Your body needs carbs to fuel your workouts, so if you’re on a gluten-free diet, getting the energy you need can be tricky. Luckily, with the rise in awareness of gluten intolerance, there’s now a lot more variety, says Angela Dufour, a sports dietitian based in Halifax. Ideally, three to four hours before your walk, you should eat a substantial meal rich in complex carbs (think rice pasta or sweet potato), which will give you the slow release of the glycogen that your muscles need for exercise. But if you’re busy before your workout, grab one of these go-to gluten-free snacks about an hour before you hit the road.
1. Cereal and low-fat milk
Holly Heartz, a Fredericton-based dietitian, recommends eating a bowl of cereal made from soy or grains like rice or amaranth. Pair it with some low-fat milk and you’ll get the carbs and hydration you need for exercise in one quick hit.
2. Energy bar and a sports drink
There are lots of options for gluten-free energy bars, including Perfect Ten and The Simply Bar. Just check the label, warns Heartz, since many can be high in fat or protein, which you don’t need before working out. And chug a sports drink (such as Gatorade) with it to get some fluid and extra carbs before you start your walk.
3. An instant breakfast drink
Many meal-replacement beverages, like Carnation Instant Breakfast, are gluten-free. And they’re ideal nutrition for before a long walk. “Liquid is much easier for our bodies to digest,” says Dufour. They also deliver blood sugar-levelling energy that will last throughout your workout.
4. Juice and rice crackers
Ten rice crackers will give you a quick hit of carbs, and newer flavoured varieties are more interesting than the glossy Styrofoam discs of old. Try a lighter juice, like apple, (as opposed to, say, mango nectar), says Heartz. “Some people might find pure juice too acidic,” she says. “If so, dilute it with water.”
5. Yogourt and a glass of water
Pick a fruit yogourt — it will deliver a sugar burst without making you overfull and uncomfortable, says Dufour. Drink some water with it to make sure that you’re well-hydrated, and your body will be ready for a long hike.