How to be gluten free and still get through your marathon

How to be gluten free and still get through your marathon

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When most people think of carb loading, they immediately think ‘I must eat a big bowl of pasta’. Unfortunately for the group of the population who must be gluten free, regular pasta is not an option. How can you be gluten free and still get through your marathon?


The overall impact depends on a number of factors, most importantly, how in control of food choice are they, and what access to gluten free choices do they have. In Australia, we are lucky enough to have easy access to a wide variety of products which are both naturally gluten free, and specifically made to be gluten free. See the table below, showing grams of carbohydrate in common food products:

Gluten containing

Gluten Free

Naturally gluten free alternatives

2 slices multigrain bread 23g 34.2g 4 corn thins 18.7g
2 slices white bread 31.5g 29g 1 cup cooked rice 57.6g
Wrap 13.3g 28.2g 1 cup cooked quinoa 39.4g
1 cup pasta 85.1g 91.8g 1 cup sweet potato 49.9g
1 cup noodles 79.2g 28.5g 1 banana 21.8g
Sports bars 44g 26g 100g lollies- party mix 80.8g

As you can see, there is a wide variety of gluten free options available, either naturally gluten free, or made specifically to be gluten free. Further more, most sports gels are naturally gluten free anyway.

Some gluten free products are unfortunately much lower in fibre than their gluten containing counterparts. Ensuring adequate intake of fibre on a day to day basis (not before your run of course!) will keep your bowels healthy, and you feeling more satisfied.

How to work around it

  1. Be organized. Know what you need, and ensure that it is available pre/post/during your training sessions, and on race day.
  2. Experiment with different gluten free products until you find the best ones for you, which result in optimal performance on race day.
  3. Ensure you consume adequate fibre each day.
  4. If you are travelling, make sure you know what you can access when you arrive, and train with it before you go, or alternatively, use portable foods that are packaged (such as sports bars) that you can take with you, so you know you won’t be ‘contaminated’.

Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you’d like our help in managing diet-related health issues.

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