Not every athlete can carbohydrate load on pasta, breads, and cereals. About 1 in 133 people has celiac disease, a disorder in which the body can't tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats (if the oats get contaminated with wheat during processing). In these people, gluten triggers intestinal inflammation and eventually can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, including iron and calcium. Gluten intolerance easily leads to anemia (if iron is not absorbed) and osteoporosis (if calcium is not absorbed).
Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms vary from person to person. Some people experience diarrhea; others complain about constipation and bloating. Your best bet is to talk with your doctor if you are having intestinal problems or have other niggling health concerns including unexplained fatigue, infertility, and lactose intolerance.
For athletes, fueling without gluten can be a challenge. You can still carbohydrate load, however, on rice, corn, potatoes, yams, chickpeas, bananas, fruits, vegetables, juices, and numerous other sources of carbohydrate. To help you with your gluten-free diet, I highly recommend that you meet with a local sports dietitian and read Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide (2006) by Shelley Case, RD. See appendix A for more information sources.
Was this article helpful?