Recently, there has been a lot of hype surrounding gluten-free diets and weight loss. Many are adopting this lifestyle in hopes of shedding some pounds, yet, they often are unaware of what gluten is and why cutting it out of their diet may help them reach their weight loss goals. Gluten in a protein found in the wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Examples of gluten containing foods include cereals, pasta, cookies, cakes, and even some meats and marinades. Gluten can often be hard for certain people to digest, namely, those with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestine, and when individuals with this disorder ingest something with gluten, they can become very ill. Common symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and anemia. You can be diagnosed with celiac disease by a few simple blood tests as well as a biopsy of the small intestine.
For those with celiac disease, research has found that the best treatment is to follow a strict gluten-free diet; however, in terms of weight loss, there is no sound evidence to support adopting this lifestyle. Although there are inherent benefits to avoiding gluten, such as consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables and possibly less processed foods, you don’t have to be strictly gluten-free to achieve this. Additionally, the gluten-free market is rapidly growing, causing more and more products to be made available, such as gluten-free waffles, breads and cookies. Just because these products are gluten-free, they are often not any lower in calories than the traditional product. In fact, they are often higher in fat and lower in fiber, which can inhibit weight loss.
If you are/thinking about following a gluten-free diet and you have not been diagnosed with celiacs, it is important to talk with an registered dietitian as well as your doctor in order to help guide you. Below is a link to an article recently made available at livestrong.com that can help answer any questions you may still have surrounding gluten, and of course, I am always available to help as well!