Gluten Free Wimbledon Athletes Excel

by Sarah on June 30, 2011 · 4 comments

Novak Djokovic and Sabine Lisiki have both been seen a recent surge in number of victories, and both are crediting their gluten-free diets.  Although you may not be familiar with their names, you surely have heard of Superbowl MVP Drew Brees who is also gluten free.  Many of you who read my blog, know Tina at Carrots n Cake, who is giving it a try since a recent health diagnosis.  Tina tweeted just yesterday:

Tina is 100% right.  The health police on the internet look for people who are ditching gluten for the weight loss benefit thanks to a few Hollywood celebs. Going gluten-free is not a performance enhancement unless you have the intolerance!

To go gluten free undiagnosed, is dangerous.  Many doctors are reluctant to test patients for this, so do a trial on your own.  If you do not suspect any allergy, again, this is not necessary.  You must know your facts.  If you are not intolerant to gluten, it really is not beneficial for your health.   The athletes mentioned above have done well in their respective sport because they were diagnosed and took the necessary steps towards getting healthy and strong.  Celebrities on the other hand have abused the gluten-free fad and glorified it as a great way to lose weight (which it is not unless you have a disease). The people Tina is talking about above are the health police on the internet who think anyone going gluten free is doing so because of the celebrity weight loss effect.  Tina and the athletes above are not.

Last month, Lisicki collapsed after losing a match at the French Open and had to be taken off on a stretcher (She also lost a huge lead)!  If it sounds dramatic, it was.  The following day she posted this on her website, “I am sad that my body let me down. Doctors recently discovered that I am intolerant to gluten — meaning I can’t eat e.g. pasta, one of my biggest energy sources.”

“My body needs to adjust to the big change and needs some time. It is good that we found out and it will only make life better in the long run.”

That was a month ago.  She just lost to Maria Sharapova in the Semi’s at Wimbledon but what a comeback from someone who had to qualify to play.  Most people are simply ranked high enough they are just invited.

There is another side of this argument that I am not going to get into, but a professional bikini team actually goes gluten free while competing.  They say it enhances performance.  I don’t buy this argument to be honest, but it is worth a look for sure.  All I know is that Michael Phelps does not eat eat gluten free.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ellie@fitforthesoul June 30, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Hi Sarah! This was such a good and informative post!~ Thanks for providing educated research as well as precaution. I understand why people would get very defensive about gluten topics, but if one is really intolerant, then they should be understood. :)


2 Leah Olson August 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I’m a little confused about where the information comes from in this blog post. You write: “To go gluten free undiagnosed, is dangerous.” Why do you say this? Can you cite a source that says eating gluten-free is unhealthy or “dangerous”? This statement seems to come out of nowhere with no evidence backing it up.

Anyway, I would have to disagree with you that going gluten-free undiagnosed is a bad idea. I went gluten-free about a year ago (undiagnosed) because I was curious how it would affect my athletic performance (I’m a long-distance runner, among other things) and my overall well-being. After going gluten-free, I’ve never felt better! Cutting out wheat and wheat derivatives was the best thing I’ve ever done for my health (and weight loss was not a consideration in this decision at all). My overall stamina has increased, I feel full of energy all the time, and cutting out gluten products means that I’m eating more protein, veggies, and fruit that keep me satisfied and full longer. Gluten products on the other hand are converted to sugar in the blood faster, therefore are used up faster, which means you’ll be hungry sooner. From what I’ve read and learned about food, I truly thing that sugar and high-carb foods are what make people gain weight, not high protein, high fat foods.

Human have been eating gluten products for a relatively short time relative to how long our species has been around. We’ve been eating gluten products for only 10,000 years, but have been eating other things for 200,000 years before that. I’m in the “evolutionary eating” school of thought, which means that going gluten-free is just fine (and is beneficial!) for everyone.

Anyway, please let me know why you think gluten-free is dangerous. Thanks!


3 Sarah August 3, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I personally do not eat a lot of gluten. Not that I care to avoid it, I just don’t eat a ton of carbs like pasta or bread. I get the nutrients from other sources like vegetables but for those who do not, going gluten free can be dangerous as many are fortified with nutrients. For someone like myself to go gluten-free it’s not dangerous because I’m informed regarding vitamins and health. But for most of the population, they hear “gluten free” and will simply change their diet without doing the research. Same goes for being a vegan though. It’s not unhealthy but if you are not educated about what you are putting in your mouth, you will inevitably lose out on important nutrients. I also added an article that shows many girls are using “gluten-free” as a means for restrictive eating. While I agree with your facts above, I think are you are giving the general population too much credit in doing their research. Perhaps this sounds harsh but having worked with many people around the states, there is a reason crash and fad diets exist. People want a quick fix.–4018/


4 Terry J. Wood January 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm

There’s nothing dangerous about not eating gluten. The Japanese eat far more rice (which is gluten free) than Western cultures, for example, and they’re perfectly healthy.

No one NEEDS to eat gluten. If you’re not gluten tolerant there’s no advantage to not eating gluten, but there’s certainly no danger in it.

If you’re worried you aren’t getting all your nutrients because you no longer eat “Wheaties” or Special K, take a vitamin pill. When they “fortify” a breakfast cereal they’re spraying on a nickel’s worth of chemicals onto it. There’s no real difference between taking a vitamin pill and eating a fortified food.


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