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Fischer Mcasey

Fischer Mcasey was taken with Pick 6 in the 2019 AFL National Draft and is an incredibly talented athlete with a plethora of outstanding awards and achievements on the sporting field. Fischer went onto play AFL for the Adelaide Crows where he had adopted a gluten-free diet after being influenced by his sisters diagnosis as a coeliac. We were very fortunate to sit down with Fischer and discuss his experiences with gluten-free living as he shares advice for athletes following the diet!

Can you tell us about your personal journey with adopting a gluten-free diet? What prompted you to make this change?

My sister was diagnosed with coeliac disease when I was a teenager, and so our family mostly adopted a gluten-free diet from then on, as it was easier to manage and made cross contamination less likely. I noticed that cutting out gluten made me feel better and less bloated, so it was something I tried to stick to even after I moved out of home. I found staying gluten-free in the days leading up to a game was particularly beneficial as I felt lighter on game day.

How has her condition and the need for a gluten-free lifestyle influenced your own dietary choices?

My sister Edie was diagnosed when I was in a stage of working out what food best suited me for sport performance. In a way it helped me to narrow down my choices and stick to whole foods instead of processed options. A lot of ‘junk food’ has gluten and so most of that wasn’t in our pantry, which naturally helped me to eat healthier. It changed up my pre game routine a bit as I’d usually have pasta, but we found some great gluten free pasta options which actually taste really good.

As someone who follows a gluten-free diet, how did it impact your overall athletic performance?

I would say overall it had a positive effect. As I said before it can help you to eat a lot cleaner, and cutting out things like bread and pasta, which are usually seen as primary carb sources for athletes, actually made me feel better. There are so many great carb sources compared to those two, and sticking to things like rice, sweet potato and fruit gave me more than enough fuel to perform, while helping to keep my body composition in check.

Are there any particular challenges you've encountered as a gluten-free athlete in terms of finding suitable and satisfying food options?

Scenarios like interstate games staying at a hotel where you aren’t able to cook were challenging. When you’re gluten free you have your specific GF snacks, pasta alternatives etc. that you enjoy, and others that aren’t too tasty to say the least. Often when you don’t have the choice of the brand, you can be left with some poor options that don’t taste great and aren’t too nutritious. That’s not to complain about it, I’m very grateful it was able to be accommodated. I’d also say that at times I wasn’t as proactive as I could have been in communicating to the dieticians about brands and options that I enjoy. People don’t know if you don’t communicate, and so don’t be afraid to take an active role in the process, as it makes it easier for everyone.

Can you share any specific gluten-free meals or snacks that you find particularly beneficial and enjoyable for fuelling your training and competition?

I kept it very simple before games and training. My go to night before game meal became grilled lemongrass chicken with rice and vegetable, and I’d always have some coconut water too for hydration. My pre game meal (3 hours before) was very similar, grilled chicken thighs with rice, avo and cucumber with my trusty coconut water. The closer to the game, the less ingredients I’d put in each meal. I’d snack on dates one hour or so before the game, which a lot of the boys found strange but I enjoyed it!

Have you found any particular gluten free products that you would recommend to other athletes? 

For those who want a GF bread equivalent, GF Precinct is a great brand. The Buckwheat and Chia loaf is my go to for toast. For Pasta, either Barilla or San Remo are pretty good.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Good luck to all the GFers out there

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