Many people are unaware of the extreme benefits of building muscle and therefor exclude strength training from their fitness routines. Science proves the benefits of building muscle are significant for your overall health. They include, improved bone density (as we get older this is pertinent as it helps in injury prevention), improved metabolism (the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn, even at rest), improved heart health, decreased anxiety and depression symptoms, improved sleep and improved brain function. Building muscle, however, is not as simple as just doing some push-ups and squats. It includes fueling your body properly.

Contrary to some ideas you may be exposed to, carbohydrates are important, as they are our main source of energy and glucose, (necessary for a properly functioning brain). Completely eliminating carbs is not a healthy choice. When we think about carbs, many times we think about pasta, breads and whole grains, most which contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in many grains such as wheat, rye, barley and spelt. (Think of gluten like glue that binds the food together or thickens up soups and gravies.) Gluten is also kryptonite for those with gluten intolerance and Celiac disease. So what kind of gluten free options do we have? A lot actually!

There are some excellent slow burning carbohydrates that do not contain gluten in their natural state. Some of these foods include oats, beans, sweet potatoes and brown rice. Oats are a great source of energy and a complex, slow burning carbohydrate. Whole oats are fiber rich, can lower bad cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes and can help improve blood sugar control. Beans and legumes are slow burning carbohydrates and a good source of protein. Benefits include better heart heath, preventing fatty liver and controlling the appetite. It is important to note that sometimes these foods are processed on the same lines as foods containing gluten and therefor can become contaminated. Make sure to search for a certified GF label on these foods.

Alternative carbs for eating properly while trying to gain muscle include quinoa, fruits and flax. Lean proteins and healthy fats are also gluten free and safe to eat. Chicken, turkey, egg whites, lean sirloin, shrimp, salmon, tuna and cod are just a few examples of lean proteins to fill up on when training for muscle gain. Natural, organic nut butters, avocados and coconut oils are great sources of fats to include in your daily regimen.

Protein shakes a healthy and convenient option when trying to gain muscle. Finding a protein shake that is truly gluten and dairy free (made in a dedicated gluten and dairy free facility) used to be difficult. Now, there are many safe plant based protein options such as pea, cranberry, hemp and soy in a variety of flavors. Incorporating these shakes into your daily regimen can help you achieve getting the necessary nutrients for your energy expenditure.

It is also important to mention here that having Celiac disease damages the lining of the stomach which is responsible for absorbing nutrients. Many Celiacs may find they are deficient in Vitamin D3, B12, Iron and Magnesium. It is essential to eat foods high in these nutrients, especially when training as it is very taxing to the body. Building muscle, gaining mass and fitness training can hurt you rather than help you if you are not getting adequate nutrients. A professional can assist with ensuring you are getting the proper amount of macronutrients daily to sustain your energy balance. I advise beginners or the inexperienced to get help from a certified trainer and nutritionist before embarking on a strength training plan. Also, it is important to advise your doctor before starting any new workout or nutrition plans.

**I am not a Doctor. Any statements posts, opinions, recipes, or information is not intended to treat any medical condition or ailment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any kind. Should you choose to practice any of the suggestions you see on this page, seek the guidance of your physician or a qualified health care provider. Advise your Doctor before starting any new fitness or nutrition programs. Thank you.

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