How Gluten Sensitivity Affects Tri Performance

It Makes You Fat

Many think that our obesity epidemic is a result of a slovenly, TV-addicted lifestyle and while some of that may be true there are many people who follow the USDA's "healthy" dietary guidelines, exercise an hour a day and STILL gain weight. What's up with that?  It all comes down to our love affair with foods that cause our insulin levels to stay stuck on high. High insulin levels make us STORE fat, especially around the belly, and one big enemy behind chronically high insulin levels is wheat.

More: Will Gluten-Free Foods Help You Lose Weight?

Want proof? The glycemic index, which measures blood sugar level increases, of whole wheat bread is 72, while plain table sugar is 59. Kidney beans come in at 51, grapefruit is 25, and salmon and walnuts have zero effect on blood sugar. In fact, few foods have as high a GI as foods made from wheat. And you already know how excess weight can slow performance.

More: Can Less Gluten Help You Lose Weight?

So here's what you should do:

1. If you suspect that you have gluten issues talk to your healthcare practitioner and ask to be tested. You may encounter resistance, so stand your ground if this is something you want to do. In addition to blood work, Timothy O'Donnell used a test (one I've used as well) to discover his gluten issue called the Metametrix GI Effects Complete Profile. Ask your doctor about this.  

2. If you don't want to hassle with tests and doctors, perform an elimination diet on yourself. Go completely gluten-free for three weeks and monitor things like energy, GI distress, headaches, weight shifts and pain. If you see no improvement then return to eating gluten if you wish. If you aren't sure if you feel any better, eat gluten after your three-week hiatus for several meals in a row and THEN see how you feel. Sometimes it's the reintroduction that is an even more powerful indicator.

3. If you see improvement after three weeks clean, then kick the gluten habit. This doesn't mean you should switch to eating large volumes of processed foods made from non-gluten grains! An occasional gluten-free treat is fine, but better carb choices are those that look most like nature herself: sweet potatoes, legumes, brown rice, fruits, and of course, vegetables. There are plenty of healthy alternatives out there; it's just about building new habits.

Once you remove gluten from your diet due to sensitivity issues, eating even a small amount of it will quickly remind you why you stopped eating gluten in the first place. That alone, over time, will keep you on the straight and narrow.

More: Create Your Gluten-Free Sports Diet

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About the Author

Miriam Zacharias

Miriam Zacharias, PhD., is a triathlon lifestyle expert, sports nutritionist and peak performance coach for anyone looking to up the level of their game. She has been leading wellness programs for health care professionals for over 13 years and is Chief Nutrition Officer at TriathlonExperts.com. Miriam's secret to racing faster can be found in her highly acclaimed guidebook, Fast and Faster: How to Support an Endurance Triathlete, available at www.triathlonexperts.com.
Miriam Zacharias, PhD., is a triathlon lifestyle expert, sports nutritionist and peak performance coach for anyone looking to up the level of their game. She has been leading wellness programs for health care professionals for over 13 years and is Chief Nutrition Officer at TriathlonExperts.com. Miriam's secret to racing faster can be found in her highly acclaimed guidebook, Fast and Faster: How to Support an Endurance Triathlete, available at www.triathlonexperts.com.

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