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I am going to give you a social experiment to do, go out and ask your friends that are training hard if they have taken gluten out of their diet?

Proceed to then ask them if they know what gluten free means. This experience was done on the Doctors show and it was hilarious to watch people all say they knew what gluten was but when they tried to explain it, the just could not string a sentence.

Gluten free is a trending topic right now and supermarkets are stocking more and more gluten free bread and baked delicacies for the growing market. Before you get stumped with the question, let me tell you what it means and how it could benefit your sports and training performance.

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat and bread. In wheat seed you have different layers, you have the embryo which is the center part, then you have the endosperm which is a tissue like substance that covers the embryo. You have the seed coat and then you have the outer layer.

The endosperms job is to provide nutrition in the form of starch to the embryo to help it grow into fruition. Gluten which is found inside the endosperm is made up of two proteins, gliadin and glutelin. The seeds are ground down to make flour which are used in breads, cakes and most breads and baked goods.

People that suffer from celiac disease should avoid gluten like the plague. Your immune system is your body’s natural defense system and protect it from internal attacks, just think a common cold.

If you have Celiac disease, gluten causes your immune system to react in a negative way by causing intestinal inflammation, irritation and swelling. This affect 1 on 100 people worldwide according the Celiac Disease Foundation and are more common in Caucasians and females.

There is a movement for people to adopt the lifestyle of being gluten free because of many nasty side effect gluten has on your system. Even if you don’t have Celiac Disease but somehow over the years adopted an intolerance for gluten, you could still experience symptoms of chronic fatigue, bone and join pain, inflammation, depression and anxiety, headaches, anemia, abdominal bloating and IBS to name a few.

This list is quite extensive and if you have two or more symptoms, then book yourself for a check-up.

If you do show signs of gluten intolerance, this could affect your training and performance because of the inflammation caused to the joints and muscles. As you can remember from my previous articles, when you train, your muscles are tearing on a micro level and cause a natural inflammatory response which helps the healing process.

If you are training with inflamed muscles and joints already, then this will cause additional damage to muscles and delay your recovery process.

When your muscle are inflamed, they swell and it makes to more difficult for your myofibrils to contract and extend with easy and efficiency. Think about your very last explosive training session and it had you walking like a cowboy for two days. When your muscle are sore, and you add the intensity of a match day performance, then you are probably going to injury yourself.

Now image your body constantly inflamed because of a possible gluten intolerance, it is pretty much having the same effect on your body. Recovery is the single biggest attribute to take care of when training, if you are not recovering fast enough, then you push the loads you need to get ahead.

My best advice, don’t go cold turkey unless of course you have celiac disease, then I recommend you chat to your doctor but for the sportsman wanting to try get an added performance advantage, try substituting at least 40% of your nutritional plan with gluten free products and see if it makes any difference to your performance.

Work your way up to 100% and decide for yourself. P.s Make sure you measure everything for a more validated conclusion. Let me know on twitter @SeanVStaden if going Gluten free has made any difference to your game.

Here is a Gluten Free List from the American Diabetes Association: Gluten Free Dieting:

  • White Flour

  • Whole Wheat Flour

  • Durum Wheat

  • Graham Flour

  • Triticale

  • Kamut

  • Semolina

  • Spelt

  • Wheat Germ

  • Wheat Bran

Common foods that are usually made with wheat include:

  • Pasta

  • Couscous

  • Bread

  • Flour Tortillas

  • Cookies

  • Cakes

  • Muffins

  • Pastries

  • Cereal

  • Crackers

  • Beer

  • Oats (see the section on oats below)

  • Gravy

  • Dressings

  • Sauces


You may not expect it, but the following foods can also contain gluten:

  • broth in soups and bouillon cubes

  • breadcrumbs and croutons

  • some candies

  • fried foods

  • imitation fish

  • some lunch meats and hot dogs

  • malt

  • matzo

  • modified food starch

  • seasoned chips and other seasoned snack foods

  • salad dressings

  • self-basting turkey

  • soy sauce

  • seasoned rice and pasta mixes

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