Training

Banana bread

Banana+bread.jpg

This recipe is not really my own, it’s kind of a mix of a few different ones I have used over time – the great thing is that it seems to work out ok every time – no need to weigh your flour for this one, get it about right and it should be fine! 

Quick and easy to make, with staple ingredients from the fridge and cupboard, so as soon as you have a couple of brown looking bananas you can whip one up.

Yes, it has a bit of sugar, but still on the low side.  I make it often for my active kids and they love it as a snack.  At least it’s home-made, which means none of the additives that many of the store-bought varieties contain. 

Nice on it’s own, fresh from the oven, and also lasts a couple of days in an airtight container.  It might last longer but we never have any left to know!

Feel free to adjust recipe to suit tastes – you could add sultanas or change the topping to any sort of nuts or seeds.

 

Ingredients:

2-3 ripe bananas, mashed

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup wholemeal plain flour

¾ cup white plain flour

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Chopped walnuts (optional)

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.  Line a loaf tin with baking paper. 

In a large bowl, combine mashed banana, eggs, brown sugar and olive oil.  In another bowl, sift flours (if you have time, mostly I don’t bother!) and mix well with bicarb of soda and cinnamon.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well.  Pour into prepared loaf tin. Top with chopped walnuts if desired.  Bake for ~45 minutes until golden brown and a cake skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean

Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm or cold.

Can jelly heal tendons? Maybe.....

Jelly.jpg

Much hype surrounds the role of gelatin in the repair of connective tissue injuries, but can it really make a difference, or is it just another nutrition fad? Nutrition trends like this can quickly grow wings and before you know it every injured athlete is making jelly for dessert.  Unfortunately in the case of gelatin it’s not as simple as daily bowl of jelly – the dose and timing are critical if it’s going to have an impact. 

Should home-made jelly concoctions be the new norm pre-training in the rehab gym, or are we all getting a bit carried away? 

Collagen and tendons

Connective tissues like ligaments and tendons are made up primarily of collagen fibres. It is the amount of collagen and cross-links within collagen that can impact on performance. Stiffness in the tendon allows for greater force production and subsequent strength, power and speed, but an imbalance between the strength of the muscle and the strength of the tendon or ligament can increase injury risk. 

Following a tendon injury, repairing the crosslinks is a high priority. Both training and nutrition can influence the number of collagen crosslinks.

 The role of gelatin

Glycine and proline are the common amino acids in collagen, and are both found in gelatin.  Vitamin C is also important for the process of collagen synthesis. Making these nutrients available in the bloodstream prior to exercise can promote absorption into the tendon.

A recent study by Shaw et.al. (2016) demonstrated that the increase in amino acids one hour after consuming a gelatin supplement was sufficient to increase collagen content. They showed a doubling of collagen synthesis by doing exercise that loads the tendon, and a further doubling of collagen synthesis with the addition of 15g gelatin pre-exercise (vs minimal impact of a 5g gelatin dose). Further research is required to determine effective dosages of both gelatin and Vitamin C, and whether doses should be scaled to body size also.   

These data suggest that adding gelatin with Vitamin C to an intermittent exercise program improves collagen synthesis and could play a beneficial role in both injury prevention and tissue repair. This has implications for reducing time to return to training, improved tendon functionality and potential performance outcomes.

Palatability problems

Consuming 15g of gelatin pre-training is easier said than done! The Shaw study mixed gelatin powder into Ribena for immediate consumption. Gelatin can be mixed with juice, made it into home-made ‘firm’ jellies/lollies or even used to create gelatin-rich pancakes! Whatever works....but just be prepared that 15g gelatin can be pretty heavy going.

Is gelatin worth the effort?

The problem when interesting research appears is that everyone suddenly becomes an expert and wants to jump on the bandwagon. There is still much to learn about dosages of both gelatin and Vitamin C and expected outcomes. On the other hand, if it does no harm and may speed up return from injury, which is ultimately the goal of an injured athlete, then it becomes an attractive option.

One note of caution - gelatin is increasingly being sold as a commercial product by supplement companies, posing a potential risk of contamination, so athletes who fall under any anti-doping code should be cautious. 

If you are interested in gelatin, and nutrition for injury in general, a session with a sports dietitian can help to ensure you are meeting your specific needs. 

For more sports nutrition info like this, I would love to send you free updates and recipes, just leave your details here. You can also follow my pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or check out my Thoughts page for more articles.

 Want to learn more:

 Shaw, G., et al. (2016) Vitamin C–enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr.

 Sigma Nutrition Podcast:

SNR #143: Keith Baar, PhD – Tendon Stiffness, Collagen Production & Gelatin for Performance & Injury http://sigmanutrition.com/episode143/

 

Six of the best carbohydrate foods to improve your training and performance

Not all carbohydrate foods are equal.  For athletes, it’s not just about eating mounds of rice and pasta.  The quality of your carbs counts.  Smart carb choices can help athletes to feel great and perform at their best.  You can get more nutritional value from your fuel foods with selective choices.  It could be as simple as wild or brown rice sometimes instead of white all the time, or choosing a wholemeal pasta.  Or a wholegrain mix such as the one pictured above. 

Here are 6 of my favourite carbohydrate foods for athletes, to boost nutrition, health and performance.

Sweet potato

Sweet potato is a terrific carbohydrate source for training and energy levels.  Sweet potato has a lower glycemic index than white potato (remembering white potato is still good for you too!).  Sweet potato contains more carbohydrate than white potato, but lower in carbohydrate than rice, pasta, and many other grains (for example, the carbohydrate content of white potato is ~12g/100g cooked, sweet potato ~15g/100g cooked, brown rice ~30g/100g cooked). More benefits - fibre, vitamins such as Vitamins A (beta-carotene) and C, and taste!

Barley

Not a fancy expensive ancient grain, and when you think of barley you may be reminiscing about your grandmother’s lamb and barley soup!  But barley is now back in vogue and for good reason.  Barley is a low GI wholegrain, packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre.  Barley, like oats, contains beta-glucan, a soluble type of fibre applauded for its heart health benefits. 

Super versatile, barley goes well in soups, casseroles, breakfast dishes, cold in salads and great in risottos – there is a great Barley Risotto recipe in my book Eat Right for Your Life.

Sourdough rye bread

If you love to eat bread, make it sourdough.  Research is showing that sourdough bread, although it still contains gluten, can be more easily digested than regular wheat-based breads.  Try to select fresh baked sourdough from a local bakery and experiment with the different varieties to see what works for you – rye or spelt are terrific options for nutrition and low GI energy pre-training.

Bananas

A banana is the perfect portable pre-training snack – just enough carbs to fill that space in your tummy and give you an energy boost for the session ahead.  On their own, or part of a recovery smoothie or fruit/yoghurt/granola mix, bananas are a winner.

Sweetcorn

Sweetcorn is a sneaky source of nutritious carbohydrate, also packed with nutrients and fibre, and a similar carbohydrate content to white potato at ~13g/100g cooked.  Great in salads, soups, main meals or a cob of corn as a snack.

Oats

One of the cheapest and best carb options around are oats.  A small amount goes a long way and can keep your engine running for hours.  Rich in fibre and nutrients, and with a surprising protein content, you can find more detailed info in one of my more popular blog posts Oats vs quinoa for health, energy and performance.

Sorry if I’ve missed your favourite, there are plenty of great carbohydrate-rich foods out there!  Performance isn’t just about carbs though - plan your meals and snacks to meet your day-to-day, training and performance nutrition needs.

For more performance nutrition info, check out my blog page.  You can also leave your details at http://www.lisamiddleton.com.au/thoughts-index/ if you would like me to send you freeperformance nutrition updates and recipes, plus you can fllow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

High performance snacks you should be eating at 3.30pm to get the best out of your post-work workout

Do you sometimes feel like you are working super hard at the gym, but not seeing the results you are after?   If you head straight to training after work, you may not have eaten since lunchtime, or maybe since breakfast!  Your fuel stores will be low, and heading into your session hungry and depleted will make it difficult to get the best results from your training.

Even if you are trying to lose weight, it can still be useful to have some fuel on board for energy, so you can work harder during your session.   If you are trying to gain muscle then you also need energy to lift, pull, push and build.  Regardless of your specific goals and whether you work out at the local gym or train as an elite athlete, nutrition can make a difference to training results and performance.

What to include in your pre-exercise snack

Protein

Protein is often the neglected nutrient when it comes to snacking, as many of our typical snacks are carbohydrate based (think fruit, biscuits, bars, etc.).  Including protein in a snack will keep you full for longer, help keep blood glucose levels stable, and assist with muscle growth and repair.  You can read more about protein in another post of mine Back to Basics Protein.

Carbohydrate

Carbohydrate provides fuel for muscles to work hard and for your brain to focus and get you through your session. Low GI foods are sometimes recommended before exercise for sustained energy levels, however many low GI foods are rich in fibre which can cause gut problems pre-running for some people.  Play around with it to work out the best types of nutrient-dense carbohydrate foods that sit well for you. Amount is important too - if your goal is to get fit and lose weight you won’t need as much carbohydrate as someone in heavy training for a marathon. For more on carbohydrate for exercise please click here.

Healthy fats

It's important to include healthy fats in your diet, however fat takes a while to digest, so it may be best not to over-do it pre-workout.  

Snacks for pre-exercise

Below are some pre-exercise snack ideas that will help to keep your energy levels high and your muscles firing.

* Fruit salad with natural/Greek yoghurt and chopped almonds         

* Rye or corn based dry biscuits with cheese and sliced tomato

* Fruit smoothie, made with dairy or soy milk, yoghurt and fruit (note – rice, oat, almond, coconut milks are low in high quality protein)

* Sushi roll

* Mountain bread wrap with turkey and salad

* Natural muesli with Greek yoghurt

* Vegetable sticks and wholegrain crackers with hommus dip         

* Rice paper roll

* Soup eg. chicken and vegetable or minestrone

* Chia pudding made with milk and topped with fruit

* Banana and a handful of nuts

If you love reading about nutrition for exercise and performance, I would love to offer you free nutrition updates and recipes, just leave your details on my Thoughts page and feel free to have a read of some of my other articles while you are there.

Need some help planning the best meals and snacks for you? Look up an Accredited Sports Dietitian near you at Sports Dietitians Australia.

Training before, during or after work - 6 super foods to lift your game

Image by  Bec Doyle Photography  from  Eat Right For Your Life  (Wilkinson Publishing)

Image by Bec Doyle Photography from Eat Right For Your Life (Wilkinson Publishing)

If you are stuck in the office all week, getting out for some exercise is a great way to improve your health, fitness, concentration and motivation. It's the natural way to reduce stress too.  Whether you join friends for a social game of soccer or netball after work, or enjoy a lunchtime run with a colleague, the benefits of regular exercise are enormous, and making it social can make it more enjoyable and keep you on track.

Not everyone has the genetic make-up to be an elite athlete, but we still may want to perform to the best of our ability. It doesn’t matter what level you compete at, or if you just train for yourself, you can use nutrition to your advantage for that extra spring in your step or extra seconds off your time.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the best foods to support your weekday workouts, straight from my book Eat Right for Your Life. There are 10 foods in total in the book, but we just have room for 6 of the most super here.  

6 of the best foods for performance

Fish

Many people don’t eat enough fish and seafood. If you know that includes you, then make it a goal to have fresh fish for dinner at least once per week then build from there. If you’re not a huge fan of fresh fish, the canned option is also good. Oily fish are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than standard white flesh fish. Sardines and salmon are particularly good for omega-3 fatty acids but are also a great way to get extra calcium if you eat the canned version with the bones (IMPORTANT – don’t eat the bones in fresh salmon!). One small can of fish can provide about 20g of protein, making it a convenient and portable source for muscle recovery after exercise.

Avocado

Some people avoid avocado with the fear it will add weight but what they don’t realise is the monunsaturated fat in avocado is good for you and could actually help with weight loss because of its effect on satiety. The good fats also mean you’re adding important fat-soluble vitamins. You may also be surprised to learn that avocados contain fibre, which assists with helping you feel full. Add avocado to salads, use as a spread, or for a delicious breakfast combined with fresh tomato, coriander and feta on rye toast, or with eggs for a lower-carbohydrate option.

Greek yoghurt

By choosing natural or Greek yoghurt you avoid the extra sugar and additives that are found in many yoghurts. Yoghurt gives you high-quality protein and is low glycemic index so will provide sustained energy for training or a game. With a combination of protein and naturally occurring carbohydrate, yoghurt is also great in the hours post-exercise for improved recovery. If you’re not a big milk fan, yoghurt will help you to meet your daily calcium requirements for strong bones and muscle function. But the greatest benefit of all is that the good bacteria in yoghurt can help to boost your immune system, keeping you healthy to train and compete at your best.

Kale

Normally I am not a big fan of so-called ‘superfoods’, however the thing I love about kale is it is not super expensive like some. Most of the ‘flavour-of-the-month’ superfoods seem to build a reputation that allows producers to charge exorbitant prices, but this does not seem to have happened with kale. Kale is a highly nutritious vegetable but it doesn’t mean you need it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other green leafy vegetables and herbs will provide similar benefits, so try to vary your options and include kale as one of your regular greens. Kale and other dark green leafy veg also contain nitrate, just like beetroot.

Beetroot

Studies show that regular intake of beetroot juice by cyclists helped to improve endurance performance. You might not need to down litres of purple juice, but you can increase your intake of the active ingredient nitrate by including more beetroot in your diet. There is also research indicating that beetroot juice may reduce blood pressure, an added bonus. Other foods that also contain nitrate include leafy greens such as rocket lettuce (arugula), another good reason to eat your greens, and your purples.

Watermelon

Watermelon is one of the few fruits with a higher glycemic index. High GI foods are ideal for post-exercise to ensure carbohydrates are quickly absorbed.   Watermelon (or any melons) also has a high water content, which can assist with rehydration. Like tomatoes, watermelon also contains lycopene, which may reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men. So forget the oranges for post-game, hook into a plate of watermelon for fast recovery.

If you are keen to learn more about the best foods (and beware foods) for different stages of life, you will find these, plus the recipe for Baked Fish with Warm Lentil and Beetroot Salad pictured above, in Eat Right for Your Life

I have a new book due for release next year with a specific focus on foods for performance, not just for sport but performance in business and everyday life.  If you are interested in regular performance nutrition updates, simply leave your details at http://www.lisamiddleton.com.au/thoughts-index/ . 

Best snacks for before exercise to perform at your best

Is fruit on its own the best pre-exercise snack?

Is fruit on its own the best pre-exercise snack?

Performance nutrition is a topic I am lucky enough to talk about pretty much every day.  I love talking about exercise and nutrition, and helping people get the best out of their training efforts, whether they workout at the local gym or train as an elite athlete.  I find a lot of people feel like they have their nutrition mostly under control, but don’t seem to be getting the best out of their training.   A lack of appropriate nutrition before and after training may be contributing to this, and may especially be a problem if you train in the late afternoon.  I see a lot of clients who head straight to training after work or school, but haven’t eaten for 4 or 5 hours since lunchtime.  By then, your body will have digested and absorbed many of the nutrients from lunch and there may not be much left to fuel your training session.  If you are trying to lose weight, it can still be useful to have some fuel on board to provide the energy to train harder and burn more kilojoules.   If you are working hard in the gym to put on weight, then you need energy to lift, pull and push.  If you are going into your session fatigued and low on fuel, you can’t expect to get the best results from your training (unless you have a planned strategy to complete some sessions lower on carbohydrate, but I will save that for another post).

 So what should you look for in a pre-exercise snack?

Protein

Protein is often the neglected nutrient when it comes to snacking, as many of our typical snacks are carbohydrate based (think fruit, biscuits, flour-based products).  Including protein in a snack means it will keep you full for longer, but can also help manage blood glucose levels, and is an essential nutrient for muscle growth and repair.  If you are doing a lighter cardio session then the protein is probably less important and you may be fine with a small carbohydrate snack (if anything), but for longer, heavier sessions there are benefits from including protein.

Carbohydrate

Low-glycemic index carbohydrate foods are those that are more slowly absorbed over time, resulting in more stable blood glucose levels and potential benefits for energy levels.  However many low GI foods are also high in fibre, and too much fibre pre-exercise can cause stomach upset for some people (especially runners).  Include carbohydrate in pre-exercise snacks, and choose low-GI if you tolerate it.  But the total amount of carbohydrate is potentially more important than the glycemic index, so it is a matter of working out which carbohydrate foods sit best for you before you train.

Healthy fats

It's important to include healthy fats in your diet if you are fit and active.  Fat can take a while to digest, so you may be better to add more of your healthy fats and oils to meals after exercise rather than before .  Avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil and fish all provide healthy fats.  

Snacks for pre-exercise 

Below are some pre-exercise snack ideas that will help to keep your energy levels high, contain some protein but not too much fat.  The serving size that is best for you will vary according to your goals, the type of training you do, and individual needs. 

* Soup eg. chicken and vegetable or minestrone

* Chopped fresh fruit with natural yoghurt and chopped almonds         

* Quinoa tabouli with chickpeas

* Rye or corn based dry biscuits with low-fat cheese and sliced tomato

Fruit smoothie, made with low-fat dairy or soy milk, yoghurt and fruit (most other milks are low in high quality protein eg. rice, oat, coconut, almond)

* Bean and rice salad

* Sushi handroll

* Greek yoghurt with berries

* Mountain bread with turkey and salad

* Tuna with rice and vegetables

 Natural muesli with low-fat natural yoghurt

* Vegetable sticks and wholegrain crackers with hommus dip         

 * Home-made popcorn (mix in some almonds)

 * Fruit/grain toast spread with ricotta cheese

* Rice paper roll

* Corn Thin with smoked salmon, low-fat cream cheese and dill

Trail mix - almond, walnuts, cashews and sun-dried apricots

Chia pudding made with milk and topped with fruit

* Toast or wholegrain crackers with avocado and salmon

 If you are unsure about the best type of snacks and amounts for your needs, talk to an Accredited Sports Dietitian who can help you plan your daily meals and snacks to meet your nutrition and training requirements.  To find a dietitian in your area, go to Sports Dietitians Australia.

If you are interested in learning more about nutrition for exercise, training and sport, please sign up for my free newsletter at the bottom of this page, and you can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more nutrition updates.

 

 

 

The 10 best wheat and gluten-free carbohydrate foods if you train a lot

Grilled vegetable and quinoa salad, gluten-free

Grilled vegetable and quinoa salad, gluten-free

If you don't eat gluten or wheat then you are part of a very large club.  It seems that more and more people seem to be going grain and gluten free, and for a variety of reasons. For some people it is critical to their health for no gluten not to pass their lips, while others may be avoiding wheat unnecessarily, without really knowing if their body is better off or not.

The original wheat avoiders are those with coeliac disease who simply cannot tolerate a crumb of any gluten-containing food.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat and related grains such as rye, barely, triticale and oats.  Gluten truly is toxic to people with coeliac disease as it damages the lining of the small intestine and must be avoided at all costs for short-term digestive comfort and long-term health. 

Wheat can also cause digestive symptoms if you don't have coeliac disease.  If you are following a new eating style then you also may be avoiding wheat, and this may or may not be necessary.  I was speaking with the owner of a cake business recently and he mentioned the increasing sales of his flourless cake range.  Upon asking his customers why they are choosing the flourless, the frequent answer is 'because it is healthier'.  But is it really healthier for everybody?  Many people do need to avoid wheat products but how do YOU know if you should avoid wheat and gluten?  Here are the three main conditions that lead to avoidance of gluten and wheat:

- Coeliac disease

  Nil gluten allowed, full stop.

- Fructose malabsorption

More and more people are being diagnosed with fructose malabsorption.  The hydrogen breath test companies must be raking it in, with fructose and lactose malaborption testing readily available and although lengthy, can provide an indication of existing intolerances.  If your gut does not absorb fructose well, it is likely you may have trouble with fructans, which are found in wheat-based foods (individual tolerance varies significantly, so it is worth seeing an Accredited Practising Dietitian for more advice so that you are not avoiding foods that you could be enjoying).

- Gluten sensitivity/intolerance or Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Many people describe a range of gastrointestinal symptoms that improve when they stop eating gluten, so the natural inclination is to think this is a 'gluten sensitivity’.  There are a wide range of factors that can cause gut symptoms, including stress which is sometimes overlooked.  

Research has shown that gluten may not be the main culprit when it comes to Irritable Bowel type symptoms, but it could be the malabsorption of fermentable sugars (FODMAPs), some of which are present in wheat-based foods.  It is worth investigating a little further if you have gastrointestinal symptoms, see your doctor and specialist/s if required to ensure you are making dietary choices that are appropriate for your individual circumstances. 

 

The other popular reason that people avoid wheat is because the latest diet they are following tells them to!  Whether it be Paleo, LCHF, Atkins.....many fad diets recommend a reduction in carbohydrate, which is often very successful for weight loss, but unfortunately some diets also imply that 'wheat is toxic'.  Yes, toxic to someone with coeliac disease, but not for most people.  Personally, I am all for reducing carbohydrate as I think most people eat too much, but if you have a healthy digestive system then you should have absolutely no trouble digesting wheat. 

Some people DO just feel better avoiding wheat.  If you cut out wheat you are not just avoiding nutritious carbohydrate foods like wholegrains - you will also omit cakes, biscuits, savoury snacks, pastries and many other processed, high sugar and low-nutrient foods.  So it makes sense you would feel better and probably lose weight eating less of the latter.

Poor old bread seems to get terribly bullied when it comes to grain bashing, it is always the first food to be discarded when there is a change to wheat-free.  But it may not be the rye/spelt/wholegrain slice that is contributing to digestive symptoms.  It may just be the amount....think big thick sandwiches (the ones you buy at sandwich shops are often equivalent to about 4 pieces of standard bread) and overflowing bowls of pasta........eat a bit less at each sitting, and slowly, and your digestive symptoms could likely improve.

Be aware that sometimes a change to wheat and gluten-free can lead to weight gain rather than weight loss, not to mention constipation if fibre intake is reduced.  Some of the gluten-free substitutes are low in fibre and can be higher in fat/kilojoules, and often not as filling as wholegrain wheat options.  This is important to consider if you are eating gluten-free and trying to lose weight. 

If you DO need to avoid wheat, and you train really hard, it can be a real challenge to make sure you are eating carbohdyrate foods that are nutrient-dense (rather than living on processed gluten-free bread, rice crackers and jelly lollies for carbohydrates).  Here are some super nutritious wheat and gluten-free foods that will give you carbs to power your training and have you recovering like a champ, without the gastrointestinal issues.  

POTATO (SWEET OR WHITE) - For some reason potatoes have gone out of favour in recent years, but as far as a natural source of carbohydrate, you can't go past nutritious potatoes.  Often sweet potato is recommended over white, usually because of its lower glycemic index and vitamin content, but white potato with a higher glycemic index is terrific for post-exercise meals, and is fine when combined with other vegetables anyway.  Remember, although potato is higher carbohydrate than other vegetables, it is still a lot lower in carbohydrate than rice, pasta, and many other grains ( for example, the carbohydrate content of white potato is ~12.5g/100g cooked, sweet potato ~19g/100g cooked, brown rice ~30g/100g cooked).

SWEET CORN - Sweetcorn is another sneaky source of carbohydrate, also packed with nutrients and fibre, and a similar carbohydrate content to white potato at ~13g/100g cooked.  Great in salads, soups, main meals or a cob of corn as a snack.

QUINOA - Probably the most over-promoted and over-estimated food in the world, if you can afford quinoa it is still a great gluten-free 'seed' (see my comparison of oats an quinoa for more detail Oats vs quinoa for health, energy and performance.

RICE - Super-rich in carbohydrate, try the different colours and varieties of rice, or one of the many rice mixes available these days (such as rice with lentils or quinoa) to boost the fibre and nutrient content.  There is nothing wrong with white rice too, especially if you get lots of fibre and nutrition from other foods.  If you are looking for optimal nutrition value though,  go for the less processed varieties (but not everything you eat has to be wholegrain or brown all the time!).  If you are active, sometimes too much fibre can be a problem with stomach symptoms, particularly around competition.

OATS* - Oats are still controversial for people with coeliac disease and in Australia oats are not permitted to be considered gluten-free, although in many European countries uncontaminated oats are considered safe.  The issue is complex and relates to contamination risks during processing and also a component in oats called avenins that some people can react to.  For those avoiding wheat for reasons other than coeliac disease, enjoy oats regularly.  For more info on oats see my previous blog mentioned above Oats vs quinoa for health, energy and performance.

RYE/SPELT BREAD (not suitable for coeliac) - If you have coeliac disease you need to avoid rye flour and all bread needs to be of the gluten-free variety.  But if you are trying to reduce gluten for other reasons then choosing a bread with a high proportion of rye vs wheat, or a spelt slice, can be a tasty source of carbohydrates.

GLUTEN-FREE PASTA - Pasta is a quick and easy carbohydrate option for active people. Gluten-free pasta has improved over the years, and you can now find a wide range of varieties in most supermarkets.  If it's a while since you have tried gluten-free pasta, give some a try, combine with lean protein and vegetables or salad for a balanced meal.

MILLET - I have a confession to make.  Only once have I knowingly eaten millet.  Well, millet flour, when I was trialling some gluten-free muffin recipes.  This sounds very hypocritical, to incude millet on this list but not really eat it myself!  I am one of the many fortunate people who does not have a problem digesting wheat and wheat products, although to be honest I don't actually eat a lot of wheat on a day-to-day basis.  I am not on the lookout for wheat subtitutes for personal use, but I acknowledge the nutrient value of millet (it is a wholegrain, contains fibre and rich in magnesium). Try millet as a side dish with savoury dishes in the place of rice, or mixed together with quinoa or rice or made into porridge for breakfast.

AMARANTH - Again, not a regular staple in my cupboard, but amaranth is a nutritious pseudo-cereal (not officially a grain, but is used in similar ways and has a similar nutrition profile to other grains).  Amaranth contains a range of minerals (such as calcium and iron), and has one of the best amino acid profiles of plant-based proteins.  In Australia amaranth is commonly seen in dry cereals, but can also be cooked and used in dishes such as porridge and soup.  In many countries it is popped and eaten like popcorn.

POPCORN - Speaking of popcorn....it won't quite do the job for recovery needs, due to its carbohydrate content being so low, you would need to eat buckets worth.  But its low carbohydrate and energy density (1 small packet of popcorn only weighs 13g, with only 6g carbohydrate and ~55 calories) makes this a terrific wholegrain snack for active people who may be trying lose weight.  A great alternative to potato crisps or other savoury snacks, which are often a popular choice when eating gluten-free.  Make sure you go for the plain varieties, not the sugar/caramel coated options.

These are just a few nutritious and convenient options to help fuel your training and recovery.  For more ideas, see Better Health Channel - Gluten-free Diet for an easy to read listing of gluten-containing and gluten-free foods.

For more information on coeliac disease and gluten go to Coeliac Australia and to learn more about fructose malabsorption and FOMAPS go to Monash University - Low FODMAP Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 

If you are a bit confused about whether or not you should be avoiding gluten and/or wheat or if you already eat gluten-free and not sure if you are quite getting the balance right, then it might be worth sitting down with an Accredited Sports Dietitian, look for someone local to you via SDA Find a Sports Dietitian

Don't forget to sign up to my newsletter by leaving your details via 'Connect' below for regular nutrition news just like this, plus practical nutrition updates and recipes.  The picture at the top of this post 'Grilled Vegetable and Quinoa Salad' is featured in this month's newsletter, so sign up now if you want the recipe!