Gluten Free Athlete Profile-John Forberger AKA Gluten Free Triathlete

Back when I first started researching gluten free and celiac athletes online, John’s was one of the first websites I found.  John is an endurance athlete (as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t run unless I’m chased-I much prefer lifting heavy stuff) and so he provides a different perspective.

Thanks for joining us here on Gluten Free Fitness John!

A little background on John:
John Martin Forberger, age 30, New Jersey/New York City, triathlon. 1st place in several sprint triathlons in Miami and Miami Beach. Also, I’ve been fortunate enough to take 1st place numerous times a using mountain bike kitted for triathlons.

When were you diagnosed and what were the circumstances/situation that made you get tested?
Diagnosed gluten-intolerant in 1998 after 9 trips to the emergency room and 8 overnight stays in the hospital. Diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis at 19 years old.

Do you know your “trigger” and if so what was it?

Quite complicated, but for the sake of saving everyone of frightening and physically painful details… I was hospitalized without every ailment diagnosis from the hospital staff nor my gastroenterologist. Upon a friendly visit by my good friend, Simon B. Aslanian, my holistic health expert, he told me he has a good hunch I may be allergic to wheat and gluten. Sure enough, I was. Fast forward one year to 1999, I was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis by my G.I. doctor after many CAT scans and even ultrasounds.

Description of your training:

Currently I am training for the Miami Man 1/2 Ironman taking place in my old haunt, Miami. Base training, plyometrics, weight training, and light cardio is the current training program. Next month I will wean off my 2 day/week weights and kick into higher cardio. Yay!

Description of your nutritional philosophy:

My holistic health doc introduced me to the Paleolithic Diet about 9 years ago and although the limitations are a struggle in the beginning, I’ve expanded my knowledge of proper calories versus wasteful calories ten fold. Plus my energy level is extraordinary. Combine that with chronic pancreatitis and my diet contains very little fat since I have have a tough time digesting fats. People ask, “what do you eat?” Meat, fish, fruits and veggies. The more natural sugars the better and I do not eat any sugars past 6pm. A sliced banana plus gluten-free oatmeal from Glutenfreeda is my favorite  morning breakfast energy boost!

Favorite pre and post workout foods?

Pre: 1 hr before workout: protein intake up to 6oz of fish (salmon, tuna); 30 minute before I have a banana with OJ or 6oz of water mixed with 2oz of Grade A Uncle Luke’s 100% pure maple syrup

Post: Healthy N’ Fit gluten free, whey-free, dairy-free 100% egg protein (chocolate is best) then wait 15 minutes to consume 6-8oz of steak or fish and some delicious steamed broccoli or asparagus.

Favorite sports supplements if any?
L-Arginine, salmon oil capsules, L-Glutamine, 100% gluten free Beef Protein (scary right?) made by OLYMPIAN LABS INC., Healthy N’ Fit 100% egg proteins.  (Editor note-I have heard about the Beef Protein isolate but haven’t tried it myself.)

Upcoming plans/competitions/goals?
Fall plans include snatching up a new tri bike, 1/2 Ironman (my first). Running goal is to hack out 3 competitive marathons in 2011 plus an ultra-marathon.

Advice you have for other gluten free athletes?

There is no limit to what you can do. The energy from pasta, breads and even pizza plus other flour-based products can be extruded from other sources. Better sources. Being celiac or living a gluten free lifestyle isn’t a curse, it’s a badge of progressive thinking meshed with superior food knowledge plus cleaner insides. Knowing the lack of nutritional value and detrimental impact on training that a pack of Oreo’s or a greasy fatty cheesesteak can be to your body is a feather in the cap, not a barrier!

You can reach John at any of these places:,, email; add me on Google Latitude if you want!

Note: John’s site was hacked, and he is still working on getting in back up and running.  In the meanwhile, you can catch him on Twitter.  He also has a new project that he is working on at Celiac Secrets.  I admittedly know nothing about this project.  I guess it’s a secret!

Thanks John, and best wishes on your upcoming races!

Want more on a healthy gluten free lifestyle?  check out Gluten Free and Fit 101, where I’ve compiled posts that I think would be most helpful to those starting on a gluten free diet, or those who have been eating gluten free, but are ready to kick up their nutritional know how and health status to the next level.

Filed Under: celiac diseaseexerciseGluten Free Athletes


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  1. Kelly says:

    This profile made me very happy to see! After getting talked into it by a friend, I switched gears and have turned multi-sport athlete myself this year. Best to John on his Half Iron race!

  2. Maggie says:

    Hey Erin – Thanks for featuring John. I love his attitude – especially his advice for other gluten-free athletes (which can extend to advice for anyone). I think people like you, John, Shirley, etc are such good role models for the gluten-fre community. Life carries on as normal! Actually, better than normal!

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kbouldin, John Forberger. John Forberger said: Wow. I'm ecstatic 2b featured on @ErinElberson's #GF Fitness site. lil Q&A: #gluten [...]

  4. Erin says:

    Hey Maggie!
    Yup, there’s absolutely nothing we can’t do. We can be healthier, stronger, fitter, and happier than ever. It’s all about perspective and choices :)

  5. Erin says:

    Wow, you are a brave soul! Congratulations and best wishes on your multi-sport endeavors!

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