Why are dieters turning to gluten-free foods to lose weight?
What is Gluten?
What is celiac disease?
Gluten is shorthand for a family of storage proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. The gluten proteins are found in the mature seed of these cereal grasses, which is what we refer to as the grain. Close relatives of wheat, such as spelt, triticale, kamut, farro, and einkorn, also contain gluten and must be avoided on a gluten-free diet.
Everywhere you turn it seems someone is talking about the evils of gluten. Is gluten-free the new low carb?
Certainly a gluten-free diet is vitally important for individuals with celiac disease — an inherited autoimmune condition that affects about 1 out of 100 Americans. For these folks, a gluten-free diet is far from a fad. The gluten in wheat, rye, and barley can severely damage the intestines if not strictly avoided.
Beyond those with celiac, there’s another 6 percent of the population who are estimated to have gluten sensitivity. For everyone else, gluten is just one of many food proteins encountered in the course of a mixed diet, neither detrimental nor essential to good health.
Yet, celiac and gluten sensitivity are not the driving force behind the soaring rise of gluten-free foods. Instead, these foods are increasingly being gobbled up by people who want to lose weight. In reality, there’s nothing inherent about a gluten-free diet that will enhance weight loss, unless it helps you “get rid of the junk” and eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are naturally gluten-free.
Many commercially prepared gluten-free baked items often have twice the carbs and a lot of sugar and fat compared to their gluten-containing counterparts.
If you tolerate gluten and enjoy it, there’s no compelling reason to avoid it. If you don’t tolerate it or just prefer not to eat it, there’s no compelling reason for you to keep it in your diet (other than, perhaps, convenience). Many people find that cutting out gluten helps them avoid the temptation of the numerous empty-calorie, high-glycemic, processed snack foods that they want to eliminate. Others, however, find that cutting out gluten only to replace it with gluten-free versions of these same empty-calorie, high-glycemic, processed snack foods is of no benefit for weight loss, energy levels, or improved health. (Foods with a high-glycemic index release sugar quickly into the bloodstream, causing a quick spike in energy that’s followed by a dramatic dip in blood sugar levels. This dip leads to hunger relatively soon after eating.) A “gluten-free” claim is by no means an indication that a food is more natural, healthful, or lower in calories.
Talk with our doctors at Med-Ped Health about our weight loss management programs.