The ConsLack of Nutritional Value: Today's grocery store shelves are lined with an array of gluten-free products, everything from pancake mixes and bagels to crackers and cookies. The problem is the flours used to manufacture these products often result in calorie-dense, nutrient-lacking final products.
The most common wheat replacement ingredients include rice, corn, potato, cassava and soy, according to the International Journal of Food Sciences & Nutrition. The Journal of Cereal Science reports that the most common gluten-free flour made is white rice flour. All of these flours are inferior in nutrient composition to whole-wheat flour. Remember: The gluten-free stamp on food does not guarantee high nutritional value, according to Trends in Food Science & Technology.
Potential Weight Gain: Many gluten-free products are higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts due to the type of flours used. As a result, unwanted pounds can become a factor for athletes. For those opting to eat gluten-free in order to lose weight, this is a double whammy.
The Key Takeaway
Endurance athletes can benefit from gluten-free eating when the focus shifts away from glutinous packaged items and instead emphasizes high-quality, nutrient-dense whole food choices. And if you're purchasing a packaged gluten-free food product, carefully read the label. Choose whole-grain, gluten-free foods or those containing brown rice rather than white rice.
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