Gluten-free diets are the latest fad in healthy living — but they aren’t just a fad for everyone. They are a distinct necessity for those with celiac disease and for those with gluten sensitivity. Even if you don’t have to change your diet, however, the latest hype around gluten-free products seems to lead people to believe that it can provide some benefits for the average person when it comes to losing weight. But does it really work?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the lining of the small intestine to be damaged when gluten is ingested. Basically, it means that your body doesn’t process gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley products) properly. Instead, the gluten is seen as a foreign substance that the body launches an immune-response attack on. This immune response eventually damages the tiny hairs in the small intestine which are the main facilitators or nutrient absorption. Eliminating gluten from the diet keeps those susceptible to this disease healthier, but with all the recent hype around it, you may be surprised to find out that if you are not in the 1% of those who have the disease, it doesn’t actually benefit you to eliminate gluten at all — you may not even be reducing the number of carbohydrates you are eating.
You see, while adopting a gluten-free diet to help you out in weight loss might appear to help, it’s more about focusing on healthier living that does it, and not the elimination of gluten itself. The truth is, that gluten is not harmful to most people, nor is it making you gain weight. In fact, eating grains has quite the opposite effect: whole grains keep you full longer, and those who eat whole grains are said to have at least a 30 percent lesser risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Plus, grains that contain gluten also house other vital nutrients, including phytochemicals, which assist the body in helping to prevent other diseases, like cancer and heart disease.
But what about weight loss?
As mentioned earlier, you may be eliminating some carbs, so it may help you on your quest to lose weight. But, if you are replacing them with gluten-free alternatives, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these are carb-free, sugar free, or low in calories. In addition, any gluten-free substitutes will prevent you from getting the benefits of the the nutrients that exist in whole grains — those that really help with weight loss and proper health, like magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, and many B vitamins.
So, if you are looking to lose weight and are thinking about giving a gluten-free diet a whirl, try to remember what you’re giving up when you do. Unless you actually have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, a balanced diet (including those with whole grains), will give you better results for your health and weight loss progress overall. Gluten isn’t bad for most people, and it can actually help you lose weight faster when you stick to whole grains.