Eat Like an Athlete: Green Bay Goes Gluten-Free

By Bridget

Lately it seems that more and more professional athletes are going gluten-free. From Olympic swimmers to tennis legends, sports stars have found that living gluten-free gives them a competitive edge, literally helping them achieve gold.

Well, add another professional football player to the list of gluten-free athletes. It was recently revealed that Green Bay Packers running back James Starks has adopted a gluten-free diet in order to improve his game. The running back had taken a long time to recover from injuries in the past, including both shoulder and hamstring injuries that threatened to ruin his career. Starks consulted a nutritionist, who suggested that eliminating gluten from his diet could help in recovery and athletic performance. It is reported that the Green Bay star has gained weight and feels in better athletic shape than before (despite his toe turf injury from an August 9th preseason game).

While it is not confirmed in reports that Starks is actually allergic to gluten, it is evident that the diet is beneficial to many athletes in their quest to decrease fatigue, muscle stiffness, bloating, and gastrointestinal issues. Even exercise physiologist to the Garmin-Transitions pro cycling team, Dr. Allen Lim, recommended a gluten-free diet to the entire riding team, whether they had confirmed issues with gluten or not. The cyclists found that the gluten-free diet allowed for “all-around better digestion,” improving performance through better sleep and faster recovery times.

For a professional athlete, a gluten-free diet may only offer a slight edge if they don’t suffer from celiac’s disease. But if a running back can sprint faster, a cyclist pedal harder, and a swimmer glide more smoothly, why shouldn’t we all go for the gluten-free gold?

9 thoughts on “Eat Like an Athlete: Green Bay Goes Gluten-Free”

  1. Thanks for letting us know about the athletes. My 3 kiddos with celiac love hearing about GF people in the public eye. During the Olympics, we kept track of some of the GF athletes. We heard that one of the swimmers won Gold!

    Thanks for the updates!!

  2. But without being tested first, maybe the reason some of these athletes feel better after going on a gluten free diet is actually because they are Celiac and don’t know it. Knowing all the other problems that I have relating to Celiac Disease and the followup care that I have with both my Family Practice Doctor and my Gastroenterologist, I think it’s irresponsible of doctors and nutritionists to recommend the GF diet without first recommending testing for Celiac Disease.

  3. Indeed, we live in a “feel good” society and I agree with Debby that the uninformed medical and nutritional community is wreckless recommending the g-f “diet” for either people who don’t need it, or those who haven’t been properly diagnosed. Because of this, popular understanding views gluten-free as a fad diet, much like Atkins or South Beach, designed to lose weight, then go back to “normal” life. But for those of us with Celiac Disease, once popular culture moves on to the next new darling, we will still be left having to follow a strict gluten-free diet. G-F is more like a sugar-free diet for diabetics in that it is a permanent lifestyle and not a fad diet. Plus, anyone truly in the know, realizes that our g-f foods are higher in calories and fat and may actually cause one to gain weight, not lose it!

  4. Great article. Like Debby said, it’s critical to be tested for celiac before going gluten free. It’s a simple blood test. Without testing first, you’ll never know… And it’s celiac disease, not celiac’s disease. Not a big deal, but just wanted to point that out.

  5. I disagree. My son’s issues with gluten did not show up in tests and due to this my son continued to suffer for another year before he finally realized he really did have major gluten issues!

  6. But Cindy the point is, you did have your son tested, so you’re getting medical care. Yes, there are people who are gluten sensitive who will test negative, yet respond well to the GF diet, but best to test first.

  7. From what I read on the subject of gluten…ALL gluten could be blamed for the many, many health issues mankind has come to know. That includes not just wheat, rye, barley; corn, potatoes, rice, etc. can have an effect on some people. A whole food diet might be considered.
    So I have to say yes to all pediatricians testing for Celiac right off the bat, all internists testing randomly throughout an adults life as well.
    Support more research for testing for gluten sensitivity, (since there is no other test than going gluten free)
    And if an individual comes to the conclusion that they’d like to try g-free living, please encourage them to do so. They will be doing themselves a favor, and those of us with Celiac Disease a favor as well. The price of gluten free marketing just may come down!

  8. Aloha, It is getting so much better with labeling and awareness… Now if we could just get some quality products that cost and arm and a leg. GM is doing a good job with cereals . And good pizza please GOD… there is a place in NYC in Village called risstoria great pizza and risotto hat will knock your socks off and the bread sticks to die for. I live in Mn and it is hopeless just moved back from Hawaii even worst there will al the organic push there i was really disappointing

    Mahalo Kana Carlucci.

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