Gluten free and getting fatigued?

If you've cut wheat and gluten from your diet but getting too tired after training, we may be able to help

Tuna and cannellini bean salad

An increasing number of people are deciding to go on a wheat- and gluten-free diet due to gastric problems, but find themselves so fatigued after training they need a rest day after every session.


First of all, what have you replaced wheat and gluten-based foods with? There may have been several foods you were eating and relying on daily for energy. It’s surprising just how many people, and athletes especially, depend upon wheat-based foods to fulfill their carbohydrate requirements, foods such as cereals, bread, crackers, pasta, couscous and muffins, to name just a few.

You may well be carb-depleted, so firstly think hard about what foods you no longer eat, the degree to which they contributed to your carb intake and what exactly you’ve replaced them with. You need to work out whether your carb intake has dropped.

Gluten-free wholefoods that would benefit you now include quinoa, wholegrain and wild rice, oats, millet, puy lentils, beans, fresh fruit, veg and oatcakes. You can find hundreds of recipes online that will help you build a healthy and effective performance diet for life.


Additionally, if you’ve been suffering with gastric problems for some time, it’s likely you’ve experienced some degree of malabsorption. Have you had any nutrient level testing done? Your iron and B12 status would be worth investigating as both rely on correct digestive function and optimum digestive health for proper absorption.

B12, for example, relies on the ‘gastric intrinsic factor’ to be transported across the intestinal lining. If the parietal cells of the stomach aren’t producing intrinsic factor, B12 can’t be absorbed and a deficiency may develop.

Fatigue is a common sign of B12 deficiency. Iron needs enough stomach acid to be absorbed and acid levels are often low in those with digestive problems. What’s more, stomach acid levels are known to diminish with age.


You may also not be getting sufficient magnesium, another nutrient that’s commonly deficient in athletes’ diets. Magnesium deficiency can impair physical performance and exercise tolerance. A number of recent studies have found that increased magnesium intake can improve sports performance in sedentary people as well as athletes.

Lastly, it may be that your body simply needs more than six hours of sleep a night to fully recover. Athletes often need more sleep than the average person and it’s a commonly neglected part of an overall training plan.

(Image: Ewelina Karbowiak)


For lots more fuelling advice and recipes head to out Nutrition section