NFCA Athlete for Awareness Susan Maloney tackles the tough questions on living gluten-free as a professional body builder.
Hello gluten-free friends,
I’ve recently been asked the following questions that I thought I would turn into a blog entry.
How do other bodybuilders and/or athletes respond when they learn that you are gluten-free? Are they supportive or understanding? Do you know other gluten-free athletes?
I first shared that I was diagnosed with celiac disease backstage last year with several of the Pro Women I was competing with, and their initial response was one of not knowing or understanding what celiac disease and gluten-free living was all about. Next, (mind you, these women had been dieting for about 12 weeks and weren’t aware of gluten-free food options) most admitted they would be devastated without their usual breads, pastas, pizzas, cakes and post-show/off-season treats!
I’m a little different from the average bodybuilder in that I maintain my off-season weight fairly close to my show-ready physique, and thus, I do not regularly eat gluten-free breads, cookies, cakes, pastas, pizzas or any ‘starchy’ carbs other than oatmeal and sweet potatoes. Additionally, I have fructose malabsorption, which means I cannot eat fruits and several higher carb gluten-free options that many athletes and bodybuilders consume. So, that is a big difference for most athletes and individuals at large.
I find that most people do not understand gluten-free eating options or celiac disease in general. And yes, many think it is the next “fad” similar to following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Surprisingly though, I read numerous bodybuilding blogs from other athletes who are raving about the health, wellness and “feel good” benefits of following a gluten-free diet (celiac and non-celiac alike).
Much has been publicized in the social media regarding professional football players and a host of other professional athletes who are realizing personal bests and great performances since going gluten-free. I am not personally familiar with other gluten-free athletes on the day to day, but I do read as many blogs as I can from those nationally known athletes. I also host two other gluten-free blogs for supplement companies, and I’m often asked to share my day-to-day meal plan.
Most of the questions I am asked pertain to what kind of carbs are gluten-free and what I eat. My usual day of foods is pretty simple, and I follow it every day. Start the day with gluten-free oatmeal and a scoop of egg white protein; lift/train or cardio at 5 a.m.; then a post-workout shake of egg white protein. The remainder of my meals throughout the day consists of an alternating schedule of 5 egg whites or 3-4 ounces of fish with vegetables. I regularly eat a higher fat fish (tuna steak or salmon) 3-4 times per week, and I am happily able to tolerate a glass of red wine 1-2 nights per week. I also have a higher carb meal each evening that includes ½ cup rice or sweet potato/squash and root vegetables when in season. I spend about 2 hours/day doing food prep, and while following this routine might sound a bit boring to some, it does make thinking about meals much simpler!
I do enjoy cooking gluten-free foods for my daughter such as gluten-free turkey/veggie lasagna, grilled gluten-free chicken wraps, gluten-free pumpkin bread and mousse, and a few other special requests, but I do maintain a gluten-free kitchen as it takes the guesswork and fear of cross-contamination out of things.
Thanks for reading! I appreciate your support.