Thursday, October 31, 2013

Should we go gluten-free? Will that give me the energy I want?

Last week, there was yet another article in the WaPo Health section about the benefits of going gluten-free. Sports Illustrated had an article about gluten-free athletes a couple of years ago, touting the benefits of freeing up your body's metabolism from the breakdown of gluten in the intestine to more athletic performance work (reallocating scarce resources in the body makes sense right?).

I shoulda eaten more carbs...
To be fair, nobody is advocating carb-free diets for athletic performance. In "Endurance Sports Nutrition", Dr. Eberle points out that the science is pretty straight forward on this: you need carbs to perform and keep you going for the long haul until the body can access glycogen stores, but carbohydrates are the main thing that will keep you in the long races. You can read more about this from the publisher's website

What we are discussing is whether gluten, being a difficult protein to break down, can slow you down just a little. In a race where every step matters to the elite athlete, this would be a profound advantage: the difference between the top of the podium and just being on the podium. Yeah, it's not that big of a deal really for most people. If you had a gluten allergy, then the bloated feeling would be so uncomfortable that you wouldn't be running at all.

In the eternal source for more energy in the morning- the solution is really simple: simple sugars and protein that is. If you start your morning with a run or bike, then you'll want to judge when you last ate dinner, how long of a cardio workout you are doing, and how you are feeling. Safe bet is to have a banana, maybe some yogurt, some milk, a small amount of oatmeal or cereal. These are just suggestions- don't eat too much before exercising! You can read some more suggestions here