Sunday, June 14, 2015

Gluten Free Diet May Not Boost Athletic Performance

If you're currently on a gluten free diet and miss eating bread, pizzas etc well, maybe it's time you indulge yourself.

Current research shows that there was no significant differences in athletic performance, gastrointestinal distress (GI), inflammatory markers, intestinal damage and general well being between those who ate a gluten free diet and those who did not.

This study was designed after researchers observed lots of athletes going gluten free. Their aim was to investigate if being gluten free helps athletic performance.

Researchers tracked competitive cyclists who were initially not on a gluten free diet and they were not allergic to wheat. They ate the same diet for two seven-day periods with a 10-day washout period in between. This was a double blind study, meaning both the researchers and cyclists did not know whether the cereal bars were gluten free or not.

The only difference between the two seven-day periods was that the cyclists had cereal bars with gluten. The other week they ate gluten free cereal bars. All the other food were cooked and supplied by the researchers.

The cyclists completed daily questionnaires on GI distress (after training and daily life) and overall well being. They could eat and train according to their wishes during the 10-day washout period.

They resumed the first week's diet and training with the second seven-day training but with the different bars.

The cyclists did a 45 minute steady state ride at 70 per cent maximum effort and a 15 minute all out time trial on the final day of the seven day trial. This was to investigate if a gluten free diet could reduce damage to the intestines and gut permeability. Previous research indicated so and this was to see if gluten made a difference.

Researchers did not get any changes between those who ate gluten free bars and those who did not.

The authors suggest that other than a strong placebo effect helping the cyclists feel better, the cyclists tend to eat more fruits and vegetables instead. These may all contribute to help them feel better.


Lis D, Stellingwerff T et al (2015). No Effects Of A Short-term Gluten-free Diet On Performance. Med and Sci in Sports and Ex. DOI: 10. 1249/MSS.0000000000000699.

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