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Celiac Cyclists
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Hi,

I am a 37 yr old male competitive celiac cyclist (Mountain, Road, Track and Cyclocross) from Eastern Canada.

I find that my energy levels drop considerably after 1:30 of racing and / or long rides. I hit the wall big time no matter how much carbo loading I do beforehand. Any suggestions as far as on the bike nutrition? I have been using gels and Gatorade.

I also find that my recovery is slower than other cyclists my age, level... Any suggestions?

I've just started using Vega (www.myvega.com). Still not sure how well it will work.

Thanks...

Mike

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I race dowhill/4X/Super D and do several epics with my buddies every year. I eat a lot of omega 3's to help with recovery-2 pieces of salmon a day during race season and lots of walnuts and flax. I keep my diet very simple-Buckwheat, Rice, Popcorn, Quinoa, veggies, beans, fruit, nuts, seafood, water, etc. I drink watered down oj and apple juice during rides and races to stay hydrated. During my last trip to Moab, I rode all of Porcupine Rim on my downhill bike, then still had enough energy to hit the slickrock practice loop (my bf was ready to keel over halfway through the rim ride!).

How long have you been diagnosed? This will have a big impact on your energy levels. It took me almost two years before I could go for a ride without taking 2 meal's worth of food with me. Are you anemic? This will also impact your performance and energy levels. I'm curious to hear what kinds of foods you eat. With what I'm eating now, I'm able to ride every day, plus hit the gym 4x per week, and still work around 60 hours a week.

On a side note, I broke my collarbone 4 weeks ago (riding, of course). The doctor who saw me in the ER looked at my xrays and commented that I was very lucky-I had bones lke a kid and she'd never seen a break like this in an adult. I was back at the gym within 5 days, riding XC within 2 weeks, and hit a 7 foot stepdown on a gnarly downill trail at 4 weeks. I had borderline osteoporosis at my time of diagnosis 3 years ago!

Sorry to brag, I was just pretty stoked about that B)

Good luck!

Nadia

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Hi Mike,

As far as the recovery, I would recommend eating immediately after your work outs. The faster the muscles get replenished, the quicker the recovery (I sometimes bring a few dates with me to the gym).

Have you read the book by Brenden Brazier called "Thrive"? I met him a few weeks ago....such an amazing athlete. I have also tried Vega. The like the plain/original flavor the best. I sometimes found it difficult to get down if it wasn't in a smoothie...the hemp has a gritty texture. The bars are also very good - - lots of nutrients and calories. Around here, they sell for $3.99 CAN.

Sounds like you are on the right track. Just keep experimenting until you find what makes you feel the best.

Good luck!

Heather : )

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Thanks for the info. It's really good to hear from other celiac cyclists.

I have been gluten-free since October 1st, 2002 and am very strict with my diet. I am not anemic, but my iron levels are on the lower levels of normal. I also have osteopenia and take Calcium supplements. For the last 4 years, I have been training about 350 hours per year (weights, cycling and running) with my biggest week being in the 12 hour range in the spring when I'm putting in lots of base miles. This on top of a full-time job and a family.

My recovery is alot better since being gluten-free! I was wrecked for 5 or 6 days (big headaches) after a weekend race. That is alot better now, but I still don't recover as fast as my cycling buddies. It takes me almost twice as long to fully recharge the batteries. I notice this during stage races where you race many days in a row. Is this just a part of having Celiac disease or should I expect more?

I also have a hard time maintaining energy levels during races. I hit a wall after about an hour. I can ride all day at a slower pace if I eat and drink a bit. I really have a hard time consuming solid food during a race.

I eat beef, chicken or fish once about a day as well as fruit, veggies, rice bread, pasta, cereal and nuts.

Thanks...

Mike

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Is this just a part of having Celiac disease or should I expect more?

My personal opinion, and not everyone will agree with me, is that celiacs are just as "normal" as "normal" people, sometimes even healthier, as long as we stay 110% gluten free. I say this because I went through my first race season thinking I was completely gluten free, when I was actually eating it all the time. I get terrible anxiety, brain fog, and fatigue, not to mention the GI issues, when I've eaten something wrong. I just expected to deal with this forever, until I met a fellow celiac downhiller that analyzed my diet and gave me some pointers. I started off doing a paleo diet sort of thing-eating just fish and nuts and fruits and veggies (lots of healthy fats-coconut gives me more energy than all the carbo loading in the world!). Then I started adding things back in, as tolerated, such as buckwheat and rice, and keeping a food journal to keep track of my energy levels, awareness, and how my stomach reacted. I have a very solid diet now-I take no supplements and don't feel I need any-doctor says I'm very healthy. Not to sound granola, but mother nature has given us everything we need to thrive-you just have to know where to look, and also listen to your body to know what to give it and when.

Now I don't do the endurance thing, but I do very heavy training in the summer and also coach along with racing, so energy is important, as well as recovery. Do you ever get short of breath on rides? Still have any GI problems? Blood sugar issues? These are what I noticed in my self before.....

Good luck-

Nadia

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The carb loading really messes me up so I don't do that anymore. My blood sugar spikes and then crashes and I can't recover quickly. I stick with meat, nuts and green veggies. Small amounts of these throughout the day works best for me. Salmon seems to be the best meat when I am riding and I avoid fruit because it raises my blood sugar too fast.

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Have you read the book by Brenden Brazier called "Thrive"? I met him a few weeks ago....such an amazing athlete. I have also tried Vega. The like the plain/original flavor the best. I sometimes found it difficult to get down if it wasn't in a smoothie...the hemp has a gritty texture. The bars are also very good - - lots of nutrients and calories. Around here, they sell for $3.99 CAN.

Hi Heather,

I would like to meet Brenden, but have not had that opportunity yet.

I find the meal replacement powder really evens out my energy level.

The bars are labelled gluten-free, but the ingredient list contains Organic Wheat Grass which is on most forbiddin ingredient lists that I have come across. The grass itself does not contain gluten, but the seeds do and it is forbidden because of the risk of cross contamination. I spoke to the Sequel Naturels (makers of Vega bars) customer service rep and she told me the bars were "certified" gluten-free, but could not tell me the steps that were undertaken to acheive this "certification".

Yesterday, I had the meal replacement powder and a bar and my digestive system acted up. I'm not sure if this is just part of the "cleansing" process that the company warns about (if so, it should go away) or because of ingested gluten (or just in my head).

Opinion please...

Thanks

Mike

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The carb loading really messes me up so I don't do that anymore. My blood sugar spikes and then crashes and I can't recover quickly. I stick with meat, nuts and green veggies. Small amounts of these throughout the day works best for me. Salmon seems to be the best meat when I am riding and I avoid fruit because it raises my blood sugar too fast.

I try to keep my caloric intake on the 30-30-40 (protein-fat-carbs) level because I'm somewhat sensitive to crashes and falls in blood sugar too (though nowhere what it used to be). I've heard from somewhere (runner's world or a similar publication) that buckwheat helps stabilize blood sugar levels, so I try to make that my breakfast alot. And I'll bring trail mix with lots of nuts and coconut for rides (lived off a big bag of this in Moab :P ). I'll try to find the thing on Omega 3's and recovery somewhere, but I really swear by wild salmon in the summer.

Tiffany had something on this site about whether wheatgrass is really gluten free or not a little while back-might be worth looking into if you're still symptomatic.

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Buckwheat and flaxseed are also good. They don't give me a blood sugar spike and are another good thing to eat. Flaxseed also is high in omega 3 fatty acids like salmon. I really notice a difference if I don't eat flaxseed and salmon for a while.

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Thanks for the info...

I love Salmon, but avoided eating too much because of Mercury, PCB toxicity.

Is wild salmon less toxic than farm-raised salmon? FDA suggests Salmon only twice a week. I may be getting too picky here and should just choose my poison :)

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The only thing that I have found that keeps me going is Cliff's envery shots, they are pretty much brown rice syrup flavored with something (I like the raspberry) and lots of the elctrolytes to keep me going. I just have to remember to drink a lot of water or I won't absorb it. You can make your own too if you want, I'm working on making my own energy bars because I can't eat soy or hemp...

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From what I've read wild salmon is better than farm raised because of higher levels of Omega 3's. Farm raised fish are not fed their natural diet, therefore, they are lighter in color and lower in omegas (the reason all farm raised salmon contains dye!). I'm not sure of the mercury levels though-I know lately they've said that salmon is lower in mercury than once thought, and only larger fish (shark, albacore tuna, etc) that are able to mature in wild waters should be eaten in moderation.

Flax is also good, but if you still have GI issues then it may cause problems. Hemp seed and walnuts are good too, great sources of omegas and healthy fat.

Nadia

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Hi,

I am a 37 yr old male competitive celiac cyclist (Mountain, Road, Track and Cyclocross) from Eastern Canada.

I find that my energy levels drop considerably after 1:30 of racing and / or long rides. I hit the wall big time no matter how much carbo loading I do beforehand. Any suggestions as far as on the bike nutrition? I have been using gels and Gatorade.

I also find that my recovery is slower than other cyclists my age, level... Any suggestions?

I've just started using Vega (www.myvega.com). Still not sure how well it will work.

Thanks...

Mike

Hi, I live in Norhtern New York on Vermont border and also have gluten-free problems. I road cycle and was wondering if anyone knows how to make their own energy bars. I have not found any here that are gluten-free. I also use gaterade. I'm doing a Cycle tour of Utah with Adverture Cycling in June and they are having a gluten-free menu for me. Any help or support for a fellow cyclist is appreciated. Jack

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Hi Jack,

It's good to hear that Adventure Cycling could accomodate your dietary needs. As far as energy bars, I have found a few that are gluten-free:

- Larabars are delicious (www.larabar.com)

- Envirokids makes cereal bars that I can easily purchase at my local grocery store (http://www.envirokidz.com/food)

- I also found these recently, but have not yet had the chance to try them (http://www.fuelbars.com/index.html)

Most gels are gluten-free: PowerGel, GU and Cliff Shots. I also think Hammer Gel is gluten-free, but need to check to make sure.

Hope this helps...

And ride that bike! :D

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I'm a competitive road cyclist and a competitive track cyclist and a Celiac. I was diagnosed about four years ago and I'm still learning what works best for me.

I've found that Sustained Energy from Hammer Nutrition ( http://www.e-caps.com/ ) works well but I"m not too sure about the ingredients. I asked them about if the product was gluten-free and they said it was. So I kinda went with their call and continued to use it all year last year. I found that with a shot of their Hammer Gel mixed in with the Sustained Energy... I have fuel for a few hours before I needed to eat something. I usually carried one bottle with the mix and one with just water and would take turns between the two when I would grab for a drink. When I needed to eat something I either went with a LaraBar ( http://www.larabar.com/home.html ) or a Organic Food Bar ( http://www.organicfoodbar.com/usa/usa.html ) which i like better than the LaraBar because of their carb to protein ratio.

I have a hard time eating while riding, especially during a race so I really wanted to find something that could sustain my energy levels for a while before having to eat. That's where the Susatined Energy came in handy. I never had a reaction to the mix and I know that I'm pretty sensitive to small trace amounts of Gluten. However, everyone is different and needs to find what works best for them.

Clifbar ( http://www.clifbar.com/ ) is a sponsor and I have talked with them about which products are gluten-free. The Goo is and their new Electrolyte drink is. So you have those options as well. Though the Goo you have to eat one about every twenty minutes if you're riding hard.

There's also a product called Enervitene that makes a good drink mix. And if you use their gel boost pack with the little twist cap... holy crap! It's like a shot of energy like you've never seen. Though it doesn't last longer than maybe 30-45 minutes. It's basically all sugar, but works like a charm if you need a boost of energy. I used the gel pack during a race last year. I was falling off the back of a break so I cracked the pack open and downed the whole thing. ( I think the whole pack is two servings ) Within minutes I was back to the front group and working hard to place top five in the final sprint to the line.

What I've found that works for me as well is eating a good meal before a big race or big team ride. Usually pasta and some meat, then a banana just before we head out. This keeps me going, along with a drink mix, for a bit before I need to really fuel up with a bar.

Hope the info helps out!

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I've found that Sustained Energy from Hammer Nutrition ( http://www.e-caps.com/ ) works well but I"m not too sure about the ingredients. I asked them about if the product was gluten-free and they said it was.

Hi Jinscoe,

Good to hear from other cyclists with Celiac disease.

I will certainly try the Hammer Nutrition products. I have heard a lot of good things about them.

I also have a hard time eating during a race. I force myself to take gels. I also need more than just water for any efforts longer than 1 hour. I've tried Gatorade, but I think the sugars that it contains are too simple which causes a rise in insulin levels followed by an even lower drop in blood sugar.

Do you use any supplements for post-workout recovery?

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Do you use any supplements for post-workout recovery?

I have toyed with Endurox R4 in the past and found that it definitely does what it says... a little too much for me. The muscle recovery part of the product really relaxed me. As if I had just downed a whole bottle of Nyquil. Maybe I mixed it too strong or something... I don't know. The product is definitely gluten-free though. It does have whey protein in it so if you have any kind of dairy issues, you may want to consider that. I know they sell single serving packets if you wanted to give it a try. I think to really benefit from it though you'd have to use it at least for a week. Even still... five packets is cheaper than a 30 serving bottle.

I know there are several other products out there for the recovery process. I just haven't used any of them. I normally try to eat something healthy when I get home instead. Lean meats and vegetables. I've found that this helps.

Which gels are you using? I've found the Hammer Gel to work great as it's the right kind of complex carbs we need... and no simple sugars.

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Which gels are you using?

I have been using PowerGel, Cliff Shots and GU. I find GU works best. It contains more complex sugars and gives me a more even boost instead of a quick shot followed by a crash like the Cliff Shot does.

I have also tried Endurox R4 with OK results. I did not use it regularly though. Only after hard workouts and / or races. I was looking for something that I could take immediately following a race if I could not eat a good meal right away.

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I asked my coach the same question last year because I just got tired of spending so much loot on scientific recovery drinks and gels. That stuff works okay but is also way expensive when you consider how much you go through in a month. Anyway, here's what my coach had to say...

- The post-event diet ... immediately after a race eat or drink some easily digestable carbohydrate and protien, and drink a lot of water. Yogurt / egg / banana / fruit juice smoothies can really get you back in gear for the next day. Then go for a warm down ride for at least 30 minutes if not an hour. Then on your way home grab a bite to eat somewhere that works with your diet. -

Now after talking to him further he suggested an energy bar immediately after a race. And if I had a smoothie that would be great. If not, at least the energy bar and a banana. The warm down ride was just as important, he said. And I would have to agree after two years of racing under his guidance. What I've been doing for the last year is get to the car after a race, grab a banana and some gatorade and then go for my warm down ride. Then drink lots of water in the car and grab a bite on the way home somewhere. Unless the race is close to home, then I'll just eat when I get home.

The few times I tried the smoothie option... it just didn't look right by the time I was done with my race. Nor did it smell that great. So I wouldn't suggest it unless you want to bring a cooler to keep it from spoiling.

I used the Endurox R4 for the week and experiemented with the mix. I found that using a bit more water in the mixture gives better results. Not so sluggish and relaxed later in the day and I felt way better the following day.

Thanks for the tip on the GU! I'll have to give it a try and see how it works for me.

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Thanks for the info Jinscoe.

I will definitely give them a try.

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I hope it's not too late to ask questions on this thread. I've just been diagnosed less than a week ago. I've only been cycling for about a year and a half, but would consider myself to be more than just recreational. My goal is to try time trials, road races and a crit next season. I'm pretty old to be starting racing (just turned 40) and the celiac diagnosis is definitely not helping matters. I don't know exactly which of my problems are celiac and which are aging or some other issues, but in addition to "digestion" pain/problems, in the past year I've had increasing strength problems (very unusual; I'd done regular lifting from the age of 13 through my early 30's and built muscle very, very easily), big problems with what I thought was lactic acid buildup after every single ride (had to stop at the top of the stairs at home to catch my breath and also to (what I thought) let the blood get back into my legs), memory problems (that's been an issue for a long time, actually), "bonking" very easily on the bike, high heart rate, dehydration. Of course these issues have affected my progress, but certainly not deterred me.

I guess I'd like to know how long these symptoms might take to resolve? I'm not a very patient person (a good reason to try racing!), and I don't want to lose heart that at least some of these problems are related to Celiac. I'd read 6 mos and I'd read up to 2 yrs. I ride just about 4 times a week, generally 30 miles, but often more. Any ideas as to what I can maybe expect? My boyfriend and I had just moved to MN about 4 mos ago, and many of these problems have made heat acclimation very difficult. I want to keep riding, even in the heat. If the dehydration and heart rate resolve, I think I can do that very comfortably.

But the question is; what should I realistically expect?

BTW, thanks for the topic; good to know that gatorade is gluten-free. I've only been on the diet for less than a week, but I think I'm noticing differences. I did two bottles of regular flavor Gatorade (made from the powder) and some Hammer Gel for a 30 mile ride in very hot and humid conditions today, and am having the typical upset digestion issues right now. I thought it was the Gatorade or Hammer Gel, but I see here it is not. Maybe the first few weeks there are still bad days? :angry: I know, I know...patience....

Thanks! :D

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