Gluten-Free, An Athlete’s Diet

The March 2010 issue of Men’s Journal Magazine included an article about the benefits of a gluten-free diet for athletes. Many blogs and testimonials claim that after switching to a gluten-free diet they were able to recover more quickly after exercise.

The article suggests a shift in traditional thinking that athletes must carbo-load, before an event. As it states in the article, athletes, especially endurance athletes, need carbs to maintain their energy over long periods of physical exertion. However, it can be difficult for our digestive systems to break down gluten, causing digestion problems that can hinder the amount of energy we have ready for use. But gluten-free doesn’t mean athletes can’t carbo-load.

Dr. Allan Lin took the Garmin-Transitions pro cycling team under his wing and had them switch from carbo-loading with pasta and bread to gluten-free carbohydrates such as quinoa, brown rice and corn. These carbs are easier to digest and thus left athletes with more energy and quicker recovery times.

However, the athletes on the team are not strict gluten-free all of the time, just before and during their respective seasons. “Believe me, I drink plenty of beer in the off-season,” said Christian Vande Velde, the team leader of Garmin-Transitions.

While this is not an option for all, especially those with celiac, it’s a clear example that even those not diagnosed with celiac may benefit from a gluten-free diet.

Now with New Planet Gluten-Free Beer as a beer option, active gluten-free people, with celiac and those without, don’t have to give up great tasting beer to evade gluten – in season or out. In fact, you have an additional beer to try in the New Year – Off Grid Pale Ale.

If you are a gluten-free athlete, whether celiac or by choice, leave a comment below about the benefits you have had by going gluten-free.

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