AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

If you’ve ever gone grocery shopping, dined out at a restaurant or watched the Food Network for longer than ten minutes, chances are strong you’ve seen the rising popularity of gluten-free products. The proliferation of this wheat alternative has been partially in response to the emergence of those suffering from Celiac disease—characterized by an allergic reaction to gluten—as well as for those looking to cut or cut down on the amount of wheat in their diet.  But what are the effects of going gluten-free in the athletic world?  Is gluten-free really the way to go for today’s athletes?

Celiac disease affects about one percent of Americans and the allergic reaction can cause diarrhea, bloating, constipation, loss of energy, sleepiness, anemia and vitamin deficiency.  And while Celiac disease makes up only one-percent of the population, there are many Americans who experience similar symptoms resulting from gluten sensitivity.

Exercise and athletic training is such a delicate process and so much attention and emphasis is, quite deservedly, put on an athlete’s nutrition.  Our bodies need carbohydrates to supply us energy and to fuel our protein synthesis that rebuilds our muscles.  Many of the foods we eat during our training include foods high in gluten: pasta, protein shakes, protein bars, granola or trail mixes.  So how are athletes with Celiac disease, gluten sensitivities or simply those that want to decrease their gluten expected to perform with these constraints on their diet?

Fortunately there is an upsurge of gluten-free products available for athletes and a wealth of positive advantages.  Firstly, with the growing awareness among food manufacturers and grocers, more and more common household foods are becoming available in gluten-free alternatives.  You can find many carbohydrates that are now gluten-free, utilizing rice, buckwheat, potatoes, soy, flax, oats and corn as their primary ingredient in place of wheat.  Sports drinks and bars are catching on to the gluten-free lifestyle, and many of them feature soy and rice as primary ingredients, but they aren’t as prolific as many would like.

8558 gluten frree diet Is Gluten Free Really The Way To Go For Today’s Athletes?

Img: gluten frree diet by – source

In the world of sports, every component of your body must be in-line in order to get your peak performance capabilities.  Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that many trainers and coaches are recommending gluten free diets to their athletes in an effort to quash some of gluten’s side effects: bloating, diarrhea, low energy, etc.  Check out this article on a pro cycling team that decided to switch to a gluten-free diet:  These athletes, who were very reticent about switching up their diets, found that going gluten-free actually made their digestive tracks more efficient at delivering and maintaining energy levels throughout their performance.  The athletes attributed the gluten-free diet for their superior performance, in part due to the added improvement going gluten-free gave to the athlete’s quality of sleep.

While it might take some time to get acclimated to, athletes who require a gluten-free diet are certainly going to be able to get the nutrition and energy they need without eating wheat and are absolutely going to be able to compete.  Even athletes who don’t have gluten sensitivities might want to consider switching to a gluten-free diet if only to balance their GI tracks and make their energy resources more efficient.

About the Author: Brian Forester is a health and wellness writer in the Chicago area. It is his goal to help people learn more about healthy natural foods and incorporate them into their diets. Companies like Now Foods offer healthy options to improve wellness for everyone with NOW Sports.


Leave a Reply