“In other developments, a group of Australian and Canadian exercise scientists have determined that it’s okay for cyclists to eat bread. The aversion to gluten — the major protein found in wheat, the world’s most widespread food crop — has swept the globe. Athletes, always the first group to jump on a new nutritional bandwagon, have led the way. In their attempts to improve performance, many athletes have adopted gluten-free diets.
Despite the fact that gluten is the primary source of vegetable protein for the human race, the suspicion is that all humans have a touch of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that features an inflammatory reaction to a component of gluten. Faddish weirdness notwithstanding, the vast majority of the human race has no trouble with wheat — if it did, it wouldn’t be so damn popular.
But these guys (oh, sorry: I forgot to mention that The Team in the previous paper has concluded that the term “guys” was demotivating) from Australia and Canada decided to test the hypothesis that gluten adversely affects performance. So they did the usual Exercise Science thing: they performed an underpowered, poorly designed, poorly executed study on a small group of subjects who could not possibly prove or disprove their hypothesis.
This, of course, was in no way an impediment to getting it published.”
“A range of 10-40 grams of gluten per day is considered normal gluten consumption for non-celiac patients, so it’s entirely possible that 16 grams of gluten was less than the cyclists were eating before the study. If I were going to design a study to show the effects of gluten vs. no gluten, I’d use more gluten than the lower end of the normal range.
Anyway, the cyclists ate each diet for a total of 7 days. Seven (7) whole days.
Amazingly enough, no differences were reported in the performances or lab work of either group.
Do you see the problems here? There were 13 cyclists in the study. This just isn’t enough cyclists. If you don’t have enough people in your study, small effects (the kind you would expect) don’t show up at sufficiently noticeable frequencies or levels to tell you anything useful, to allow you to see any changes, or to allow you to see the absence of any changes. Any differences in performance between the gluten-containing and the gluten-free diet would not be present in enough people at sufficient amplitude to constitute an observable difference.”