Is Gluten Free a Free Pass?

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Gluten

When it comes to eating healthy and dieting, many people are opting to go the gluten-free route.  There are many claims that gluten is making us fat and that cutting it out of our diets entirely will be the magic piece of the puzzle that finally makes us skinny.  Does it work? Could it be […]

When it comes to eating healthy and dieting, many people are opting to go the gluten-free route.  There are many claims that gluten is making us fat and that cutting it out of our diets entirely will be the magic piece of the puzzle that finally makes us skinny.  Does it work? Could it be THAT easy?  Let’s look at some of the facts about gluten and gluten-free diets and you can be your own judge of the gluten-free lifestyle.

FACTS:

  • Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
  • Foods that contain this protein are foods such as breads, pastas, beer, and a wide array of items you would never suspect.
  • Reading food labels becomes your best weapon against accidentally ingesting gluten.
  • Anything on the label that says, “gluten, wheat, barley, rye, food starch modified, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein, malt, maltodextrin, caramel color, natural flavors, spices, soy sauce, spelt, bulgar, durham, farina, graham, semolina and some forms of brewer’s yeast” means that product may contain gluten.
  • Gluten-free DOES NOT equal healthy. Most gluten free products have added salt, sugar and fat to make up for the lack of gluten in the product.
  • Gluten-free products contain more calories than their gluten-containing equivalents and will NOT help you to lose weight.
  • Celiac Disease is a condition that affects the lining of the intestines, making it difficult to digest and absorb critical nutrients.  Patients diagnosed with Celiac’s often have complaints of weight loss prior to diagnoses.  Once diagnosed, patient’s find that they are able to gain weight due to better absorption of nutrients.
  • Only 1% of the population of the United States are “true Celiacs.” Meaning—these individuals have a disorder in which ingesting gluten can be very detrimental to their health.
  • There is NO health benefit to eliminating gluten from your diet if you are not diagnosed as celiac or gluten sensitive.

Going gluten free by eliminating all processed foods and grains from your diet is a sure-fire way to cut a few pounds, but if you plan on still enjoying gluten-free versions of your favorite carbohydrates like breads, cakes, cookies and pies, then you will disappointed to know that you may actually put on weight as a result.  Going gluten-free for the purposes of weight loss only makes the “dieter” crave those forbidden foods even more.  And eating gluten-free versions of your favorite foods will probably not cure those cravings.  Going gluten-free often means sacrificing texture and taste;  and with no research supporting going gluten free for weight loss, you are better off sticking to the foods you eat now and just cutting back on portion sizes.

References:
ABC News, Gluten-free diets no help with weight loss. June 25, 2013 http://abcnews.go.com/Health/gluten-free-lead-weight-loss/print?id=19476263

Fox News, Health.com. Your 5 worst gluten-free mistakes. May 14, 2013. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/14/your-5-worst-gluten-free-mistakes/print

HealthCastle.com, Sofia Layarda. Does going gluten-free make you lose weight? Sept 12,2011. http://www.healthcastle.com/print/1028

CNN, Dr. Arthur Agatston, Gluten: 5 things you need to know. April 5, 2013

  • WebMD, Salynn Boyles, Gluten sensitivity: Fact or fad?. Feb. 20, 2012.
Registered Dietitians

Registered Dietitians

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