This week our question goes to Namrita
O'Dea. A licensed dietician and member of the Topeak/Ergon racing team, O'Dea
helps riders fine tune their bodies for maximum performance through her
business 55 Nine Performance Nutrition.
Question: I always thought bread and pastas were supposed to be
the best "biker foods" now I hear about all these people doing Gluten
free diets or the Paleo diet that completely cut those sorts of food out. What
is up? Should I be looking into these or are they just a fad?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. If
you have celiac disease, even the slightest bit of gluten will trigger
abdominal cramping, diarrhea or constipation. If you also have a problem
with anemia or frequent weight loss or gain, you may want to get checked for
celiac disease or even a gluten intolerance which is more common. A
gluten-free diet will offer life-changing relief if you really do have a gluten
intolerance or celiac disease. However if you don't have one of these conditions,
going completely gluten-free can get expensive and inconvenient and may not be
any better for you than a regular diet. A gluten-free diet is free of
wheat (durum, semolina, kamut, spelt, triticale), rye, barley; and many of the
following: breading, broths, coating mixes, communion wafers, croutons,
imitation bacon, imitation seafood, marinades, pastas, processed meats, sauces,
gums, stuffing, and even soup bases. But, you may still eat oats, rice,
corn, soy, potato, tapioca, bean sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot,
amaranth and nut flours. So, as a gluten-free athlete it's still fairly
easy to take in enough carbs from any of these, plus fruits and vegetables.
paleolithic or preagricultural hunter-gatherer type diets have also made a
comeback. The premise of these diets is that our modern diets, diets of
"civilization", are implicated in many of the chronic diseases seen
today. A typical paleolithic diet consists of lean meat, fish, eggs,
fruits, vegetables and nuts while excluding cereal grains, dairy and legumes.
Research from the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine has
shown paleolithic diets to decrease blood pressure, improve glucose tolerance,
decrease insulin secretion, increase insulin sensitivity, improve total
cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides without weight loss. For athletes
wanting to transition to a paleolithic diet it takes careful planning to ensure
adequate energy and nutrient intake. Modifications and exceptions may need to
be made in order to get enough calories and carbohydrates, especially during
the race season and periods of heavy training. In addition, if you follow
a strict paleolithic diet a calcium + vitamin D supplement may be needed.