Gluten-free options are everywhere these days, but the vast majority of people who eat these foods do so out of preference or intolerance, and not because they have celiac disease.
If you suffer from this debilitating disease then it’s not about choice, it’s about necessity, and finding something that does not contain gluten and is in no way contaminated with gluten is not easy.
If you’re trying to add muscle then it’s even harder. However, the foods that bodybuilders and athletes love so much also happen to be foods that are free of gluten and gluten contamination, which means you can still build muscle and improve your strength and overall fitness even if you have celiac disease.
So what are your options if you have celiac disease and you want to increase your intake of protein and complex carbs?
Bodybuilding Proteins for Celiacs
A diet rich in the following whole food protein sources will supplement muscle growth, helping to eradicate fatigue, improve definition and increase your overall wellbeing.
Thanks to the thermic effect of food, a diet rich in protein can also burn more calories at rest than a diet rich in fats and carbs.
- Lean Meats: Chicken and fish are fantastic sources of protein. They contain minimal fat and are packed with essential amino acids—just what your body needs to grow. Tuna, chicken and turkey are also very versatile meats.
- Eggs: Once considered to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, we now know that eggs may actually be able to reverse many of the problems caused by a diet rich in sodium and fat. They contain a balance of fats that can reduce the bad cholesterol in your body and increase the good cholesterol, all while providing you with 7 grams of protein per 70 calorie egg. Just make sure you limit your whole egg consumption to no more than 2 per day, opting for egg whites only (4 grams of protein per 20 calories) if you need more protein beyond that.
- Nuts: Almonds, hazelnuts, cashews—they all contain a hearty dose of protein, as well as a profile of essential vitamins and fats. Some nuts contain more fat and less protein than others, with hazelnuts and almonds being two of the better options and macadamia nuts and pine nuts being two of the worst. But there’s no reason why a healthy, balanced diet can’t contain a moderate amount of many different nuts.
- Beans: Kidney beans are a great source of protein and fiber and the same applies to many other types of beans. They are often prepared with gluten containing foods, especially if you purchase them at fast-food restaurants, but if you purchase from a grocery store and prepare them yourself then you can get all of the benefits without any of the gluten.
Protein Powders for Celiacs
There is no gluten in whey protein and this is the most popular protein powder on the market. Due to the way many of these powders are manufactured, you will need to choose very carefully, preferably opting for grass-fed, antibiotic-free whey that contains very few ingredients and no additives, such as the All-Natural Whey Isolate from MorelliFit.
If you also happen to be intolerant to lactose, or you find that you bloat when consuming whey, then there are other options available:
- Pea Protein: A great replacement for casein protein as pea protein digests slowly but still contains all essential amino acids as well as a very high protein content.
- Brown Rice Protein: This is a clean, high quality protein that has a unique flavor and works best when added to other—preferably flavored—protein powders.
- Hemp Protein: Although the protein content is not as high as other protein powders, it is packed full of vitamins and minerals and can add some much needed variety to your diet.
Alternative Carb Sources for Celiacs
Whether you’re bodybuilding or just looking for some quality carb sources, there are options that don’t include gluten. In fact, some of these are better for you than their gluten-containing counterparts, so you have every reason to add them to your diet whether you’re gluten intolerant/celiac or not:
- Oats: These protein-packed carbs are full of amino acids, vitamins and minerals, not to mention quality carbs and fiber. They will release energy slowly and keep you fuller for longer. That’s why they are a staple food for anyone looking to lose weight, while their high protein content makes them a great choice with bodybuilders. And because oats are gluten-free, you can eat them without issue! Just make sure you avoid the popular commercial varieties as these are often processed alongside wheat and barley.
- Quinoa: Packed full of protein and quality carbs, quinoa is a superfood that is low in calories, low in fat and tastes great.
- Brown Rice: Not only is brown rice protein the ideal whey protein substitute for people with allergies and intolerances, but whole brown rice is also a great source of complex carbs and fiber.
What to Avoid
There are a few things that you need to avoid as a celiac looking to pack on muscle, because it just takes one trace of gluten to mess up your health and training in the short term.
- Supplements: A lot of the supplements on the market may in someway be tainted with gluten. If they don’t come with a gluten-free label, then don’t buy them and don’t consume them. Even if gluten doesn’t appear in the ingredient list and isn’t listed as an allergen, you still need to be cautious.
- Fast Food: While most fast food restaurants have “gluten-free” options, there is no guarantee that these will be free from contamination. The restaurants state this themselves, but only in the small print and by the time you read that, it could be too late.
- Detox Teas: Flavored teas in general can contain trace amounts of gluten, so if you’ve decided that you need a quick detox before you start your new diet, be very careful when making your choices.
- Oatmeal: If it’s preprepared then it may be contaminated with gluten, as is the case with many commercial forms of oatmeal.
- Wheat Alternatives: Semolina, spelt, wheat bran, graham flour and bulgur may seem like great gluten-free wheat alternatives, but they are not.
What you put into your body matters, especially if you have celiac disease. On top of getting the right proteins and carbs to help you get to your goals, you also want to be sure to get enough greens into your system.
Having a great greens supplement is the perfect way to do this, but you need to be sure that the supplement is certified gluten-free, such as Detox Organics.