He wanted to change up his eating habits to restore his health after several hamstring and lower-back injuries. Joining Teixeria on this journey, are LPGA golfer Sarah Jane Smith and New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, who have gluten sensitivities.
The diet is typically reserved for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition controlled by avoiding gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. However, many people have adopted the diet because they believe it is a healthier way to live, and some athletes think it will improve performance.
The New York Times blog Well reported on a study of competitive Australian cyclists, who do not suffer for celiac and have no sensitivity to gluten, who were tested to measure the diet’s effect on athletic performance.
After extensive fitness and digestive tests, the athletes started on a two week journey. One week they would follow a gluten-free diet, and the other they would eat “hefty amounts of gluten.” At the end of each week they had to complete an intense time trial to test their athletic performance, and were tested for intestinal information.
“We did not find a beneficial or negative effect of a gluten-free diet for athletes who had no clinical necessity for the diet,” Dana Lis, a Ph.D. candidate who conducted the study, said.
Not only did the diet not affect performance, but there are dangers associated with following a gluten-free diet when it is not necessary. Eliminating whole-grains from the diet can lead to vitamin deficiencies according the Huffington Post.