Gluten-free Bodybuilding?

By: 
Frank Hoffmann

Is it possible to be a successful bodybuilder on a gluten-free diet? Just ask Big Ben Pakulski, he’ll tell you the answer.

All we’re hearing about these days is how bad gluten is for you. You can’t take a trip through your local grocery store without coming across a dedicated gluten-free section riddled with overpriced products that are nearly double in price of its poisonous counterparts. So what is the deal with gluten? Is it really as bad as they say or is this just another diet fad engineered by marketing geniuses to cash in on societies gullible nature. As much as I’d like to point the finger at the capitalist fat-cats, I’m here to tell you that gluten, is in fact, extremely damaging. Now, before I answer the million dollar question, it’s important to know how gluten can be so detrimental to the human body.

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, barley and processed foods. It’s this protein that gives breads, pastas and baked goods that great tasting, doughy texture – in short, it’s natures glue. For those of you who have Celiac disease or a Candida infection, you already know that your body is unable to process gluten and the symptoms that are triggered by consuming gluten can be quite serious. I’m here to talk to the estimated one in six people who are non-Celiac gluten intolerant, and may not even know it. Symptoms for individuals with gluten sensitivity can range anywhere from bad gas to degenerative organ damage. However, seeing as I am not writing a medical journal here, I’m going to switch the focus back on to bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding is a science. Everything from your diet and training regimen, physical health and the way your body is absorbing nutrients, needs to be spot on to ensure peak performance. Therein lies the issues surrounding gluten and bodybuilding. The same proteins that form the natural glue found in breads, pastas and processed foods, is the same sticky substance that clogs the walls of your intestines, preventing proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Another issue that is caused by gluten is pain and joint inflammation. Lastly, gluten causes immune distress; a sick bodybuilder is not a productive bodybuilder. Those are just three common symptoms of gluten sensitivity and, as you can clearly see, these symptoms can create some serious setbacks for bodybuilders. But what if you’re lucky enough not to be cursed with a sensitivity to gluten, should you still eliminate it from your diet? Yes! Yes you should!

Think about it. Gluten is found in breads, pastas, poor quality oats, sauces and processed/packaged foods, all of which you don’t really need. If you’re worried about your macronutrients – don’t, just be sure to up your intake of veggies and choose gluten-free starches such as brown rice, sweet potatoes and quinoa. Still not convinced? Look no further than IFBB Pro, Ben Pakulski, the sports primary advocate for gluten-free bodybuilding. BPak admits that due to his travel schedule, it is extremely difficult to completely eliminate gluten but he still manages to abide by a 95% gluten-free diet.

Hopefully that answers the question of whether it’s possible to be a successful bodybuilder on a gluten-free diet. If Big Ben Pakulski can pack on slabs of granite muscle and place second at this years Arnold Classic, I’m sure any aspiring bodybuilders out there won’t have any problems with a gluten-free diet.

You can check out Frank Hoffman's new blog at Nine2Fit.com and follow him on Twitter @Nine2Fit.