The media have made “gluten-free” the latest buzzword and diet trend. Adding fuel to the fire are celebrity and athlete endorsements for gluten-free products.
A common mistake people make is to automatically assume “gluten-free” means “healthy.” Gluten is what makes baked goods light and airy. In order to replicate this texture in a gluten-free product, food manufacturers use alternatives that are often nutritionally inferior to white flour, which is enriched with iron and B vitamins. In general, gluten-free packaged foods have added fat to make them taste better.
If you choose to embrace a gluten-free lifestyle, you must remove all wheat and a vast majority of carbohydrates from your diet. The reason some people lose weight and reportedly “feel better” after going gluten-free is because they’ve cut out refined carbohydrates (e.g., chips, crackers, cookies and white breads).
But you can do this without going gluten-free. Why make healthy eating hard on yourself? A gluten-free diet is an unnecessary commitment unless you have celiac disease.
A better alternative is to enjoy all the foods you love in moderation as part of a balanced lifestyle. Focus on eating real, whole foods and balancing your meals correctly. That is the diet that will benefit your athletic performance—more than choosing gluten-free bread over whole-wheat bread.