What do Novak Djokovic, Jenn Suhr and Dana Vollmer have in common? They are all gluten-free athletes! While some athletes have adopted a gluten-free diet for medical reasons such as being diagnosed with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, other athletes have taken to the gluten-free diet in an attempt to improve their performance and as an injury prevention strategy. For all those scratching their heads in confusion, following a gluten-free diet means eliminating wheat, rye and barley completely from your diet. Many people believe that following a gluten-free diet can enhance athletic performance by reducing gastrointestinal distress (GI). Gastrointestinal distress leads to bloating, cramps, fatigue and abdominal cramps, all of which hinder an athlete’s performance. The question on your mind must be, ‘How do these athletes fulfill their nutritional needs?’ While athletes following the gluten-free diet plan are at a greater risk of suffering from nutritional deficiencies, cautious and concerned athletes can fulfill their body’s nutrient needs by finding suitable substitutes in other gluten-free foods.
The two most important foods for athletes are those that contain carbohydrates and proteins. Carbohydrates help to boost your body with energy and fuel, and proteins are essential for building and maintaining your muscles. Both carbohydrates and proteins combine to make you a strong and powerful athlete, with high levels of endurance. Let’s take note of the following high carbohydrate, gluten-free substitutes for wheat, rye and barley: rice, millet, quinoa, corn, soy, beans, flax, buckwheat, nut flours, and uncontaminated oats. Some excellent gluten-free protein options include poultry and eggs. Other gluten-free foods include milk, cheese, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, seeds, fruits and meat. You can also opt for gluten-free gels and sports bars such as Cliff Nectar bars and organic food bars. Whether you are following a gluten-free diet out of compulsion, or whether you have voluntarily eliminated gluten from your diet, be sure to consult a dietician or nutritionist if you are uncertain about how to meet all your nutrient requirements.
Taking care of the following pointers will help you to perform at your very best on the day of the sporting event!