Gluten free diet - Naturopathic ''Elimination'' Diet

Sep 23, 2009
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I have been following this forum for a while now but have avoided posting due to a lack of scientific knowledge pertaining to doping.

But while following this forum I have noticed many snide/belittling comments concerning JV, Allen Lim and Garmins take on dietary manipulation and how it affects performance. Specifically I am referring to the Gluten free diet and how it appears that some forum members feel it is a weak attempt at covering an illicit program and that it cannot be responsible for performance gains.

I gave a quick search of the forum to look for any citations or scientific evidence (posted by forum users) that would prove that dietary manipulations, such as gluten/allergen reduction, would not increase performance and I found no such information. As well, I saw a complete lack of intelligent discussion surrounding this form of performance manipulation. What I did see was a quick reaction that it cannot do anything, based on what appears to be a lack of information, therefore, they are doping.

I`m not posting to say that Garmin are spotless clean. I don`t know that and yes, I am quite cynical about superhuman performances.

What I am writing about, is that this ease with which we brush off established dietary manipulations (at least within the Naturopathic world) with a complete lack of knowledge does not add to the discussion on doping, performance and professional cycling. It dilutes the quality of the forum and reduces the chance to learn from these discussions.

To provide anecdotal evidence I am currently on a Naturopath prescribed elimination diet. The goal is to restrict, for three weeks, the ingestion of known allergens such as soy, wheat, corn, dairy, refined sugars etc... I am currently on the third week of the diet, just prior to reintroduction of certain foods to assess their effects on my body, and I am incredibly pleased with what has been happening.
To briefly give background, prior to the diet I ate lean meats, varied grains, lots of fresh fruit and veg, plenty of water and very little in the way of processed foods. I state this to indicate that I did not completely change the way I live and eat.

Findings so far:

- At 5ft. 9in. I weighed in prior to the diet at 152lbs. I currently sit at 146-47 lbs and have noticeably lost body fat. Previously in the season I did manage to weigh in at 147lbs but I had, at that time, a marked decrease in energy. Power output did drop.
- Daily energy levels seem to be more level (ie. no midday slump, no spikes etc..) and I find that I am FAR less gassy. Yes, I said it ... the dreaded gas has gone the way of the passenger pigeon.
- Steady State, Threshold and VO2 efforts show equal power to rides under previous diet but repeated efforts, within a single workout, ''seem'' to be easier. Quality of the repeated efforts is at least equal to previous workouts (validated by Powertap data and WKO+).
- Repeatablility of intensity within the week has seemingly improved substantially. Blocks of intensity seem easier to accomplish and recovery appears to be improved (ie. ''fresher'' feeling when starting a new days workout). My disclaimer here is that this could be a result of the time of year, cumulative fitness and other outside influences. I do recognize that and as such I will state that my information is purely anecdotal and has not been subject to scientific scrutiny.

I could go on but I guess the point I am trying to make is that for some/many individuals this type of dietary manipulation could result in considerable performance gains. My wife is currently undertaking the same elimination diet and has found the exact same results as myself. We sleep better, wake up easier, have greater energy throughout the day and have generally a more positive outlook during the day.

I guess I felt the need to post this because I wanted to provide a counter point to the incessant mockery of the ''gluten free diet''. As this is the clinic I felt we could at least discuss these forms of performance enhancement intelligently instead of slagging them out of spite/cynicism and a general lack of understanding.

Anyways, flog me if you feel it necessary but, please, make it constructive. If you have scientific evidence, anecdotal evidence etc... to the contrary then bring it up. I am very open minded to evidence to the contrary and I would enjoy more intelligent/better educated individuals sharing their perspectives.
 
Jun 29, 2009
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Thanks for a good post.

I doubt anyone on here would disagree that eating a healthy diet, whether it be gluten free or whatever, is going to contribute to increased all round health and thus performance increases on the bike. What people object to is the laughable claim by Garmin PR that such things are comparable to the benefits gained by blood doping. The benefits of increasing oxygen delivery to muscles are on a completely different stratosphere compared with the (comparatively) minor advantages of better nutrition, technology etc.
 
Jul 8, 2009
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Timma -

Great post. I'd be curious, can you tell me what you ARE eating, since so many things fit into the category of known allergens?

Regarding the Garmin issue, I think red explosions has it just about right. As a general rule, the differences you'll see from blood doping and EPO are an order of magnitude greater than those you'll see from diet changes.

That said, it is only a general rule, and there are undoubtedly certain individuals for whom diet changes can have a huge influence. Such individuals were likely competing at a far lesser level than their potential before the diet change, however, and this are very unlikely to be pro cyclists. Not impossible, but unlikely.
 
Jun 18, 2009
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+1 on a good post, and welcome to the forums. I really hope you stick around and contribute to the discussions, since you can obviously contribute without resorting to mane calling and so on.....

Regarding performance gains from a gluten-free diet. As others have stated above, the problem a lot of us are having is that there is absolutely no scientific evidence that a gluten-free diet boosts oxygen delivery. However, if a person has a food allergy to gluten, then eliminating it from the diet would likely be very beneficial. On the flip side, there have been reports that ingestion of large amounts of beetroot juice does boost oxygen delivery. So I agree that diet can affect endurance exercise, I am just not aware of any specific affect of gluten on this. If you have any info (other than Garmin's PR people), I would love to read it.

I am glad you are feeling better with your new diet. One question - did you have your food allergies tested (by an allergist) before going on this diet? If you did have food allergies, I completely understand why you are feeling better. The fact that you have less gas makes me think that you probably did test positive to something.
 
egtalbot said:
That said, it is only a general rule, and there are undoubtedly certain individuals for whom diet changes can have a huge influence. Such individuals were likely competing at a far lesser level than their potential before the diet change, however, and this are very unlikely to be pro cyclists. Not impossible, but unlikely.
Even more suspicious is that multiple riders on the same team have been helped by this magic diet. If it were just one, it might be believable that the one rider had a problem with gluten; but with three riders (CVV, BW, and TD) it stretches the limits of credibility.
 
Jul 1, 2009
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BroDeal said:
Even more suspicious is that multiple riders on the same team have been helped by this magic diet. If it were just one, it might be believable that the one rider had a problem with gluten; but with three riders (CVV, BW, and TD) it stretches the limits of credibility.
+ 1
one question: why isnt the whole sports world pursuing (wrong word?) this diet if it gives such a gain?
 
Sep 23, 2009
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No, not on par w/ EPO by any means.

But, if my threshold power is 285 watts and I originally weighed 69 kilos I would have had a power to weight of approx 4.14 watts/kg. But, as of this morning I am weighing 66.36 kilos (146lbs) which would give me a power to weight of 4.3 watts/kg. An appreciable difference for sure. I can ''feel'' it on the local climbs.
Again, not an EPO gain but, add to the weight loss/power maintenance equation that I theoretically am recovering faster/better. Indeed that is how I ''feel''.

So if I am recovering better, am better able to do hard workouts (wash, rinse, repeat), again, theoretically I should be able to increase my threshold, cp10 (whatever stat we chose) etc... at a greater rate.

And this is one simple facet to what appears to be a multi faceted plan from Garmin to get the ''doping'' benefits without doping.

Anyways, again, not claiming it will make you a world beater but to dismiss it as ''hyperbole'' and bunk (as I have seen often in these forums) is a bit misleading.
 
Sep 23, 2009
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Well, I would assume we all know the importance of a proper bike fit yet having said that it seems like proper bike fitting is some kind of ''revelation'' within the pro peloton. Specialized touted their body geometry fitting sessions for CSC like it was brand new science that no one had seen before but many bicycle shops/coaches have been doing this type of thing for years. Bike mechanics have long been in charge of the bit setup and drop and chop is typically the rule of the day while completely ignoring the body that sits on the bike. Again, generalizing here but how many junior racers have we seen contorted into impossible positions on their bike while simply thinking it is pro?

I see the gluten free diet (and other similar dietary manipulations) falling into the same type of category and isn`t tried for the same reasons. Can I explain why? No, I cannot ... pure stubborness? A refusal to try anything new and different? A lack of knowledge? All of the above?

In reference to going to an allergist prior to the elimination diet. No, I did not see an allergist but saw my naturopath. We discussed problems such as gas, mid day lows and increasing allergic reactions to outside stimulus. After this discussion she recommended cutting back on known ingested allergens such as soy, corn, dairy, wheat etc... and then gradually reintroducing them to assess which are my problem foods.
 
Jun 29, 2009
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You make very good points. However Garmin are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think they can convince anyone that you can get the same performance boost as blood doping by these methods. Nutrition, bike technology, psychological techniques, bike fit, cadence etc., even steroid use, are just tinkering round the edges compared with blood doping.

Remember that a muscle is only as good as the oxygen it gets. You can have the biggest, steroid-jacked muscle there is, but if it doesn't get sufficient oxygen then it's next to useless. One of the incredible things about EPO is that the muscles get completely saturated in oxygen, and you can get massive performance boosts and still avoid anaerobic process. The muscles just keep on going. A muscle fuelled by aerobic process doesn't break down and doesn't need to recover. It's like being on rocket fuel. This is why clean riders have absolutely no hope of competing against blood dopers.

Really, the arguments of Garmin PR are just embarrassing.
 
Sep 23, 2009
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BroDeal said:
Even more suspicious is that multiple riders on the same team have been helped by this magic diet. If it were just one, it might be believable that the one rider had a problem with gluten; but with three riders (CVV, BW, and TD) it stretches the limits of credibility.
A household of two ... my wife and I ... are both greatly benefitting from this diet. My father, a former dairy farmer and a HUGE skeptic, benefitted from this diet as did my mother. Again, I could go on but would you think it suspicious that both my wife and I have food allergies? I would argue,on anecdotal evidence, that more people than you would think are susceptible to food allergies. Especially with the prevalence of additives such as soy lecithin and cheap corn syrups.

I think alot people, cyclists and endurance athletes especially, just ''push through''. They don`t always deal with underlying/root problems and as such they never find out that they have an allergy, muscle imbalance etc.. etc.. and never work to correct it.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Cobber said:
+1 on a good post, and welcome to the forums. I really hope you stick around and contribute to the discussions, since you can obviously contribute without resorting to mane calling and so on.....

Regarding performance gains from a gluten-free diet. As others have stated above, the problem a lot of us are having is that there is absolutely no scientific evidence that a gluten-free diet boosts oxygen delivery. However, if a person has a food allergy to gluten, then eliminating it from the diet would likely be very beneficial. On the flip side, there have been reports that ingestion of large amounts of beetroot juice does boost oxygen delivery. So I agree that diet can affect endurance exercise, I am just not aware of any specific affect of gluten on this. If you have any info (other than Garmin's PR people), I would love to read it.

I am glad you are feeling better with your new diet. One question - did you have your food allergies tested (by an allergist) before going on this diet? If you did have food allergies, I completely understand why you are feeling better. The fact that you have less gas makes me think that you probably did test positive to something.
+1. Good post Timmma. Cobber brings up the points I would have raised. The diet you describe is an elimination diet to basically avoid all allergens and then reintroduce foods slowly to ascertain which food is causing an allergic reaction. The diet may have helped you lose weight, with its beneficial effects in regards to power-to-weight ratio, but most of these diets are also low in carbohydrates (because the most commonly consumed carbohydrates (pasta, etc) contain glutens). As carbohydrates are the major energy source for endurance athletes, the restriction of carbohydrates with such diets may result in an increased frequency of unwanted bonks.

The elimination of allergens from your diet would no doubt have beneficial effects, both physically and psychologically, on your cycling performance. While I believe that this type of diet would benefit those with an known allergy, not all of the Garmin team would have food allergies. In fact, I would have thought food allergies would be quite uncommon in both athletes and the general population.
 
May 13, 2009
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To be honest, I don't know much about gluten free diet and its effect on performance. However, what I do know is that pretty much any other explanation put forth for the good performance of Garmin riders is pretty much nonsense. We got: Tommy D is quarter inuit (btw. is that a good or bad thing??), Wiggins' incredible weight loss, and lately the sooper secret re-hydration skillz.

When you look at it in the context of high cadence, training rides on X mas, weighing food etc. I don't think it's a big leap of faith to put the gluten free diet in the same corner. But let's look at some of the claims.

If better diet leads to weight loss in particular loss of body fat, you will have an increased power/weight ratio and will ride better accordingly. I think anybody will agree with this line of reasoning. If you have food allergies (peanuts or whatever), you should do your best to avoid them. So far I'm fine. What I'm not fine with are the specifics.

You said that in your case, changing diet works out. Now when you write:
The goal is to restrict, for three weeks, the ingestion of known allergens such as soy, wheat, corn, dairy, refined sugars etc...
do you mean you specifically had allergic reaction to any of these? You do realize that for practically every conceivable food, you'll find someone on earth who has developed an allergy to it. So, when you write 'known allergens', that's practically everything (I, for instance, have a mild allergy for certain fruits such as apple, pear, cherry).

Allergies are highly specific. I can eat peanuts all day long without problems, but there's others who'll almost choke to death just by thinking about them. I'm highly skeptical when gluten is sold as the uber allergen without which every rider in the whole Garmin team is doing so much better. What are the chances that everybody in an essentially random group is allergic against the same foodstuff? About 0.5 to 1% of the US population has celiac disease. So, the chance of a team of, say 10, to all have that disease is 1 over 10 billion. So, that is why I don't buy the gluten=allergen angle.

Now, you can argue that bad diet in general will lead to bad performance. I agree. But is gluten part of a bad diet? The FDA has classified gluten as GRAS which means generally recognized as safe. So, what you write here:
I gave a quick search of the forum to look for any citations or scientific evidence (posted by forum users) that would prove that dietary manipulations, such as gluten/allergen reduction, would not increase performance and I found no such information.
has little relevance, in particular since you turned it on its head. If Garmin claims that a gluten-free diet is performance enhancing, in order for me to believe it, I would like to see a study saying so. Not the other way round. Anecdotal evidence does not cut it. The best would of course be a double blind study which is more or less standard for this business. Until such results exist, there's very little merit to the claims and I remain unconvinced.

ETA: shoot, I finished this just prior to lunch but forgot to press submit. It seems most of what I wrote has been brought up by others already.

ETA II: and welcome to the forum.

ETA III: let me also put up Wiki links to gluten and celiac disease.
 
Aug 13, 2009
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gluten free doesn't necessarily mean "free of gluten". Many different kinds of gluten, lots of people (especially as they age) seem to develop or have problems with wheat gluten. Rice also has gluten, the body just reacts to it differently than wheat gluten. Lots of the normal grocery stores around me have a gluten-free section, they have pastas, noodles, flours, etc. Rice flour seems to be a major ingredient in them. We have some stuff in the kitchen I could look at the labels later to see whats in them.

It may be a combination of things in the typical American diet (additives, preservatives, sugars, etc) that over time build up to a triggering level and then cause problems. People that wind up not dealing well with dairy; typically they "drank milk all their lives" but now it causes bad things to happen.
 
May 13, 2009
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A follow up.

First of all, Timmma, if you think you have celiac disease, maybe you should consider a proper diagnosis which is usually done by endoscope or antibody testing. (I'm just saying, nothing against your naturopath, but whatever she's doing it's not science-based medicine).

Second, I did find a connection between celiac disease and anemia. Here it is. Now, one should remember that in this case anaemia is considered one of the symptoms of celiac disease, probably related to malabsorption syndrome. There's no real causation given and remember, we're talking about clinical anaemia. So, what that means is (i) if you have celiac disease and (ii) anaemia is one of the symptoms and (iii) if you go over to a gluten-free diet, the anaemia might go away. It doesn't mean that everybody, irrespective of having celiac disease or not, will increase their Hb (or crit or whatever) by going over to a gluten-free diet.

At this point, I'm most inclined to believe that someone in the Garmin team is googling the term 'anaemia' or something, reads some of the links which pop up in order to either try some of the stuff out willy-nilly without much knowledge of the subject or to simply erect a screen of smoke and mirrors for journalists and gullible fans.
 
May 13, 2009
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mercycle said:
gluten free doesn't necessarily mean "free of gluten". Many different kinds of gluten, lots of people (especially as they age) seem to develop or have problems with wheat gluten. Rice also has gluten, the body just reacts to it differently than wheat gluten.
No. Read the link I've provided.
The stored proteins of maize and rice are sometimes called glutens, but their proteins differ from wheat gluten by lacking gliadin.
So, rice gluten isn't really gluten, it's sometimes (erroneously) called that way. Gluten lacking gliadin is glutenin. (try to say the last sentence fast three times in a row ;))
 
Aug 13, 2009
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potato, potahtoe, tomato, tomahtoe. I didn't see your "etaIII" until after submitting and I wasn't trying for strict scientific accuracy so didn't google as thoroughly as I should have. Besides, not everything you read on the Internet is true.

:D

No, I won't try to even say that once. The main thrust of my post was to point out that while an Italian may say that if the linguine is not made from semolina, it's not pasta, your average Joe off the street would call "linguine shaped noodles made from rice flour" pasta. This was in response to elapid's post a few back. I'm not disagreeing with his point, but just pointing out that you can get your carbs in a different manner than traditional ones.
 
May 13, 2009
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mercycle said:
potato, potahtoe, tomato, tomahtoe. I didn't see your "etaIII" until after submitting and I wasn't trying for strict scientific accuracy so didn't google as thoroughly as I should have. Besides, not everything you read on the Internet is true.

:D

No, I won't try to even say that once. The main thrust of my post was to point out that while an Italian may say that if the linguine is not made from semolina, it's not pasta, your average Joe off the street would call "linguine shaped noodles made from rice flour" pasta. This was in response to elapid's post a few back. I'm not disagreeing with his point, but just pointing out that you can get your carbs in a different manner than traditional ones.
:D:D:D :rofl: Well said.
 
Aug 13, 2009
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Looked at the boxes of "pasta like things" that are labeled gluten-free. Instead of semolina flour, they seem to be made of one or more of: rice flour, rice bran, corn flour and quinoa flour.

So no gluten, but full of glutenin.

I haven't tried them yet, but I imagine enough red gravy will cover up any lack of taste.
 
Jul 25, 2009
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Timmma said:
due to a lack of scientific knowledge pertaining to doping.
Don't let that stop you - most of us are just learning.

Timmma said:
But while following this forum I have noticed many snide/belittling comments concerning JV, Allen Lim and Garmins take on dietary manipulation and how it affects performance.....As well, I saw a complete lack of intelligent discussion surrounding this form of performance manipulation. What I did see was a quick reaction that it cannot do anything, based on what appears to be a lack of information, therefore, they are doping.....
In this particular case, much of the reaction is because of the reasons other posters have presented, but I think there is a little more to it. Lots of ignoramuses/trolls spout brilliant drivel that is just plain WRONG in defense of individual riders. So people get into the understandable habit of flaming anyone who wants to discuss some random idea, which just might be an alternate explanation for performance increases. I believe this habit ends up limiting the number of posters who want to consider random ideas.

Timmma said:
I`m not posting to say that Garmin are spotless clean. I don`t know that and yes, I am quite cynical about superhuman performances.
New poster asking for alternate ideas to be considered always seem to include a comment like this. Here's a question for anyone thinking the range of views expressed on this forum means there is no bias: Why do new posters feel the need to establish credibility by acknowledging the prevalence of doping? Why can't they just ask 'might this idea improve the performance for some riders', without expecting flames? IMHO, the forum tends to weed out people who want to consider the logical merit or potential benefits, of as yet unproven, 'therapies'......before they can learn enough to know which ideas might work, and which are obviously BS.

There are knowledgeable people working with riders and constantly trying new ideas, which they have some reason to think might give an edge. It's reasonable to expect that occasionally, one of those ideas will work, at least a little bit. I have three words for people automatically reject any idea because of a lack of clear scientific 'proof'. Untested. Unproved. Disproved. Rejecting hypotheses that have a reasonable logical basis, but fall into the untested or unproved category, is as unscientific as continuing to believe in disproved concepts.
 
May 13, 2009
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I Watch Cycling In July said:
New poster asking for alternate ideas to be considered always seem to include a comment like this. Here's a question for anyone thinking the range of views expressed on this forum means there is no bias: Why do new posters feel the need to establish credibility by acknowledging the prevalence of doping? Why can't they just ask 'might this idea improve the performance for some riders', without expecting flames? IMHO, the forum tends to weed out people who want to consider the logical merit or potential benefits, of as yet unproven, 'therapies'......before they can learn enough to know which ideas might work, and which are obviously BS.
I think this is a consequence of having a dedicated clinic forum. It's a mistake. People who think riders are doping have their ghetto here. That's who we are. Well, except for the occasional troll.

I agree with your last paragraph. In particular:
Rejecting hypotheses that have a reasonable logical basis, but fall into the untested or unproved category, is as unscientific as continuing to believe in disproved concepts.
Now, I think an important part here is 'reasonable logical basis'. It has to pass the initial smell test.
 
Mar 8, 2009
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BroDeal said:
Even more suspicious is that multiple riders on the same team have been helped by this magic diet. If it were just one, it might be believable that the one rider had a problem with gluten; but with three riders (CVV, BW, and TD) it stretches the limits of credibility.
BroDeal you are the untimate cynic! There is nothing magic about a Gluten Free diet. I have been a coeliac (gluten free diet) for the last 20 years and there is definately no advanatge in a Gluten Free diet particualrly for long stage races where your body can't get enough carbs in. I'm not sure what evidence exists or where the questions were raised re the link between a Gluten Free diet & doping but it sounds rediculous.

It is simply smart team management to closely monitor elite athletes diets closely when competing at the levels the Pro Tour guys do for weeks on end. Great job Garmin but I still wouldn't recommend a Gluten Free diet unless it was necessary!
 
dse1969 said:
... I have been a coeliac (gluten free diet) for the last 20 years and there is definately no advanatge in a Gluten Free diet particualrly for long stage races where your body can't get enough carbs in. I'm not sure what evidence exists or where the questions were raised re the link between a Gluten Free diet & doping but it sounds rediculous.

...
Thanks for the info. This is what we needed a counter proof from a long time user.
 
Jul 1, 2009
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red_explosions said:
You make very good points. However Garmin are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think they can convince anyone that you can get the same performance boost as blood doping by these methods. Nutrition, bike technology, psychological techniques, bike fit, cadence etc., even steroid use, are just tinkering round the edges compared with blood doping.

Remember that a muscle is only as good as the oxygen it gets. You can have the biggest, steroid-jacked muscle there is, but if it doesn't get sufficient oxygen then it's next to useless. One of the incredible things about EPO is that the muscles get completely saturated in oxygen, and you can get massive performance boosts and still avoid anaerobic process. The muscles just keep on going. A muscle fuelled by aerobic process doesn't break down and doesn't need to recover. It's like being on rocket fuel. This is why clean riders have absolutely no hope of competing against blood dopers.

Really, the arguments of Garmin PR are just embarrassing.
Totally agree.

And to OP - I dont think it is relevant to compare "ordinary people" to professionals - obviously you and I may have alot to gain through a healthy diet, while the prof. athlethe allready follows a diet, and tge change to glutenfree should not be able to give an EPO like boost.
;)
 
Aug 13, 2009
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Is it possible that a gluten free diet is lacking in the correct amounts/kinds of carbohydrates? Similar to a total vegetarian diet in that attention must be paid to proteins and amino acids, as in a chunk of lean beef has proteins and amino acids that the body needs and is complete, while a slab of tofu does not. But if you combine the tofu with some beans and other stuff you have almost everything.

I'm asking, not denigrating gluten-free or vegetarian diets. I'm an unabashed red meat eating kind of person.
 

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