Gluten Free Athletes paleo primal diet nutrition celiac sport athletics-min

Gluten Free Athletes

I was very interested to read that the top Tennis Player Novak Djokovic has a gluten-free diet – and credits it with making significant improvements to his performance. Given that gluten intolerance can manifest as aches, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, it makes a lot of sense for athletes in particular to avoid gluten. Especially as it is not possible to have a gluten deficiency – why wouldn’t you cut it out of your diet?

Gluten Free Athletes paleo primal diet nutrition celiac sport athletics-min

It turns out several of the Olympians from the London 2012 Olympics did so on a Gluten-Free diet. Initially I assumed this was due to a Coeliac diagnosis, but it appears to be becoming common knowledge that ditching the gluten can improve performance and stamina. I wonder if at the 2016 Rio Olympics we’ll see even more Athletes going Gluten free – and perhaps taking it one step further and adopting a Paleo Diet?

US Swimmer Dana Vollmer went gluten (and egg) free due to an intolerance, but apparently found it made a significant difference to her performance. She went on to win Gold (twice!) at the Olympics – I wonder how much of her win can be attributed to her diet?

Pole Vaulter Jenn Suhr went gluten-free just last year after being diagnosed with Celiac disease – and also won a gold medal…

Canadian Swimmer Nare Brannen went gluten-free on the advice of his coach last year – and has had minimal injuries, he believes, as a result.

If you’re an athlete, amateur or otherwise, I’d be very interested to hear what differences you noticed going gluten-free. Do you think there’s going to be a big increase in gluten-free (or better still Paleo) athletes by the time of the 2016 Rio Olympics? I’d love to hear your comments, below!

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10 replies
  1. Deborah Gordon
    Deborah Gordon says:

    I’m a rower at the Masters’ level, working out with a competitive team three times a week and getting in a bit more if I can.

    In many ways it’s hard to tell the difference between low carb (rare grains) and grain and gluten free, but there are two big differences. Going low carb meant I am less likely to run out of fuel in the midst of a workout or a race. Going off gluten cured that nasty itchy rash that I thought was from sweating in spandex. Still sweating in spandex, no rash. AND going off gluten meant I didn’t “refuel/reward” myself with toast, butter and jam with my eggs and bacon after a stiff workout.

    What I’ve noticed different since going off that gluten reward (not substituting with any grains like gluten free, so maybe it’s just grain free), is that even a really demanding morning workout doesn’t leave ME as “toast” for the rest of the day! I’ve been kind of shocked that I have the energy during the day to go for a walk, work outside, do mental work.

    I’m curious, seeing this, to do one of the higher level tests that Nora Gedgaudas describes in her book to see if there’s an allergy, but I am SO little tempted to try gluten again. Well, except for an occasional gluten containing fermented beverage that tastes so good at the end of a summer day 🙂

    Reply
    • Suz
      Suz says:

      That’s really interesting to hear Deborah – especially as rowing is more of an edurance sport than, say, sprinting. If a rower can go grain free – I think that proves any type of sports person can.

      Reply
  2. Eliot Reeves
    Eliot Reeves says:

    Since eating in a more primal way – and without any extra training – I can (somehow) run a kilometre on average 20s faster!

    It’s awesome.

    Reply
  3. Maria
    Maria says:

    I’m new to the Paleo diet and have a few questions about the diet before I go ahead and try it. Rice has been a staple ingredient in Asian cultures for thousands of years. I think? And corn has been a staple ingredient in cooking for thousands of years in Latin America where Mayans, Aztecs and Incas used it for everything. Beans too were a staple ingredient for a lot of their cooking. And they too were free from modern diseases linked to the SAD diet. Why cut them out? Are they really that bad for your health? And then there’s the China Study. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it. Basically results showed that meat has an inflammatory reaction in our bodies when consumed and was linked to diseases. I’m just a little confused that’s all, with so many different diets going around nowadays.

    Reply

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