Is There A Connection Between Gluten And Weight Loss
No. Theres absolutely no evidence that simply getting rid of gluten will result in weight loss. But if you eat a gluten-free diet you may make healthier food choices because youre more aware of how to read food labels.
Eating gluten-free often may cause you to eat more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean meats. These diet changes are often healthier and lower in calories.
Ditching the double cheeseburger and fries for a gluten-free meal of salad, chicken breast, and potato is choosing a meal that is much lower in calories which can lead to weight loss over time, says DiGeronimo.
You Might Still Be Eating Gluten Anyway
A recent study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at 158 food products labeled gluten-free over three years. It found that about 5 percentincluding some that were certified gluten-freedidnt meet the FDAs limit of less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The products were tested before the FDAs rule went into effect last summer. Still, that standard doesnt stipulate that manufacturers must test their products before making a gluten-free claim. Cross-contamination can occur, Levario explains. Gluten-free products may be manufactured on the same equipment used for wheat or other gluten-containing products. That can also happen when wheat is grown next to other grains. For example, oats are often grown in or near fields where wheat has been grown. As a result, wheat finds its way into the oat harvest and contaminates its subsequent products.
Theres no way to completely protect yourself, but you can call manufacturers. They should be transparent about what tests they use to determine whether a product is gluten-free, says the studys author, Tricia Thompson, M.S., R.D., founder of Gluten Free Watchdog. If they insist that its proprietary information, that should set off an alarm.
Preventing Weight Gain When You Eat Gluten
Gaining weight is an unfortunate common side effect of following a gluten-free diet. But there are ways to avoid this problem.
When a person is newly diagnosed with celiac disease, its natural to focus on food choices. What many with gluten sensitivities dont realize, however, is they also need to pay attention to the number of calories they’re consuming.
Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Diet: Whats Behind Weight Fluctuation
Prior to a diagnosis of celiac disease, many people have trouble maintaining their weight. Gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley, damages the lining of the small intestine, leading to the bodys inability to absorb essential nutrients and vitamins.
Once a person begins following a gluten-free diet, however, the digestive system heals and is able to absorb nutrients normally again. This is when weight gain can occur. The individual may have been accustomed to eating unusually large quantities of food to compensate for the damaged villi and must understand that eating such a large quantity of food with healed villi will result in weight gain, says Margaret Weiss Masiello, clinical coordinator at the Kogan Celiac Center of the Saint Barnabas Health Care System in Livingston, N.J.
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Youre Ditching Wheat An Appetite Stimulant
He says wheat is highly addictive and eating just some of it triggers appetite-stimulating compounds in your brain that demand you eat more of it.
However, when you eliminate wheat, you eliminate the stimulant telling your brain to eat more wheat.
Dr. Davis writes on his website, Wheat is addictive in the sense that it comes to dominate thoughts and behaviors if you dont have any for several hours, you start to get nervous, foggy, tremulous, and start desperately seeking out another hit of crackers, bagels, or bread, even if its the few stale three-month-old crackers at the bottom of the box.
He adds, But the high of wheat is not like the high of heroine, morphine, or Oxycontin. This opiate, while it binds to the opiate receptors of the brain, doesnt make us high. It makes us hungry.
He says that a protein inside of wheat, gliadin, is capable of causing a person to consume an excess of 440 more calories per day.
That means if youre losing weight after losing wheat, it might be because youre no longer controlled by these intense cravings for wheat, and perhaps youre consuming 440 less calories per day as a result.
You’ll Consume A Lot More Arsenic
When manufacturers remove gluten-containing ingredients like wheat, they often replace them with a gluten-free grain like rice. The problem is that rice is a major source of inorganic arsenic, a mineral found in soil, fertilizer, and water that can raise the risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer, the CDC reports. Spanish researchers found that following a gluten-free diet significantly increases the amount of arsenic that people consume. So, it’s best to mix up your diet and eat a variety of gluten-free whole grains.
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Your Digestion Might Take A Hit
More than 90 percent of Americans fall short of meeting the recommended daily amount when it comes to fiber , according to a study in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Grain-based foods account for large portion of your daily fiber intake, and choosing only gluten-free foods can limit your choices and substantially slash the amount of fiber you’re consuming.
“Fiber feeds our microbiome,” Dr. Fasano says. Intestinal bacteria feast on fiber and produce a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. “Butyrate keeps the intestines healthy and functional, so when there’s not enough of it, you’re more susceptible to developing inflammation in the gut, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach cramping, and more,” Dr. Fasano says. So if you’re going gluten-free, be sure to load up on beans, legumes, vegetables, brown rice, and quinoa, which are all good gluten-free fiber sources.
May Relieve Digestive Symptoms
Most people try a gluten-free diet to treat digestive problems.
These include bloating, diarrhea or constipation, gas, fatigue and many other symptoms.
Studies have shown that following a gluten-free diet can help ease digestive symptoms for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (
Focus on eating plenty of whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, veggies and lean proteins.
A gluten-free diet can provide many health benefits, especially for those with celiac disease. It may help ease digestive symptoms, reduce chronic inflammation, boost energy and promote weight loss.
Despite having a variety of health benefits, a gluten-free diet can have some downsides.
Here are a few negative effects of a gluten-free diet:
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How Gluten Causes Trouble
People with celiac disease cant tolerate gluten, not even small amounts. Just 50 milligrams of the proteinabout the amount in one small croutonis enough to cause trouble. In people with celiac disease, gluten in the bloodstream triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine. This can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food, cause a host of symptoms, and lead to other problems like osteoporosis, infertility, nerve damage, and seizures.
A related condition called gluten sensitivity or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can generate symptoms similar to celiac disease but without the intestinal damage.
Not long ago, celiac disease was diagnosed by a process of elimination. Today it can be identified with a blood test for the presence of antibodies against a protein called tissue transglutaminase. A biopsy of the intestine confirms the diagnosis.
A Dietitian Explains Why Going Gluten
Going gluten-free is trendy, feels healthy, and is definitely something to consider for those of us with intolerances and sensitivities. It involves cutting products with wheat, rye, barley, and other gluten-filled ingredients out of your diet, and people who’ve done it tout benefits such as weight loss, higher energy, and just feeling better. It’s persuasive, but maybe worth a second look.
“Gluten has been completely vilified in the past decade,” registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick of the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute told POPSUGAR. Shows, books, blogs, and celebrities including Gwenyth Paltrow and Miley Cyrus have hopped on the trend, for intolerance reasons and more, and spread it far and wide. But Kristin told us that “for someone not sensitive to gluten” that is, if you don’t have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity it’s probably just fine.
This is especially true when it comes to weight loss. People transitioning to a gluten-free diet may well lose some weight, Kristin noted, but research has shown “that this usually has nothing to do with the gluten content.” Most gluten-free weight loss actually comes from separate dietary improvements, like higher intake of fruits, veggies, and fiber that come along as positive side-effects.
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You Could Feel Lonely
Restrictive diets can lead to people feeling socially isolated, says Rumsey. They may be worried about finding food they can or cant eat, and get so preoccupied that they dont like the thought of someone else preparing their meals. That can cause you to cut back on social occasions where food is involved. Find out the 21 health secrets your gut is trying to tell you.
Risks To A Gluten Free Diet
One reason that a gluten-free diet can be a bad idea is that itâs harder to eat a balanced diet without gluten. Studies show that people who have celiac disease and follow a gluten-free diet have a hard time getting enough whole grains in their diet. Only about 1% of people were eating the recommended amount of grains, and 80% of people were eating less than half the recommended amount.
A restrictive nutrient diet should not be your first choice for losing weight. For people with celiac disease, this diet is mandatory in order to improve quality of life and avoid long-term health issues. For people without celiac disease, a restrictive diet is unnecessary stress on their health. It can also be costly! Manufactured gluten-free foods are notoriously more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts.
Some risks of a gluten-free diet also include:
These risks of a gluten-free diet are of course acceptable for those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. These risks pose a challenge that they will have to work to overcome, but itâs preferable to living with constant digestive issues and pain, and for celiac disease is a necessary choice. As someone with celiac disease, the gluten-free diet is the only medical treatment for celiac disease currently.
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Eat Less Processed Foods
Another reason the whole food approach works so well is because many whole foods are naturally gluten free! However, when it comes to “gluten-free substitutes” or more processed options, it’s important to take note that just because something is gluten-free does not mean that it is healthy.
Many gluten-free products use rice flour, coconut flour, or almond flour as the substitute that allows that product to become gluten-free. However, just because the cupcake does not contain gluten, does not mean that the product isn’t high in calories, fat and added sugar. Pay attention to whether or not these foods offer any nutritional benefits – like protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Making something gluten free also doesn’t mean it is lower in calories. In fact, sometimes it ends up containing more calories than the gluten containing version of the food.
For Example: A Gluten Free Cupcake from Sprinkles = 497 caloriesA Vanilla Cupcake with Frosting from Sprinkles= 485 calories
Understanding this principle is extremely important when triggering weight loss while following a gluten-free diet, because it brings us to our next point: calories in versus calories out.
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Eighteen months ago, Ahmed Yearwood decided to go gluten-free. A few years earlier, Id given up processed foods and felt great, the 41-year-old business owner recalls. I figured cutting out gluten would make me feel even better. Everyone told me Id have more energy and lose weight. He lasted less than a month. Everything was rice this and rice thatit was way too restrictive, he says. And I didnt feel any different healthwise than I did before. Yearwood reverted to his former eating habits. Some of the grains I eat have gluten, but I still feel amazing.
Just as fat was vilified in the 1990s and carbs have been scorned more recently, glutena protein found in wheat, barley, and ryehas become the latest dietary villain, blamed for everything from forgetfulness to joint pain to weight gain. “Gluten free” is a claim you see on everything from potato chips to bread to hummusand even on cosmetics and laundry detergent. Some people must avoid the protein because they have celiac diseasean autoimmune condition in which gluten causes potentially life-threatening intestinal damageor gluten sensitivity. But less than 7 percent of Americans have those conditions.
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Ok So Should You Go Gluten Free To Lose Weight
Maybebut there are some things you need to understand first.
Remember those friends who bragged about their amazing weight loss when they went gluten-free? Did you notice that a few months later they started gaining weight and looking tired again?
What happened here? Did their gluten-free diet just stop working for them?
In a way, it did.
Lets go back through time, before they eliminated gluten. A typical day might look like this: cereal for breakfast, a bagel sandwich for lunch, and pizza for dinner. Gluten for every meal!
Then they tossed all their wheat products in trash. There was nothing left to eat except maybe some eggs, meats, butter, and vegetables in their fridge. Foods like these
So thats what they lived on while they learned what is and isnt gluten-free.
But after a few weeks, they wanted their cereals, pizza, cookies, beer, and bread back. So off they went to the natural foods grocer to buy a bunch of expensive gluten-free foods .
And they purchased things like this:
Processed Food Is Still Processed Food
Often gluten-free foods are thought to be healthier and are associated with weight loss. The current trend is to believe that a gluten-free bread or pasta is superior to the traditional gluten-containing product. The problem is that whether it is gluten-free or gluten containing, it is still a processed food. Breads, pastas, crackers, cookies, and pancakes are all made from flour and sugar gluten-free refers only to the type of flour used.
When you compare gluten-free products to gluten-containing foods you will see that they could not promote weight loss or be healthier. Gluten-free processed foods tend to be higher in calories, fat, and sugar and lower in fiber.
Let’s compare the most popular gluten-free bread with a 100 percent whole-wheat bread:
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