Coeliac Disease and Exercise

I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease last August, so am following all the necessary guidelines in order to feel better, and remain as healthy as i can; taking supplements, eating oily fish (daily) plenty of vegetables, fruit, home cooked meals by my own fair hands & drink plenty of water.

I am a reasonably active person, I run & play football to keep in shape, but what i am finding after each game of football, or after a decent run, the next day i am exhausted, such that i struggle to concentrate throughout the following day, and that evening is a write off, as i have to go to bed, because i can't keep my eyes open, feel knackered, and completetly miserable.

My question is, has anyone else had similar issues, were they able to solve them, or is it simply a case of either don't exercise, and put up with it? It's almost like all the energy i had/have is sapped out of me the next day after exercise.

Any advice, as i thrive on exercise, and it kinda keeps me sane, as i have a quite stressful job, so it's a good stress release from that,

Any help would be much appreciated,

thanks

mark

23 Replies

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  • Hi Mark, I hear you. I'm 16+months into gf diet (diagnosed Dermatitis Herpetiformis only last May but guessed what was wrong about 5 months earlier). I'm a runner and a keen cyclist and I am also finding that, after an initial boost of energy and vitality from going gf, I now find tiredness sets in, and the evening after a workout at the gym/longish run I also basically fall asleep in my chair! However, I'm not getting the knock-on symptoms you describe the next day. Are you able to replenish your protein and bring your blood-sugar levels back up to normal after a hard physical session? I have to remind myself to have some fruit and then eat a good portion of protein and maybe this helps for the next day? Just a thought! I also take quite a few supplements (Iron +vitC, zinc, vit D, vit B complex, glucosamine and chondroitin with MSM, sometimes magnesium)...maybe one of your basic levels is low? Could be worth a visit to the doc to get checked out? Hope you find a solution soon! Good luck!

  • Hi Lexy,

    I have gluten free pasta, or rice, with either chicken or something similar, i have prob 3 or so pieces of fruit a day, and cod liver oil with calcium in, multivitamins, & a Vit D supplement. I have issues with dairy produce also, which i avoid, mostly, i kind of listen to my body in that sense. I am told it's not i have a problem as such with dairy, but may be affected by it until i recover fully from having gluten in my system.

    The other thing i also seem to have is extremely itchy dry flaky skin, if i cut my hands, or i don't use copious amounts of moisturiser on them, they split and become eye watery sore, is this something you have to contend with.

    I have a feeling i am missing a trick here, and its probably about education in terms of what will help to eradicate these issues.

    but i'll take on board what you have said, and alter what i do in line with your suggestions about protein, see how that goes.

    thanks..

    mark

  • Hey Mark, it sounds like you're doing your best to do right by your body! But we all know what a fickle thing 'doing right' can be...sometimes you think you've got it cracked and then bang, something else crops up! Sorry to hear about the dry skin, it sounds a bit like psoriasis? i think it's not uncommon to have that with coeliac. Perhaps it's a sign that your body is low on some vital element, so maybe a visit to the doc might help? And re the gf diet...it's an ever-changing thing, I've found. It could be that as you're giving your body a rest from gluten it's finding it harder to deal with other things that you weren't aware were a problem? I can cope with dairy (so far), but I can't cope with coffee (sigh!) or sugar, seem not to do well with soya or millet (not sure if it's just the particular products I've used have been cross-contaminated, but I steer clear to be safe) - and I generally don't use processed gf foods (except for gf pasta, and sometimes the DS 'ciabatta style' rolls). I don't know if this is helpful to you or not. I would say by all means keep exercising, especially if it's a much-needed stress-reliever! Perhaps take the intensity down a little bit, now and again, see if that makes a difference? Good luck with your journey, and do share if you find some clues and some answers!

  • Hi Mark, I have the same problems with tiredness and cracked dry skin, (tips of of my fingers are worse), so I use Cetaphil moisturizing lotion recommended by my dermatologist, its none greasy and works well for all over the body, I suffer with acne and it doesn't seem to aggravate it like other creams do! I purchased mine online, as I couldn't find it in chemists/supermarkets etc...

    Good Luck!!!

  • It doesn't sound like you are eating nearly enough good fats (coconut oil, grass fed butter and ghee, avocado and olive oil ). And protein, free range eggs and meat and oily fish. Also bone stock. All these things will help with your energy levels and dry skin. I know it it so difficult fitting all the pieces together and it seems to me that our health issue will always be a work in progress. Wishing you speedy answers to you problem.

  • Yes Mark same here. And that goes for having a very busy day (minus exercise). It's annoying. However, these tips have worked for us so give them a whirl:

    - firstly have a chat with your GP (if you know your strict on the diet stress that) and ask for blood tests for Iron, Thyroid, Vitamin D, Calcium, B12. If any of these are low they can effect your hormones and general energy level - in Coeliacs we're often v low in these at diagnosis but often that's missed by busy Drs. Oh and watch out for being fobbed off has having Chronic fatigue sydrome. Like IBS this is a bit of a red herring and should only be used after other causes have been ruled out - lazy Drs here I am tired and can jump to that conclusion.

    - try pacing yourself - do enjoy your exercise but try and forward plan the day after and before you're doing lighter stuff so it's easier to cope with the energy surge

    - your exercise is fairly high impact have you considered mixing it up a little? i.e. one week pilates & running next week pilates & football. I know pilates sounds a bit naff and dull - it did to me too - I prefer the buzz and energy high from other activities. However, it really does work your core strength, tone your muscles and give you more control - plus it's very relaxing. If it works for the major rugby teams and Olympians I'd say give it a go. Look for someone who is REP 4 level and if you feel a bit odd going to a class start with 1-3 one to one sessions with a good instructor at home. I could barely walk the next day after my session - but from then on it was great. It worked muscles I didn't even know existed!

    - protein - are you getting enough? Have you tried adding Quinoa into your diet it's a GF seed and is high in protein - worth considering

    - are you sure there's no link to cross contamination? i.e. you're not popping for a snack with your mates after exercise and getting glutened?

    - sleep, ensure your getting between 7 - 9 hrs sleep on the days before your exercise and after - sometimes we're not aware that we're skipping hrs

    Hope that helps and keep us posted.

    PS get a referral to dermatology for the hands issue no one should suffer. There could be many causes for that. Have you been reviewed for Psoriasis or does anyone else in your family have that. Keeping them moisturised should help but start with your GP - be careful of cream steroids as they can thin the skin.

  • Hi Mark

    I can't match your level of exercise, but I must agree with Fiona about the health benefits of Pilates. It has improved my strength and flexibility and given me more stamina.

    I used to suffer with very dry skin and splitting nails. I found that after going back to a full fat diet these problems disappeared. I can tolerate butter and yoghurt, and sometimes cook with lard, which is also a good source of vitamin D.

    Good luck with sorting this out.

  • I was a firness instructor til literally a couple of weeks ago (sore point right now as awaiting a very slow neurological appointment!). I always found that eating slow release energy (i.e. bananas) before exercise and a protein shake after really helps - there are GF ones out there but high street can be a bit of a nightmare - I think last time I asked in Holland and Barrett they could only sell me one that was GF. Let me know if you need to find one as I can ask the gym for you, I know my boss said he'd seen one that did advertise it was GF. Luckily I don't have CD so it was less of a problem for me.

    Good luck, I desperately miss doing my classes so I know how important it is as a stress reliever!

  • At the risk of being controversial, are you sure it is not your job that is the underlying problem? Stress is a major zapper of energy and your body may be trying to tell you something.

    Its just an idea... as I know how hard it is to earn a decent living these days - so you may not want to consider changing jobs. Is there anything you could do to make your work life any easier? Having just finished a very stressful job myself, I kinda understand where you are coming from. There were days when I could hardly keep my eyes open at work.

    Do get yourself medically checked out as the other folks have mentioned. With any luck it will be a vitamin imbalance which can be sorted out.

    Good luck!

  • Hi Mark,

    I was diagnosed with CD 18 months ago and after 2 years of visits to the doc complaining of lethargy and general tiredness.

    I am a exercise junky too and enjoy getting out for runs and bike rides. Before I started feeling I'll I did triathlons and was training hard for these doing something most days. Now I find I can't do as much as a long run stays in my legs for much longer and recovery times seem longer.

    I do think that diet may be the main factor, it was so easy to refuel prior to going GF when there was no restrictions on what we can eat so there was probably an unconscious ability to eat more. Initially when going GF I lost more weight and was down to 9st 4lbs which was 3lbs lower than my weight over previous years.

    I have to remind myself to eat regularly and eat plenty protein as well as others mentioned, but don't forget the carbs too, after all this is the fuel you need. I would imagine if you are a healthy sort that weight isn't an issue - if so I'd suggest trying to slip in some extra food somewhere, maybe a couple of eggs scrambled with brekky, or some rice pudding after tea etc.

    I also found that rather than going out to do a 10 mile run one day then missing the next day, I did shorter runs every day and that seemed to help and then you can try increase slowly. I think there is a lot going going on in your body when you go GF so maybe it needs time to adapt.

    Don't discount the stress point though - whenI went back the doc about still feeling tired and moody, he said I was suffering from stress and depression so there is obviously a link. I am tHe sort of person who likes to run to relieve stress but I get more stressed if I miss my run because I'm late home ! Not good ! Maybe I'll try Pilates like Fiona suggests sounds like it might be good.

    Good luck in finding a solution but don't stress about it.

  • There seems to be good evidence that a diet that is too low in fat can cause depression as well as poor vitamin absorption (vits A, D, E and K). Are you getting enough omega 3 in your diet? Fat has been demonised as unhealthy for us when, in fact, it is vital to our health. I've gone back to full fat, low carb and my weight, BP and cholesterol are good.

  • How much sugar (including fruit) are you eating?

    I ask because I have turned my life back to active by avoiding most sugars and going low carb/ high fat/ high protein. My fatigue was so bad that some days I couldn't walk to the shop and back. I was already gluten free and dairy free, so carb snacks, sugary drinks and lots of fruit were quite a high part of my diet. I thought they were giving me energy boosts. In fact, they were spiking and then draining my energy.

    I'm now back to a weekly routine of run/swim/climb/run, Friday night off, and a long (16 mile) walk or kayak on a Saturday, swim and housework on Sunday. This on top of working as a Primary teacher 7:30-6 daily. So glad I've been able to turn my life back to active as I was feeling trapped in my own body before!

  • Blimey, good job you get 14 weeks holiday a year to get your breath back!

    Only joking, sounds like you've found your answer and maybe I might learn from you as we'll. I eat a lot of fruit, usually big bowl of rut salad for brekky, apple, orange and banana during the morning usually salad concoction for lunch and variety of dinners.

    I found fruit. Was easy to use to replace the foods I couldn't eat. Maybe time to cut back and see the effects. I'll take a look at your blog for some food ideas.

    Thanks for the info.

    Ian

  • More like 3 weeks hol and 10 weeks working from home Ian! I still eat a fair few bananas. The rule I try to stick to is 1/2 protein, 1/4 fat, and max 1/4 carbs with each meal, although I often go completely carb free at a meal. I have lots of chick peas, quinoa and nuts as fillers.

  • Mark, are you eating enough fats? Maybe try adding olive oil to your cooking (if you're avoiding butter). I had the same problem on a low fat diet.

  • Hi Mark

    I don't have CD but use this site as I've chosen to be gluten free because I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis - an autoimmune condition - and find I get a lot of benefit from it. I just want to second what Fiona said above about getting your thyroid checked because the way you describe how you feel after vigirous exercise is exactly what happens to me. Even after a short jog I can feel as if I'm getting a bad case of flu and I ache all over. Sometimes it will take a day or two to get over it. Hope you find an answer soon.

    Mary

  • I am 62 yrs of age and diagnosed Coeliac just before Christmas. I was also used to fuelling IOn anything, but now I can't, I find it difficult. I try to keep a supply of biscuits with me, so when I I have coffee outsidenthe home, I am ok. I have a busy job in a nursing home, and findI get very tired and can;t sleep for more than 4-5 hrs at a time. I havenow decided as from next month 18 hrs per week will be my limit. Hopefully I can relax more then and everything else will fall into place. Will keep you informed

  • If you need your carbs it seems to be a good idea to go for the slow release kind. This will help you keep your blood sugars at a stable level and hopefully stave off fatigue. Look for low glycemic index or low glycemic loading foods. Pasta is likely to be a high GI food, as are other processed carbs. Quinoa can be made into a porridge or used instead of white rice. Sweet potatoes can be baked whole or used like chips. Perhaps have a look at chick pea or buckwheat flour if you do any baking.

    All food gives us energy, I'm not sure that you need a lot of carbohydrates if you are exercising. Like sassyl I often have carb free meals, unfortunately I can't manage her activity level!

  • Thank you for the answers, there is some useful information for me to use here. I am pretty certain there is no cross contam, as i can usually tell if i have the signals being my stomach feels odd bloated, and it gets quite windy + plenty of visits to the bathroom. Which of late i don't seem to get, though there are sometimes when i have made something, and even though it is defo gluten free, i get symptoms, which probably tells me there are some products i can tollerate, and some i cannot, and through usage i should be able to narrow down particularly what i am over sensitive too, and avoid them.

    As mentioned i do eat a lot of fruit, i do have a sweet tooth though, which is no problem as such, but i am avoiding dairy too at present as some things seem to have an effect on me, so i presume it's a case of lets sort out the gluten and then see what i can deal with dairy wise.

    So i will take on some of the advice given to me, i will go see the GP, would it be worth a visit back to the dietician, to gain further advice, clues to assist in this matter? I definitely feel i am just missing something in terms of protein or carbs, or vitamins of some kind, i am keen to resolve this though because the bottom line is it is affecting my work, and i can't have that happen, my job is both important to me, and quite a crucial one i can't afford to have lapses in concentration, or brain fog, which is common with me at the moment. My work colleagues think i am taking the mick when i speak of brain fog, has anyone else had this? - though i definitely don't hide behind being coeliac..

    once again many thanks for the helpful comments and advice, anymore would be more than welcome!

    mark

  • I definitely experience brain fog, Mark. For me it is the first and longest lasting symptom of being glutened. Very debilitating and I can't find a way of making it go away, except just waiting until I wake up one morning and feel OK. Sorry I can't offer suggestions to help - only sympathy.

    I agree a visit to your GP would be a good plan.

    Good luck!

  • Hi I've experienced a similar thing but never quite got to the bottom of it. I've never been particularly sporty but was always fairly active - walked a lot, went on backpacking holidays etc. I used to cycle and play tennis. This all stopped a few years back when I was diagnosed with pernicious anaemia (chronic vitamin B12 deficiency). I'm not a diagnosed coeliac, but most of my PA symptoms eventually cleared up on going strictly gluten free.

    Now if I try and do any prolonged aerobic exercise I feel great at the time and then very wiped out and wobbly for about two days afterwards - far more than would be normal after exercise, even given I'm very out of condition. I'm fine with low-level stuff but still get after-effects with running more than a short distance. I'm trying to build up slowly, doing pilates and a bit of swimming, but it's very frustrating. I think it's some sort of malabsorption issue, but still don't know what.

    PS I used to get the brain fog all the time (forgetting words etc) and now it only happens if I'm glutened. Switching away from processed foods has definitely helped prevent that.

  • Please have a look at reactive hypoglycemia, which is quite common in coeliacs. I've since found out that it can also be caused by small intenstine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), again common in coeliacs and the cause of my brain fog/ fatigue and illness. Thankfully I'm over it after many unpleasant months.

  • Hi. I have been a CD for some years now. I think that as long as one eats lots of veg fresh chicken and meat lots of fruit one doesn't miss out on anything . I buy Genius bread which taste like real bread. Before I was diagnosed as having CD I was very anaemic felt very tired and didn't want to do much. Sticking to a gluten free diet gave me a new lease of life.

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