Going gluten free has become popular over the past few years. Celebrities often brag about how it helped tremendously with their weight loss efforts. Does losing weight on a gluten free diet actually work? Let’s take a look at some factors that might make a gluten free diet a good option try.
Can Losing Weight on a Gluten Free Diet Work for me?
While the results you may have seen from some celebrities may seem like an easy fix, that’s not really true. Their results are thanks to plenty of exercise, eating healthier as well as avoiding wheat and gluten.
It’s not completely clear as to which factors are most important in terms of weight loss. It could be that healthy eating and exercise are more important than eating gluten-free, but let’s look at more information to help you make a decision about whether or not a gluten free diet may work for you.
What is a Gluten Free Diet?
Gluten is the name of a type of protein found in wheat, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) that helps give these foods shape and structure. It’s found in a lot of other foods that might not immediately scream wheat or rye, like sauces, salad dressings, malt, beer and food coloring.Today.com
Following a super strict gluten free diet is only required for people with certain conditions:
- Celiac Disease
- Wheat Allergy
- Gluten sensitivity – not as strict restrictions and 1 & 2
That said, more and more people try losing weight on a gluten free diet. The easiest way to avoid gluten is to eat unprocessed, single-ingredient foods. Otherwise, you should read the food labels of most foods you buy. You may be surprised by how many foods contain gluten. Here are a few examples:
- Bread. All wheat-based bread.
- Pasta. All wheat-based pasta.
- Cereals. Unless labeled gluten-free.
- Baked goods. Cakes, cookies, muffins, pizza, bread crumbs and pastries.
- Snack foods. Candy, crackers, pre-packaged convenience foods, roasted nuts, flavored chips and popcorn, pretzels.
- Sauces. Soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, marinades, salad dressings.
- Canned Soups. Many soups have hidden gluten in them.
- Beverages. Beer, flavored alcoholic beverages.
- Other foods. Couscous, broth (unless labeled gluten-free).
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My Experience Being Gluten Free – Yes, I lost Weight
For most of my life, I followed the 85/15 rule. I ate about 85% healthy foods saved 15% for splurges like treats, desserts and yes, even fast food. I felt that denying yourself anything 100% was not a healthy approach. As far as I knew, I had no dietary sensitivities.
A few years ago, I started to have some issues with hormonal fluctuation. My health professional suggested that I try going dairy free. Dairy can contribute to estrogen dominance. God, did I miss cheese and ice cream, but I found plenty of replacements like almond milk and other non-dairy products.
OK, so dairy issue solved, but then I started to have problems with constipation. This had never been an issue in my life. My Nurse Practitioner suggested that I may have developed a gluten sensitivity and that I should try going gluten free for a few months.
While going gluten free was a healthy related issue for me, the first thing I noticed was that losing weight seemed really easy. In fact, about 15 pounds seemed to just disappear. This is not saying this will be the case for everyone, but I wanted to share that it worked for me.
Exercise is Important too
Some people report weight loss without adding exercise into their daily routines. I’ll admit that this did work for me, but results like these are anecdotal and not well-researched.
Cutting the wheat and the gluten may help you lose weight more easily, but if you really want to accelerate your efforts, you’re going to need to break a sweat.
Exercise can help you build more muscle and lose fat, and muscle burns more calories, helping you lose even more fat.3 Don’t view your new gluten-free diet as a replacement for hitting the gym—make time for some healthy physical activities.VeryWellHealth.com
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Avoid Processed Gluten Free Foods
It’s really challenging to pass by gluten free cake and cookie mixes, but to really lose weight, you need to focus on healthy whole foods rather than processed foods. You can make some yummy gluten free cakes on your own so that they are not overly processed.
See: Clean Eating Tips
Remember that gluten free has no impact on the number of calories in foods either. Some people make this assumption.
Speaking of Calories – Keep an Eye on Them
While many people will lose weight going gluten free, there will be a plateau in this benefit. This is because avoiding gluten helps decrease your cravings and appetite overall.
To continue to lose weight, you’ll need to start counting calories. Use this tool to calculate a healthy calorie intake for your body and activity level.
Benefits of a Gluten Free Diet
In addition to weight loss, following a gluten free diet has a number of other benefits:
May reduce digestive issues
Going gluten free may improve digestive issues like bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Making this change in my diet really helped in these areas for me.
May increase energy levels
People with Celiac in particular report improvement in their overall energy levels. The jury is out as to whether or not this is a benefit for the average person.
May reduce headaches
There are several studies underway to discover the exact implications of this gut-brain connection. It is clear that people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease are more likely to experience migraine headaches. However, studies show that switching to a gluten-free diet can help to reduce the frequency of these headaches.Gluten Free Living
May Reduce Depression
People with Celiac disease report improved moods when switching to a gluten free diet. Anecdotally, this was a major improvement for me. I’ve struggled with depression for many years and going gluten free seems to have brightened my mood significantly.
Health Risks of Going Gluten Free
So, going gluten-free may seem like a slam-dunk option to start losing weight, but are there any health risks?
Following a gluten free diet may contribute to certain nutritional deficiencies. This can include going below the recommended daily values of fiber, iron, calcium, vitamin B12, folate, zinc, vitamins A, D, E and K and more. This is sometimes because people turn to processed gluten free foods rather than whole foods that are rich in nutrients.
If you don’t get your daily intake of fiber, being gluten free can lead to constipation. Aim to eat more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, such as lentils, beans, broccoli, sprouts and berries.
Make an Informed Choice
So does losing weight on a gluten free diet work? This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of gluten free information. I am happy to report that I’ve had some health benefits including weight loss.
Talk to your health care provider about what options would be healthy for your needs. It’s never a good idea to follow a diet just because it’s trendy. Always consult with your doctor before trying any change in diet or exercise.