Are gluten-free diets a performance booster, or just an expensive fad?

Some are allergic to gluten, others avoid it by choice. Either way, gluten-free diets are increasingly popular among cyclists. But are they worth it? Rob Kemp investigates

Image of assorted gluten free options
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Going gluten-free (GF) has become a popular dietary move among cyclists of all levels. For some, suffering from an allergy or intolerance to gluten, it’s a necessity that comes with well documented and far-reaching benefits. For others, despite not being diagnosed as allergic to gluten, going gluten-free is the latest tantalising promise of a relatively simple marginal gain – one that they claim balances their digestive system, improves athletic performance and speeds up post-exercise recovery.

The most notable converts in the world of sport include world number-one tennis player Novak Djokovic. “It wasn’t a new racquet, a new workout, a new coach, or even a new serve that helped me lose weight, regain mental focus, and be the healthiest I’ve ever been – it was a new diet,” writes Djokovic in his book, Serve to Win: The 14-Day Gluten-Free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence. 

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