Gluten-free diet lead to weight loss? Only if you do it right…

“Gluten-Free!” If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that this label is being touted on more and more food products- from cereals and breads to cookies and protein bars.  If you have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, these products may look like a godsend.  Finally, you can eat your favorite foods again without the stomach aches, diarrhea, skin rashes (or host of other ailments that gluten can cause)

Or maybe you may have heard that eliminating gluten can lead to weight loss so you’re thinking “Ok, I’ll buy the gluten-free pizza.  It must be better for me, right?”  Yes and no. Yes, if you have gluten intolerance or Celiac disease having the gluten free pizza is going to be much better on your system.  Consuming something that doesn’t cause you pain and suffering is always better in my book.  However… If you’re looking to lose weight, then these wonderful substitutes aren’t so wonderful.  In fact (gasp) they’re worse!

What the heck is gluten anyway?  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other “ancient” grains such as spelt, triticale, kamut, farro, and einkhorn.  Oats don’t technically contain gluten but they’re almost always crossed-contaminated with wheat.  So if your oatmeal doesn’t specifically say “gluten-free” you can assume it has gluten in it.

The majority of the gluten we consume comes from wheat.  However, today’s breads and muffins aren’t the same our grandmother used to bake.  Due to hybridization to produce stronger, more plentiful crops, wheat (particularly wheat gluten) has undergone considerable structural changes.  Today’s bread has hundreds of more gluten proteins that yesteryear.  This could be why Celiac disease is four times more common now then it was 50 years ago.

The reason why a gluten-free diet can lead to weight loss is because of the significant amount of carbohydrates removed.  Low carbohydrate diets are lower glycemic and thus don’t raise insulin levels as much.  They are proven to be an effective way to lose weight and keep it off.

If you’re eating gluten-free by removing these high carbohydrate foods you will lose weight.  However, if you’re now replacing bread, bagels, pastas, cereals, etc. with gluten-free products you will gain weight!  That’s because the substances they’re replacing the gluten with will spike your insulin levels even more! 

You should steer clear from the following gluten replacements if you don’t want to put on the pounds: Cornstarch, Rice starch, Potato starch, Tapioca starch

If you can’t remember the list,  just remember to avoid anything with “starch” after it.  These starches are rapidly absorbed by the body and actually increase blood sugar levels higher then sugar!

In conclusion, if you're looking to lose weight by going gluten-free, just remember, you should avoid the gluten-free substitute products.  Sadly, you can't have your gluten-free pizza (and eat it too)