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Gluten Free Diet – Does it Enhance Athletic Performance?

The Gluten Free Athlete

More and more we are hearing about athletes going gluten and improving their performance. Most notably, tennis champion, Novak Djokovic, gives the gluten free diet great credit for being part of his success. I can personally attest to the gluten free lifestyle helping me improve my athletic endurance and strength. I recently signed up to perform a Navy Seal workout called the 5th Mountain. It is an annual event at my local Crossfit gym. This was my second year in a row to perform this workout. I am over 40 years old. Here are the details of the workout:
  • 100 burpees
  • 1 mile run
  • 100 squats
  • 1 mile run
  • 100 sit-ups
  • 1 mile run
  • 100 pushups
  • 1 mile run
  • 100 pullups
  • 1 mile run..
All while wearing a 20 pound weight vest.. My time this year was 5 minutes faster than my finishing time last year. 79 minutes 54 seconds (if you are wondering). Could I have performed so well at my age eating gluten? Absolutely not. I have been involved in sports my whole life, and I can honestly say that today I am faster, stronger, can run further, jump higher, and perform more intense workouts than I was capable of in my twenties. The difference has been my diet.

6 Ways Gluten Can Sabotage Your Exercise…

Gluten in the diet can contribute to several factors that hinder athletic performance in those with gluten sensitivity Here are the 6 most common.
  1. Gluten can cause inflammation in lung tissue contributing to breathing problems and oxygen deprivation.
  2. Gluten can cause inflammation in the muscles contributing to reduced strength and reduced energy production.
  3. Gluten can cause liver issues, thus effecting blood sugar levels and energy utilization.
  4. Gluten can cause water retention leading to weight gain.
  5. Gluten can inflame joints leading to pain during movement.
  6. Gluten can delay the healing process and prevent recovery.
The list could go on and on, but I hope you get the point. Many athletes looking into the gluten free diet are skeptical at first. This young man was no exception to the rule. Fortunately, he overcame his doubts because going gluten free for him led to remarkable changes. Prior to the diet he was losing weight (16 pounds total). The dietary change led to ability to regain weight, improved stamina, enhanced swimming, and clearing of facial acne.  

What is Your Goal?

Whether you are training for competition, fun, to gain or lose weight, or just to stay in good shape, the following articles may be of great benefit for you:

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