Gluten Free Fitness

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Step Away From the Resolutions: Make a Lifestyle Tweak Instead

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Step Away From the Resolutions: Make a Lifestyle Tweak Instead

Yup, it’s about that time again.

The time of year when drunken (or not) love is professed, lofty goals stated and unrealistic items wished for.

It may be a few years old, but my post on How to Avoid a New Year’s Resolution Fail still holds true.  Go ahead, go read it.  I’ll wait. Then come back.  I’ll be waiting.

Since that time, there is one more point that I think is truly crucial when it comes time to make a lifestyle tweak.  Or resolution.  Or goal.  whatever you call it, it’s really the same thing, right?

Make your goals, or resolution, or whatever…behavior/performance based, not just outcome based.

Now, what the heck do I mean by that?

Here’s some examples to show you what I mean, and this is one of my goals.

Outcome based goal: This year I will win my class in the Masters division in a local Figure competition.

Behavior/performance based goal: This year I will train and prepare as if I will compete in one Figure competition.  I will choose a date and comply with a nutrition, cardio, and resistance training plan in preparation.  Regardless or not if I actually choose to step on stage, I will reach that date in my best physical condition to date.

So what’s the difference?

In the first example, I cannot control who else is in my class, what condition they are in, the judging, the weather, or the alignment of the stars.  There are many factors that are not in my control that will affect if I can achieve that goal.  In the second example, each one of the items mentioned is strictly within my control (excepting any unforeseen injury, of course.)

Just for grins, here’s another personal example.

Outcome based goal: This year I will improve my time in a metric century (cycling terminology for 62 miles, 100 kilometers)

Performance/behavior based goal: This year I will follow a properly periodized cycling and resistance training program to increase my average speed and power on the bike

The difference between these 2 examples is that there may be a hellacious wind on the day of the metric, which is entirely possible here in south Florida and could absolutely affect the time it takes me to complete the distance.  That would certainly affect the outcome, but not the process I completed to get there, which is really the important part anyway.

Take care of the process, and achieving the goal take care of itself.  Without completing the processes and behaviors day in and day out, the goal(s) will never get achieved.  (Unless you find the goal fairy, in which case please give her my email.)

Also, as much as possible, make your behavior based goals these 5 things:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time Bound

I’m not sure if that’s what the person who came up with the SMART acronym had in mind, but that’s what I use it for.  So, instead of saying “I will drink more water” say “I will drink 3-4 liters of water daily.”  Or, instead of “I will exercise more” (let’s say your exercise is exactly nothing at the current time) you may not want to set a goal of hiking the Grand Canyon.  Maybe start with “I will walk around the block once after dinner every night, and by the end of the next month I will go around twice.”  See what I mean?

Don’t get caught up in the resolution hoopla.  Decide to make changes, whenever you feel as if you are ready to give yourself the kick in the rear you need.  ‘Cause really that’s the most important part, not the date on the calendar.

If you’d like to share your lifestyle tweaks, feel free! If you’d like some assistance in tweaking your tweak to make it SMART, leave it below and we’ll help out.

If part of your tweaking involves a healthier spin on your gluten free life, there’s lots of resources on Gluten Free and Fit 101 that can help.  Have at it.

Even with all that, Happy New Year!!

Where to start (or restart) with this thing called fitness

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Where to start (or restart) with this thing called fitness

Welcome to the very first Gluten Free Fitness video blog!  (Apparently also known as a vlog, which I learned recently.  I’m a little behind.)

It’s only about 6 minutes, and you really don’t have to watch me, so feel free to listen as you do something else.  (Except you, Melissa, I want to keep you in one piece 😉

Below the video I have links to some of my previous posts that are applicable to today’s “discussion”, so feel free to click and read if you don’t feel like watching the video!  Also, be sure to comment and let me know what you think, do you like/hate the idea of video?

Misconceptions About Getting Fit and Healthy

Exercise and Celiac Disease-Why It’s Important

Supplements for the Athlete-Glutamine Edition

The Tale of the Clear Heels-Goal Setting, Roadblocks and Success

10 Tips for Healing as a Crazy Gluten Free Injured Athlete

FitFluential: Fitness Found This amazing and wonderful group of individuals whom I am so honored and pleased to be a part of!

Happy fitness trails!

Erin Elberson: Gluten Free Fitness Nerd

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Hey everyone!

I am Erin, the Gluten Free Fitness Nerd.

Yes, I’m a nerd. I have to admit it, I cannot lie. Although I have ditched the thick glasses I wore as a child (thank you, Laser Eye Surgery Center) I am still a nerd. I like to read. A lot. And I like to read research and sciency stuff.

Sciency stuff

More than that though, I like to figure out how that sciency stuff applies to real life. I am very fortunate to have learned, and to continue to learn from some very smart people. There is an overwhelming amount of information to sort through, and lots of times it is contradictory. So, I synthesize what I learn, and what I learn from others, to make an educated guess on what it takes to live a healthier life.

As you may be able to tell, I have a educational background in health sciences. I hold my Masters degree in Physical Therapy, and Bachelors in Health Science. I’ve considered going back for my Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD), but holding off for now. Probably forever.

Celiac diagnosis

I was diagnosed with celiac disease about 5 years ago-ish. Honestly my memory is not so good on that, but around 4 or 5 years ago. I had, like so many others, been diagnosed with the garbage can of GI disorders-IBS several years prior. I am a amateur physique athlete (figure competitions) and throughout the course of getting ready for a competition noticed an increased reaction to wheat products.

Lo and behold, a new GI doctor later-celiac disease. Which in retrospect makes perfect sense. I had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, early osteopenia (despite lifting weights, having a calcium rich diet and being under 30 years old,) Raynauds’s syndrome, and sports injuries out the wazoo. Autoimmune disorders-all commonly associated with celiac disease. No one had ever put together the pieces.

Gluten free transition

Transitioning to a completely gluten free diet was a challenge in some respects and easy in others. It was challenging when it came to hidden gluten and labeling, as the labels have absolutely improved since my diagnosis. That may have been why I gravitated to naturally gluten free food-easier to navigate, and better for me.

I once made myself very sick by making homemade chicken soup. I wasn’t feeling well, so I made some chicken and vegetable soup. With College Inn chcken broth. Which was not gluten free. I was so mad. I ranted on the phone to my Mom for a good long while on that on.

It was easy in the sense that I felt so much better after going gluten free. The constant stomach pains, gas, bloating, all that fun stuff. It was gone. I would not ever want to feel that way again, not for any gluten-filled item. Just not worth it. Not even close. Not even for a Philadelphia soft pretzel from a street cart.

Gluten free diet

My diet is almost completely naturally gluten free. I do have gluten free oats, which I love, and gluten free Koala Crisp bars and Quakers Chocolate Crunch Rice Cakes as post workout fuel. I usually choose white/sweet potato or rice when I want a carb source.

I don’t eat gluten free pasta-I use spaghetti squash if I want the “pasta” vibe. For treats I LOVE chocolate, and ice cream-or both together. I am a firm believer that no gluten free food is off limits-there are just better amounts and times to have certain splurges. You can certainly get fat on a gluten free “diet”, just like with anything.

Education

Enough about me. My goal, what I want to do with my life, is to educate. To educate people to care for themselves better, do it well, and do it easily. I believe that we as humans have so much potential. I am saddened to see the food marketing to the masses, and the grocery carts full of “not food.” But I believe we can make a change, and that with some awareness, people will make better choices.

So I’m a nerd. But I’m a nerd on a mission. Gluten free, fit and healthy. That’s the goal.

Supplements for the Gluten Free Athlete: Glutamine

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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 urbandictionary.com:

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!


Resources

Calorie Intake and You: Calories Do Count – Part 1

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You may have heard various and sundry diet and nutrition gurus touting the benefits of a given “diet”-you can eat as much as you want and not gain fat, as long as it is under the full moon, the color red, and you eat standing up.

OK, so maybe not that extreme, but the idea that total calories don’t matter if you eat specific foods is around and pervasive. Well, calories do count.

There’s no way around the laws of thermodynamics, at least not yet. Quality of food is an important issue as well, don’t get me wrong. But from a strictly energy balance perspective-it’s calories that are king (or queen.) It’s not magic, it’s not difficult, but it does take a bit of attention-at least if you’re interested in improving your health and or the way you look.

Calorie Intake and You

We’ll be looking into the idea of energy balance ie:calories in versus calories out. Today we’ll take a look out the calories you expend-energy output. In Part 2 we’ll take a look at calories in, energy intake, and the ways to track that.

Calories out=energy expenditure=all activity, bodily function, energy required for digestion of food, exercise, cleaning the house, everything. Definition of terms that create your total calorie burn:

  • RMR=resting metabolic rate-the amount of calories you need to exist without any activity-ie:bedrest
  • TEA-thermic effect of activity-this, obviously, represents the caloric burn of activity, both exercise and non-exercise acitivty.
  • NEAT=non exercise activity thermogenesis=general activity like walking the dog, playing with the kids, cleaning the house, fidgeting, general moving around that is not “exercise.” (This can have a VERY large impact on your daily caloric burn. It’s the difference between sitting on your butt on the computer or watching TV and moving, just doing something, anything.)
  • TEF-thermic effect of food. Basically the energy expended to digest and assimilate food into usable energy.

Lyle McDonald, a very smart guy, has a great article that goes into more depth regarding all of these terms. You can find it here.

Calorie expenditure calculators

The RMR is the component that we don’t control very much. TEF and TEA we can make changes to. There are many calculators out there which can help you determine your energy expenditure. One that seems to be fairly accurate is the Mifflin equation, and you can find the calculator here. To get an idea of how many calories are burned for specific activities, you can use the calculator at Fitness Partner here. Keep in mind these are all estimates, but good starting points.

If you like to get even more specific, you can use the Bodybugg or GoWearFit devices. These are small devices you wear on your arm that measure motion, heat given off, skin response to stress, and temperature. You may have see the contestants on “The Biggest Loser” wearing them. They are cool little toys, and definitely make you more aware of how much you are, (or are not) burning in a given day. They also give you more individualized information than an equation.

I think the most useful application of these is that it truly makes you think about moving more and get the burn higher, and you are super aware of when you are just sitting (oh dang, I’m only burning a calorie a minute here.) Leigh Peele has done a comparison of the two devices which you can find here.

I’ve used the Bodybugg on several different occasions, and I am going to share a few of my observations. I hope this helps you see the impact of how moving, and kind of movement, can impact your calorie burn. Oh-any why does this matter? Because if you burn more, your calorie balance is altered. This can positively impact your weight and your health.

My observations

So here we go: I am 35 years old, female, and weighed 127. My RMR has been tested at 1500 calories which also was shown by the Bodybugg. Here’s some examples of calories burned.

  • 30 minutes moderate intensity steady state cardio-(treadmill walking on an incline)-200 calories
  • Sitting at a computer at work-80 calories per hour
  • Taking a 20 minute walk outside during my break at work-100 calories (see the difference between sitting an just walking-this was a casual walk, not a power-exercise walk)
  • 45 minutes of heavy weight training-220 calories

Calorie burn total for this day, which included 45 minutes of weight training and 30 minutes of cardio for structured exercise, was 2350 calories.

A day where I was mostly sedentary, sitting at work all day and then going to get my hair cut and colored in the evening (which was more sitting) I burned 1800 calories.

Had I just gone for a short walk I could have bumped that burn by a couple hundred calories WITHOUT GOING TO THE GYM! That’s a huge difference in calorie burn. 550 calories is a big difference day to day. Cleaning the house burns a ton of calories. Which reminds me I really need to clean the floor….

Get up and move!

Although the structured exercise had a positive impact on my net calorie burn, it wasn’t the main area. Many people are under the impression that an hour at the gym will counteract all the sitting. Guess what-it doesn’t. Getting up and moving during the day can have much bigger impact than we realize. You don’t HAVE to set aside many hours to dedicate to exercise to get in better shape.

I hope this helps shed some light on how you can burn calories, and the importance of general movement.

Please let me know what you think in the comments below, or share if you have used the Bodybugg or GoWearFit!

Now-go forth and burn!

Kelly Baker: Gluten Free Athlete Profile

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I first ran into Kelly on a bodybuilding/fitness message board. She keeps a journal there, and with gluten free in the title-I was intrigued. Kelly always keeps a positive outlook and has encouraging words for others. Here she is!

Kelly Baker

Kelly Baker

Kelly Baker

Age 31, resides in Columbus Ohio.

National Physique Committee Figure Competitor, Women’s Tri-Fitness Competitor

I was diagnosed July 21, 2008, and oddly enough it was an attempt at finding the best diet for my body. A training partner had undergone the test, received a Celiac diagnosis, and had had the most staggering transformation I’d ever seen. I figured it was worth a shot as I had thought myself lactose intolerant for years.

I didn’t have a true “trigger” so much as I was becoming more symptomatic over time. I’ve probably always been like this.

Training Program

I use the P/RR/S (Power, Rep. Range, Shock) system, combined with plyometrics, and various forms of cardio. I try to be as sports-specific as possible depending on what I’m competing in. My husband and I are looking to do some serious cycling next summer, so I will be more cycling focused between NPC shows.

Nutritional philosophy

I have other major intolerance’s in addition to Celiac Disease in the forms of soy, dairy, eggs, and most nuts and seeds. I stick with lean protein sources and lots of vegetables, fruit, and gluten-free grains. I avoid processed foods as much as absolutely possible. The more ingredients it has the less I trust it.

For pre and post workout nutrition, I have chicken and a rice cake for both. Sometimes I eat Steel Cut oats in place of the rice cake.

Favorite sports supplements

The following from ALR Industries; Chain’d Out, T-X, Zero-Stim, Hyperdrive 3.0, ProAnabol, WTF Pump’d, Primed Ultra, Poison, Comatose, and Lean Dreams. For cycling related power-ups GU Chomps work very well.

(Editor note:I have contacted ALRI in an attempt to obtain a listing of their gluten free products and have not yet received a response. Kelly notes she has never has an issue with their products.)

Upcoming competitions/training plans

I competed in my second Figure show on October 3rd, which will be followed by some medical testing to determine the extent of an injury to my knee. I plan to compete next March in Figure, take most of the summer to do some serious cycling (75-100 mile rides) and compete in two more Figure shows in October 2010.

Advice for other gluten free athletes

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. In some ways it is harder for us to function nutritionally, but in a lot more ways it is easier. We must give our systems quality fuel, and we think about what goes “in” much more than a normal person would. For anyone competing in Bodybuilding or Figure it makes the diet a lot easier. Our diets are cleaner to begin with which means less rebound between shows so returning to show conditioning is easier for us to do.

Final notes to share

July 21, 2008 I got my life back. I’d always been fatigued no matter how much I slept, suffered from low blood sugar crashes several times a day, and couldn’t make the gains I was working so hard to make. That day, I found out that 90% of my diet, pristine by conventional nutrition standards, was toxic to my system.

Once my diet changed the fatigue drained away, the hypoglycemic incidents stopped, and I no longer agonized over the way I’d react to anything that went in my mouth. Discoering I was a Celiac along with my other intolerances was freeing. For nearly 30 years, I had no idea what it was like to actually feel good. and I would not trade any of this for the world.

Thanks for sharing Kelly-best wishes with your knee and your future plans!

Editor note: Read this article about how celiac can help improve you awareness of proper nutrition and thus your diet.

Gluten Free Athlete Profile: Kimberly Bouldin

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I originally “found” Kim through her blog-she has some great stuff so make sure to check her out. Then she “twitted”-or whatever-“tweeted?” about going running and I said to myself-“Self-check this lady out!” Here she is!

Kimberly Bouldin

Kim and her daughter, Hannah

Kim and her daughter, Hannah

Hi, I am Kim. I live in central Ohio, right outside of Columbus with my husband and 2 kids. My current sport is running. I am training for a half-marathon on October 18th. I hope to train for a full marathon next May! I just ran my first race ever in July, a 10K (ran it in 53:22). I finished 2nd in my age group & 25th overall (out of 75). (Editor note: Whoohoo! Way to go! I was a gymnast growing up. I started at age 5 until I was 13 or 14.

As far as celiac and diagnosis, I had suffered on & off since I was a teen with anorexia. I had a recurrence as an adult, after the birth of my daughter. It wasn’t nearly as severe as the first time, but still, something that needed addressed. I began to see a dietician. The dietician is the one who suggested I get tested for Celiac disease after my telling her about all the foods that bothered me when I ate them. I had previously been told that I had IBS (editor note:see-the garbage can diagnosis strikes again!). My bloodwork was positive and I was instructed to go gluten-free. It was only after I went gluten-free that I saw a GI doctor, who wanted me to go back on gluten to confirm the diagnosis with an endoscopy/biopsy. I declined because I felt so much better off of gluten….it was night & day.

That was enough for me. I went on to have my kids tested and my son was diagnosed at the age of 10 with Celiac disease. He did have the endoscopy/biopsy done. I knew better by the time he was tested. He is a thriving, happy 13 year old hockey player now. 😉

I am not positive what my trigger was, but I suspect it was the birth of my first child in 1996. I started
having stomach issues after having him. They got much worse after the birth of my 2nd child in 2002.

Training

Right now my training consists of lots of running. LOL! I run 5 days/week and my max was 35 mpw-miles per week (editor note-I hardly even drive 35 miles per week). I also try to incoprorate strength training, but that has gotten tough as my mileage increased. I am now in the tapering stage of my training, so I am working back in some crosstraining & strength training.

Nutrition

My nutritional philosophy is pretty simple: I strive to eat mainly whole foods that are naturally gluten-free. I do enjoy the occasional treat (dark chocolate is my best friend), but I feel best eating little to no processed foods. I also stay clear of artifical sweetners as much as I can. They really seem to irritate my stomach. If I need to sweeten food or baked goods, I use sugar or agave nectar.

Favorite pre-post workout foods are plain & simple – bananas before. Afterwards…egg white omelet w/spinach & tomatoes, waffles or brown rice cakes with almond butter and fruit spread and fresh fruit.

Favorite sports supplements

Long runs over 8 miles require fueling mid-run & drinking gatorade (powdered & diluted) to keep me from getting dehydrated. For my mid-run fuel, I rely on Clif Shots or Shot Bloks for the most part. They are caffeine free (I don’t drink caffeine) and don’t bother my stomach.

Upcoming competitions

Half Marathon on 10/18/2009 and full marathon in May 2010

Advice for other gluten free athletes

Make sure to treat your body right. Make sure to properly fuel your body for the best performance possible.

You can find out more about Kim at her blog Gluten Free is Life

Thanks for sharing, Kim, and best wishes on your upcoming races!

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!

Top 5 reasons why you should exercise gluten free

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Everyone knows that exercise is good for you, right? With the obesity epidemic on the rise, related disorders and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease rapidly increasing, exercise is potentially one of our most potent weapons against these problems.

However, there are some special considerations that people with celiac disease should think about. Exercise should become a part of lifestyle for all of us-but here is why celiacs in particular can benefit.

Top 5 reasons why you should exercise gluten free

1) Weight Control

For some people with celiac disease, malabsorption may have been an issue to the point where they lost weight. For others, they may have gained weight. For all, the prevalence of processed, low nutritive but high calorie gluten free foods is a potential cause for weight/fat gain. Exercise can assist in maintaining a healthy weight, and the inclusion of weight training can also aid in achieving healthy body composition as far as muscle to fat ratio.

Our everyday lives for the most part tend to be very sedentary in nature. Adding exercise can boost the caloric burn you create throughout your day, which would allow you to maintain a caloric balance more easily.

2) Bone health

Osteoporosis and osteopenia are unfortunate and very common consequences of celiac disease and resultant malabsorption of nutrients. Weight bearing exercise such as walking, and running can aid in remodeling of bone.

Unfortunately, cycling and swimming have not been found to be as beneficial when it comes to bone health. Weight training has a very positive impact on bone health. You may not be able to reverse the weakening of bone you already have, but you can certainly keep it from worsening.

3) Improved mood

Certainly non-celiacs demonstrate this as well. Sometimes though, we celiacs get a case of the “why me’s?” or get frustrated with the challenges of everyday living gluten free. Walking into the break room at work and seeing crumbs all over the counter does it to me!

Step away from the kitchen, and go exercise. Exercise has been shown to release hormones known as endorphins which can boost mood. Also, the neurotransmitter serotonin is released which can also assist in maintaining a positive mood.

4) Improved overall circulation

This could also assist in keeping the gut healthy, or in healing damage already created from gluten in a small way. Blood flow to the gut is decreased during an actual exercise bout (and directed to the working muscles,) but overall the circulation to and activity of the digestive tract is improved with regular exercise.

5) Improved nutrition

Of course this doesn’t come directly from exercise. But exercising may cause you to make healthier nutrition choices. The “halo effect” or where the positive qualities of one thing transfer to another, may make you reach for the carrot instead of the gluten free muffin. Doing one good thing for your body may create a domino effect where you do a second and third good thing for your body. Improving your nutrition by eating more vitamin and nutrient rich whole foods will fill in any deficiencies you may have experienced due to malapsorption. Also you may experience weight/fat loss of that is your goal given an appropriate caloric intake level.

A couple of considerations to keep in mind.

You do want to be sure to get adequate levels of iron and calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D to sustain energy levels and maximize bone health. Also keep in mind, especially if weight training, that protein needs may be higher. Generally accepted levels for weight training athletes (yes you are an athlete) is approximately 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.

So what will exercise do for you? Potentials are limitless-but looking better, feeling strong, keeping bones healthy, thinking positive, and eating well-sounds pretty good to me!