Sunday, August 3, 2014

Not Allergic To Wheat But On A Gluten Free Diet

Have a listen the next time you walk down your local supermarket aisle or listen to the water cooler chats at your training venue or post race discussions etc and you'll most definitely hear that someone is on a gluten free diet. Tennis player Novak Djokovic attributed his most successful year in 2011 (when he won 3 of the 4 slams) to his conversion to a gluten free diet and even wrote a book on it.

Gluten free, dairy free, no caffeine and no sugar?? Gino calls it the "everything cannot eat" diet (mine of course).
One of our staples- gluten free oats
A recent study confirmed this too when the results showed that 41 % of athletes (who were not allergic to wheat) follow a gluten free diet most of the time.70 % of this group were endurance athletes. Majority were recreational athletes, but about 10 % of this group were World Championship or Olympic medallists. Most started a gluten free diet because of gastrointestinal (or stomach) problems.

The study divided the non wheat allergic but gluten free athletes into 2 groups. One group ate gluten free less than 50 % of the time while the other group were gluten free more than 50 % of the time. Compared to the first group, the second reported improved exercise performance, decreased stomach distress, improved body composition and were less likely to fall sick.

This is interesting as none the athletes were allergic to wheat, indicating that they need not be on a gluten free diet. The results believe the reported results may be due to a strong placebo effect.

The researchers prefer the athletes not to self diagnose but get tested thoroughly to see if they are really allergic to wheat. The researchers also rather athletes with stomach problems seek other solutions before going gluten free as their diet may then be deficient in some aspects (possibly fiber, iron, Vitamin B and some probiotics).


Lis D, Stellingwerff T et al (2014). Exploring The Popularity, Experiences And Beliefs Surrounding Gluten-free Diets in Non-coeliac Athletes. Int J Sport Nut Ex Metab. June 5. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 24901744.

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