9 of the best snacks for gluten-free runners to eat during and post-run

food for gluten-free runners

If you’re looking for an article about the benefits (or lack thereof) of going gluten-free for performance or weight loss, this isn’t it, but if you have to follow a gluten-free diet, knowing how to fuel your running is important.

1 in 100 people suffer with coeliac disease, and in order to thrive and perform well, they must diligently avoid all food or products that contain gluten. Otherwise, the immune system (coeliac is also an autoimmune disease) will respond by damaging or destroying villi—the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine. The rest of the body relies on these villi to absorb nutrients from food, and when the villi are degraded or destroyed, malnutrition can set in. This malabsorption can be one of the coeliac signs that prompts many to make an appointment with their doctor.

Related: How a gluten-free diet can affect your running performance 

Luckily, for coeliac runners trying to follow a high-carb diet, rice is naturally gluten-free, as is corn, potatoes and quinoa. A healthy diet should include plain meats, eggs, nuts, fruit and vegetables, but eating on the go as a coeliac can be more complicated. Whether you’re new to gluten-free diet, or new to running, here’s the best snacks and staples to have in your cupboard:

What to eat during your run if you’re gluten free:

OTE gels, £1.50, evanscycles.com 

best food for gluten-free runners - OTE gels

Whilst some gluten-free runners will opt for baby food, or making their own sports gels, our resident coeliac found these OTE gels were best on a sensitive stomach. Whilst most gels are gluten-free, it’s a good idea to try a few brands to see which is best for you.

What to eat pre and post-run if you’re gluten free:

Nairns Gluten-Free Oatcakes, £2.09, hollandandbarrett.com

best food for gluten-free runners - nairn's oatcakes

Whilst oats themselves might be gluten-free, cross contamination with wheat products during the production process often means coeliacs cannot tolerate normal oats in their diet. This rules out a few key runner staples, including Clif bars and the SIS Energy bars.

These Nairns oatcakes might not be as flapjack-like as your standard oatcake, but they’re full of complex carbs and are easy to eat before, or after running.

Bounce ball, £2.00, runnersneed.com 

best food for gluten-free runners - bounce ball

If you are looking for a more flapjack style snack post run, the majority of bounce balls are made with brown rice, which is naturally gluten-free. They’re quite hard to eat on the move, but are normally protein-filled for a pre or post-run snack.

Ugo Thrive Gluten-Free fresh penne, £2.04, waitrose.com

best food for gluten-free runners - fresh penne

If you’ve been following a gluten-free diet for a while, the fresh pasta found in the freefrom fridge range in your local supermarket is a game changer. This fresh penne is made using rice and corn flour and is naturally high in fibre and low in fat.

Nairns Gluten-Free porridge oats, £2.39, hollandandbarrett.com 

best food for gluten-free runners - nairn's porridge oats

As explained above, most runners following a coeliac diet won’t be able to tolerate normal oats. That doesn’t mean, however, that runners should miss out on this staple breakfast. Nairn's gluten free oats are carefully farmed and expertly milled to ensure there is no cross contamination. Nairns products are made in a dedicated gluten free factory and have been approved by Coeliac UK.

Pip and Nut Peanut Butter, £6.99, hollandandbarrett.com 

best food for runners - pip and nut peanut butter

Another brilliant pre-run snack, an apple or rice cakes with peanut butter. Whilst there aren’t many peanut butters that contain gluten, it’s a good idea to order your own tub to avoid others contaminating yours with bread crumbs. We’re a big fan of this natural Pip and Nut butter.

Tribe Natural Protein Bars, £20 for pack of 16, amazon.co.uk 

best food for gluten-free runners - tribe bar

Created by three friends frustrated with synthetic and sugar-filled energy products, Tribe protein recovery bars contain 10-11g of natural plant protein along with fruit and nuts to aid your post-run recovery. Due to the different flavours, they do come with varying amounts of carbs per bar so it’s worth checking checking the label depending on what you want.

Doves Farm Gluten and Wheat Free Plain Flour, £2.65, hollandandbarret.com 

best food for gluten-free runners - dove's farm


If you fancy making your own gluten-free running snacks, Doves Farm gluten-free flour is one of the best to cook with. Alternatively, here on Runner’s World we have a number of great gluten-free recipes, like this blueberry banana bread

Warburtons Gluten Free Sourdough Cob, £3.60, ocado.com 

best food for gluten-free runners - warburtons gluten free sourdough

Whilst runners need more than carbs to fuel their runs, if you are looking for a gluten free bread to eat before your Sunday morning long run, this Warburtons loaf tops our list.