Nutritional Support of Athletes

Introduction

Athletes as people who train intensively and competitively need to plan their nutrition according to their needs carefully. They should take into consideration not only how their nutrition plan will help them perform but also the state of their health. Some people choose to be on a gluten-free diet as they believe it can improve their lives. However, for many people eating gluten-free is necessary due to celiac disease, gluten intolerance or allergies (Harris & Meyer, 2013). This paper provides research on the aspects of a gluten-free diet and evaluates existing publications on this topic.

Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten is a protein that most people consume every day. It can be found in wheat and other grains. Some of the most popular gluten-containing products are pasta, pastries, cereals, beer and fast food. It is clear that eating completely gluten-free can be a problem, mainly because gluten can be consumed with the meals that people do not expect to find the protein in. Thankfully, there are many gluten-free alternatives for those who support a gluten-free lifestyle. According to Harris and Meyer (2013), during the last decade, the market of gluten-free products has grown 110% with around $1,3 billion items produced and sold. Recently, an increasing number of restaurants started to offer gluten-free food on their menus. Athletes, fitness professionals, and active individuals have become interested in such nutrition ideology too. To many of them, it is a way to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms and inflammation. However, it is essential to study the benefits and the downsides of a gluten-free menu before committing to it. Clearly, gluten intolerant people benefit from the diet. However, does it work the same way for everyone?

Currently, the research on the topic is insufficient to prove the benefits of a gluten-free diet to athletes (Harris & Meyer, 2013). However, it has been reported that this kind of diet can help lose weight as it prevents people from food cravings (Harris & Meyer, 2013). Moreover, many gluten-free products are energy dense, so it can be helpful for athletes to consume them before and during training to gain excess power. Just as there are positive aspects of a gluten-free diet, there are many concerns about it too. It is vital for athletes to make sure that they consume enough carbohydrates during the diet. Many gluten-free products consist of rapidly absorbed carbohydrates as opposed to high amounts of gluten contained in regular pasta and bread (Harris & Meyer, 2013). People on a gluten-free diet might consider taking food supplements to make sure they consume enough vitamins and minerals because gluten-free products are not enriched with those. Moreover, many no-gluten products are significantly more expensive than regular ones. It means that such nutrition plan demands proper calculation and planning.

In conclusion, it is important to note that many people benefit from a gluten-free diet. Those people are mostly the ones with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or allergies to wheat. However, it does not mean that a gluten-free diet is harmful to the health of others, nor it is exclusively effective. Currently, there is not enough data to prove that products containing wheat protein are destructive for people without gluten intolerance and associated diseases. It means that excluding gluten from one’s meals has no scientifically proven benefits. However, with so many people keeping to such diet, it may be useful for athletes to investigate whether it can have a real positive impact on their personal performance by including more gluten-free products in their meals.

Reference

Harris, M. M., & Meyer, N. (2013). Go gluten-free: Diets for athletes and active people. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 17(1), 22-26.

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