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Pro Cycling Team Powered By Gluten-Free Diet

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6/28/2010

 

Here at the NFCA Athletes for Awareness Blog, we love to see individuals and teams of all levels raising awareness about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. So when Men’s Journal recently published an article discussing the Garmin-Transitions men’s pro-cycling team gluten-free endurance diet - we were beyond excited!!!

Winning Without Wheat, by Vanessa Gregory is a fantastic endorsement of the gluten-free diet and showcases high profile athletes using a healthy diet to compete at the highest level!

From Winning Without Wheat:

“How a gluten-free diet powers one of the best cycling teams in the world — and how it can help you perform better and recover faster.”

“For endurance athletes, carbo-loading on pasta and bread is as much a part of their sports as spandex and heart-rate monitors. So when Dr. Allen Lim, former exercise physiologist for the Garmin-Transitions pro cyclingteam (he’s now with Lance Armstrong’s RadioShack team), and Jonathan Vaughters, Garmin’s founder andCEO, suggested the squad switch to a wheat-free diet, the riders thought they were crazy. ‘Their first reactionwas, ‘What? No! We can’t race the Tour de France without pasta,’’; recalls Vaughters. But the two men werebanking on the idea that gluten, a composite of proteins in wheat, is responsible for bloating, stiffness, andgastrointestinal distress — huge performance-hindering problems — and the theory that their riders wouldrecover better from grueling stages by avoiding wheat. Moreover, they knew that the team could get all thecarbs they needed by eating other foods.

‘I was pleasantly surprised,’ says Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Transitions’s team leader, who was the first member of the team to experiment with going wheat-free during the racing season. ‘I just had all-around betterdigestion, and digestion is the biggest thing in utilizing the energy I consume.’ Teammate Tom Danielson had asimilar experience when he started following the diet during the Tour of Missouri in 2008. ‘My performancereally improved a lot — there was definitely a correlation,’ says Danielson. ‘I think that my digestion is better,

and because of that my sleep is better and my recovery is better.’

The riders’ results aren’t surprising given the fact that humans are ill-equipped to digest wheat. Besides peoplewho suffer from wheat allergies and celiac disease — an autoimmune condition triggered by exposure to glutenthat affects about one in 133 Americans, causing everything from diarrhea to fatigue — doctors and

nutritionists frequently see patients who simply feel healthier and more energetic when they’re eating wheat-free. That’s because, unlike cows, we lack the enzymes in our saliva and stomach to fully break down andabsorb gluten for nutritional use, so parts of the protein just get smashed up before exiting to the small bowel inlarge pieces. More than 50 different types of those fragments have been shown to cause adverse reactions,according to Dr. Michelle Pietzak, a celiac expert at the University of Southern California. ‘So depending onyour genetic makeup, you can have an allergy, you can have celiac disease, or it could be that you’re just notdigesting it well,’ Pietzak says. And if smooth digestion seems minor compared with strength and VO2 max,think again. ‘It’s a huge deal,’ says Lim. ‘It might be the hugest deal.’”

You can read the entire Winning Without Wheat article on the Men's Journal website: http://www.mensjournal.com/winning-without-wheat

 

 




 
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