*DISCLAIMER: I was provided with this book for free. As usual, all opinions and thoughts are my own!*
A few months ago I was contacted about reviewing a book about gluten-free sports nutrition and have been so insanely busy that I didn’t have time to read it. It’s a topic that I’m very interested in so I was eager to read it and luckily, I found the perfect time to do so - on a grotesquely long car ride from Florida. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I recieved the book but I was pleasantly surprised at all of the info the authors provided! Before we get into the nitty gritty, here is a brief description about what The Gluten-Free Edge is all about:
“Since the advent of sport, athletes have worked to gain an edge on their competition—to look, feel, and perform their best—through both training and nutrition. Today, science is increasingly showing the negative impact that gluten, a protein in wheat, barley, and rye, can have on health.
For the estimated 30 million Americans with forms of gluten intolerance, such as celiac disease, this all-too-common protein can cause gastrointestinal trouble, inflammation, muscle fatigue, and mental fog that hinder an active lifestyle and negatively impact athletic performance. The solution: a whole-foods, nutrient-dense gluten-free diet.
Others who voluntarily eat gluten-free can also discover an edge they never knew was missing: faster recovery, reduced inflammation, improved digestion, and increased athletic performance.
The Gluten-Free Edge is the first comprehensive resource that includes:
• What gluten is and how it negatively impacts health and athletic performance
• The myriad benefits of adopting a gluten-free nutrition plan
• What to eat during training, competition, and recovery
• How to deal with group meals, eating on the road, and getting “glutened”
• Insights from prominent athletes already living the gluten-free edge
• And 50 simple, high-octane recipes to fuel your performance
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with gluten intolerance or simply want to get ahead of the competition, this book is for you. Your own gluten-free edge is waiting.”
(description taken from amazon.com)
The book itself is organized really well - it provides you with plenty of information about gluten, gluten intolerance, different energy systems utilized during training, and even items like hydration and eating for training vs. competition/events that help build a basic understanding about fueling as a gluten-free athlete. I was actually surprised by the amount of info given about these concepts since most books tend to gloss over them or assume that the reader already knows that sort of information. They also feature several stories and case studies of several different types of athletes who are gluten-free either by choice or necessity and how they feel it impacts their performance. I liked reading all of the case studies and they did try to include nearly something for everyone - there was even a female powerlifter featured!
[because everyone needs a photo of their rack pull struggle face on the internet]
The Gluten-Free Edge focuses pretty heavily on endurance sports, which is what I anticipated. Even as someone who is pretty far from an endurance athlete, I found a lot of the information useful and interesting. One of the topics the authors discussed was how to deal with the social aspect of being gluten-free in a fairly gluten-dominated sport or as part of a team. I think discussing the social aspects of having a special diet are extremely important because often times, it can feel very alienating. The authors also emphasize how important it is to eat enough for fuel and recovery - something I clearly support!
[some of my favorite gluten-free fueling & recovery foods!]
It also offers a 14-day “sports detox cleanse” - now, I hate the word cleanse - however, the authors are quick to point out that this should NOT be a low-calorie, survive off juice type of cleanse. It is meant to help athletes evaluate whether or not gluten is impacting their performance and help their digestive systems heal a bit during their off season. They provide of foods to avoid which is somewhat similar to the Whole30 list - no gluten grains, processed foods, corn, sugar, milk, nightshades (I thought that was interesting!), or soy. They even offer over 50 fifty recipes at the end of the book geared towards gluten-free fueling and recovery. The best part? The authors continually stress that nutrition, especially as an athlete, is highly individual and specific. Some people may do well with certain grains, some may not - it’s all about finding what works for you and your sport.
The only criticism I have of the book is that is so heavily endurance sport focused. While they did a great job include case studies from lots of different fields, I do think it could have benefitted more from a discussion about strength athletes. Then again, I may be a bit biased :)
Bottom line, if you’re a runner, triathlete, or other endurance athlete, I HIGHLY recommend giving this a read. I recommend it even if you aren’t an endurance athlete (um, ME) because it contains a lot of useful info and brings some fresh ideas to the table!
UPDATE: So I've been offered the chance to giveaway a book to a lucky reader! To enter:
1. Leave me a comment about your favorite gluten-free fueling or recovery food!
Winner will be drawn Friday, Sept. 13th. Good luck!
THE WINNER IS LEAH! Congrats! I will be emailing you for your info soon :)