High Protein Gluten Free Snacks for Athletes

30 High-Protein Gluten-Free Snacks for Athletes

30 High-Protein Gluten-Free Snacks for Athletes

It can be helpful for athletes following a gluten-free diet to have ideas for high protein gluten-free snacks they can add to their sports nutrition meal plan.

Let’s take a look at what gluten is and items that may contain gluten. Then we will explore 30 high-protein gluten-free snacks for athletes.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, as well as hybrids of these grains. It helps provide structure, texture, and elasticity to food products (1). 

Gluten is heat stable. Thus, it may be added into processed foods to help the product retain moisture, enhance texture, and maintain form (1).

What is Gluten?

Gluten-Free Carbohydrate Options for Athletes

There are numerous ways athletes following a gluten-free diet can add carbohydrates to their diet.

Gluten-free carbohydrates that athletes can enjoy with their meals and snacks include:

  • Fruit
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Beans and legumes
  • Gluten-free grains
  • Dairy: Milk and yogurt

Selecting Gluten-Free Carbohydrates

Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free and a great way for athletes to add carbohydrates to their diets.

When purchasing frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables, athletes need to read the food label carefully to ensure no gluten-containing ingredients were added to the produce.

Athletes should use extra caution when purchasing produce that contains added seasonings or sauces, as well as with frozen potatoes or pre-made smoothie blends (2).

Most 100% juices are gluten-free. However, athletes should review the ingredient label closely to verify no ingredients containing gluten were added to the juice.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Gluten-Free Grains

Athletes following a gluten-free diet must avoid grains that contain gluten. However, there are a variety of other grain options that are naturally gluten-free, including (2):

  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Arrowroot
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat groats

Even when products are made with gluten-free grains, it is important for athletes to read the food label carefully. It is possible ingredients containing gluten were added to the product or that cross-contamination with gluten occurred during production (2).

Are Oats Gluten-Free?

Oats are also naturally gluten-free. However, oats are considered high-risk for cross-contamination with grains containing gluten during processing. In addition, some individuals with celiac disease may have a reaction to other components within oats that cause discomfort (3).

The Celiac Disease Foundation recommends individuals on a gluten-free diet only purchase oat products specifically labeled as being gluten-free. In addition, athletes should visit with their doctor and sports dietitian nutritionist prior to adding oats to their gluten-free diet.

Dairy: Milk and Yogurt

Milk and yogurt are also gluten-free carbohydrate options for athletes. In addition to carbohydrates, dairy products provide protein, calcium, and many are fortified with Vitamin D.

Athletes should use caution with dairy products that contain added ingredients (i.e., flavorings, granola or cookie topping for yogurt), which may contain gluten.

Adding Protein to Snacks for Athletes

Consuming adequate protein spread throughout the day with meals and snacks is important for athletes (4).

Protein provides the building blocks that athletes need to build, repair, and maintain lean muscle mass. Including protein with snacks can help athletes with meeting their overall protein needs for the day.

Athletes should also plan to include protein in their post-workout snacks and meals to support their recovery nutrition needs.

Gluten-Free Protein Options for Athletes

Similar to fresh produce; fresh meat, chicken, turkey, pork, and seafood are all naturally gluten-free.

Athletes should carefully read food labels for all processed meats (i.e., deli meat, jerky, frozen meat, sausage, reconstituted seafood, soy-based meat substitutes) to ensure no gluten-containing ingredients were used in production (1).

In addition, check all marinades, seasonings, and breading used to prepare proteins to ensure no ingredients contain gluten (1).

Adding Lean Protein to Snacks

There are a variety of ways athletes can add gluten-free lean sources of protein to their snacks.

Ideas include:

  • Low-fat milk or high-protein milk
  • Greek yogurt
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Tuna or salmon (packed in water)
  • Beef or turkey jerky
  • Shredded rotisserie chicken
  • Deli Meat: Turkey, ham, roast beef, chicken
  • Cheese: String cheese, sliced cheese, cottage cheese
  • Nuts and nut butters (check nut butters to verify no added ingredients contain gluten)
  • Edamame, beans
  • Hummus (verify prepared with gluten-free ingredients)
  • Soy milk, tofu

As a reminder, athletes should diligently check all food labels to ensure the products they are purchasing are gluten-free.

Building a High-Protein Gluten-Free Snack

For busy athletes, healthy snacks can be an excellent way to help fill nutrient gaps in their diet.

To create a balanced snack, athletes should aim to combine a food that provides a good source of carbohydrates with a food providing a lean source of protein.

In addition to carbohydrates and protein, athletes can use snacks as an opportunity to add vegetables and healthy fats to their sports nutrition meal plan.

High Protein Gluten Free Snacks for Athletes Diets

30 High-Protein Gluten-Free Snacks for Athletes

Here are 30 ways athletes can build high protein gluten free snacks that support their sports nutrition needs.

  1. Greek yogurt with berries and gluten-free granola
  2. Peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich on gluten-free bread
  3. Hard-boiled eggs with grapes
  4. Fruit smoothie – Add protein with Greek yogurt and high-protein milk
  5. Smoothie bowl* – Topped with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and spices
  6. High-protein milk and gluten-free cereal
  7. Trail mix: Build your own with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, gluten-free cereal
  8. Protein overnight oats
  9. Cottage cheese with peaches and chia seeds
  10. Tuna fish with gluten-free crackers
  11. Turkey, cheese, and avocado on a gluten free wrap
  12. Gluten-free English muffin with eggs and cheese
  13. Gluten-free bagel with almond butter
  14. Sliced cheese, ham, and almond flour crackers
  15. String cheese with gluten-free muffins
  16. Beef jerky with apple slices
  17. Turkey jerky with clementine oranges
  18. High-protein gluten-free waffles with low-fat milk
  19. Rice cakes with nut butter
  20. Roasted chickpeas* with soy milk
  21. Hummus with mini peppers and gluten-free crackers
  22. Black bean dip with gluten-free baked corn chips
  23. Gluten-free protein bar with banana
  24. Greek yogurt guacamole (recipe from Oikos®) with gluten-free baked chips
  25. Chicken and cheese quesadilla prepared on gluten-free tortillas
  26. Oatmeal protein bites* with low-fat milk
  27. High protein milk and gluten-free fig bars
  28. Edamame with rice rollers
  29. Chili on a baked sweet potato
  30. Soy yogurt with gluten-free granola minis

*Recipes shared above from fellow Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, Kathryn Piper, Amy Gorin, and Kiran Campbell.

Gluten-Free Items to Add to Snacks

Now that you have ideas for building high protein gluten free snacks, let me share some of my favorite gluten-free items. Athletes can easily add these items to healthy snacks they enjoy throughout the day.

Gluten Free Snacks for Athletes

30 High-Protein Gluten-Free Snacks for Athletes

You are now set with ideas for 30 high-protein gluten-free snacks that athletes can add to their meal plans to help support their nutrition needs.

For additional gluten-free tips for athletes, check out my blog: Gluten-Free Pre-Workout Meals and Snacks for Athletes.

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About the Author

Mandy Tyler is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine.  Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. 

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