make an independent, informed decision. Having said that, I make sure to eat well 95% of the time, and the other 5% I have whatever I want. For example, tonight I plan on going out with Jeff for a nice dinner, and having Dairy Queen for dessert. Tomorrow it’s back on the regular eats. Make whatever decision will work for you – it’s all about having our own individual goals. 80% may work just fine.

I hope this helped clarify a bit! As always, please let me know if you have questions or if something is confusing. And let me know what you think and what works for you in the comments below!

Now go eat something good!

Top 10 Gluten Free Healthy and Portable Snacks


Ah, snack foods. The land of high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats and excessive packaging. The land of oversized bags, tempting you to stick your hand in just one more time, for one more handful.


Options and awareness

There are lots of better options out there. It does take a little pre-planning, but we are used to that eating gluten free. As I mentioned in “preparing ahead for healthy gluten free eating success,” celiac disease makes us automatically more aware of what we put in our mouths in order to not get sick.

So let’s take it a step further to make choices that can impact our health, energy, and potentially our body composition (fatness vs not fatness) in a positive manner. You could very easily just have a smaller version of what you might have for another meal. A snack of some chicken breast, green beans and a little olive or macadamia oil is very common for me. It depends on what your resources are, how portable you need your food to be, and if you have refrigeration or a cooler. A small soft sided cooler with an ice pack is a great thing to keep with you, and then you’re never caught absolutely starving and headed for the closest crap food to dive into.

Snack composition

A general rule of thumb I like to follow is to try to include a fruit or vegetable source in the snack, a protein source, and possibly a healthy fat. (Side note-Some people consider nuts and nut butters to be a protein source. Me, not so much. If you look at the nutrition facts for lets say 2 TBSP of Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter. There are 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein.

So yes, there is some protein, but there’s twice as much fat as protein. See what I mean? It’s fine, it’s a good healthy fat source, but I wouldn’t consider it a bunch of protein.) This way you get a snack that helps you get a larger amount of produce in your day, and gives you some lasting energy.

10 gluten free healthy and portable snacks

These are in no particular order, by the way.

  1. Apple and string cheese-my go-to snack. Very portable, easy, and tasty. I like Fuji’s, and I like the 2% string cheese. Personal preference.
  2. Celery sticks and natural peanut butter with a small container of cottage cheese or greek yogurt. Try to get the plain kind-the flavors add A LOT of sugar. You can generally find the Greek yogurt Fage or Oikos brands in many regular supermarkets. They are thicker and creamier than regular yogurt, with a higher protein content.
  3. Deli turkey slices (make sure it’s gluten free, Boar’s Head brand is very common and gluten free) wrapped around baby carrots, and/or wrapped around pickles.
  4. A small handful of almonds with a piece of fruit, and a hard boiled egg or three.
  5. Sliced bell peppers dipped in homemade bean dip (seriously-can’t be easier-open, drain and rinse a can of white or garbanzo beans, throw ’em in the Magic Bullet or a food processor with some garlic, thyme and a tiny drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt, add some cayenne if you like or whatever spices. Voila) or store bought hummus-again and as always check labels.
  6. Small pop top or packet of canned tuna, and celery or carrot sticks, small handful of nuts.
  7. Plain Greek yogurt with some berries, and sliced almonds or crushed walnuts.
  8. Cottage cheese with a piece of fruit or some cut up veggies. You can also make this like a “ranch” type dip by adding some seasonings and blending until smooth.
  9. Ostrim jerky-ONLY THE NATURAL FLAVOR IS GLUTEN FREE!! But it’s tasty, doesn’t require refrigeration, dairy free, and high in protein. Add an apple and you’re set.
  10. A protein shake and a handful of almonds with an apple. Protein powder you can keep in your car, won’t go bad, and all you have to do is have a secure bottle and some water to shake it up and you’re good to go.
    I know, I said 10, but if the guys in Spinal Tap can take it to 11 so can I. A couple ounces of chicken breast left over from dinner the night before, some green beans and slivered almonds. Yum. I’m a big fan of cooking in bulk, and having leftovers to have either as snacks or as entire meals. Why cook 2 chicken breasts when you can cook 10? Save time, save energy, and have great healthy food ready to grab.

So no excuses as you’re running about this holiday season-the siren song of the food court will not affect you when you have these handy snacks ready to go!

What are your favorite snacks? Let me know in the comments-there’s always room for more great ideas!