Health Column: Gluten-free carb loading |

Health Column: Gluten-free carb loading

Angela Wetzel
Free Press Health Columnist

Spring seems to be here, and with the beautiful weather comes a desire to go out and breathe in the fresh air with a hike, bike ride or run. This also means that race season for us runners is gearing up, and it’s time to get in tip top shape.

If you are an athlete, especially a runner, you are used to carb loading the night before a race. This became an issue when I went gluten free, no longer able to eat a big bowl of pasta.

I could have decided to load up on gluten-free pasta, but honestly it’s not always the best tasting. Instead I decided to go with foods that have natural carbs, and I increased my protein intake. So in place of pasta, I have a chicken breast or pork chop along with a baked potato, a side of rice and a vegetable. Most times I will have broccoli, another great natural carb.

These foods will not only provide me with the carbohydrates I need, but provide a good base of energy, short term and long term. With all of these being natural items (not a processed item like pasta), I have a better base!

Breakfast the day of the race remains mostly the same for me: two eggs, bacon and a piece of toast or two. This provides me with short-term and long-term energy before the race. The other trick is to drink water, but not too much. The general rule is to drink 16-20 ounces of water the morning of the race, but quit drinking about an hour before the race. You don’t want to be looking for a bathroom halfway through the run. Then, right before the race, take a few sips of water.

You can take a bottle of water along, but if you are running a 5K it may not be necessary. I usually chew gum to keep my mouth from getting dry.

After the race, don’t forget to rehydrate. A lot of races will provide water and juice or a drink like Gatorade/Powerade after a race.

Now that spring has sprung, get out, get moving, get healthy!

GJ Free Press health columnist Angela Wetzel has celiac disease and is president of Gluten Free Grand Valley, a support group for those with celiac disease and wheat allergies. Contact her at or visit Gluten Free Grand Valley on Facebook.

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