The gluten-free diet is often touted by celebrities and fitness freaks for weight loss. Is substantial weight loss with a gluten-free diet plan truly possible? Let’s find out.
The gluten-free diet is often touted by some celebrities and fitness freaks for weight reduction. A 2013 study  found that 27% of American adults choose gluten-free products to aid in weight loss. Also, 65% of them have a notion that gluten-free foods are healthier.
Although a strict gluten-free diet is mandatory for individuals suffering from wheat allergy, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or nonceliac gluten sensitivity, is it beneficial for those trying to lose weight? Can you really achieve substantial weight loss by following a gluten free diet plan? Let’s find out:
Who doesn’t love freshly baked banana bread, chocolate cookie, or a cheese sandwich? No doubt these foods can appeal to the most finicky person, they can be a cause of concern for some people. Reason – they have gluten in them. So what is gluten and what are gluten foods?
According to Coeliac Australia, gluten is a protein commonly found in grains like wheat, triticale, rye, and barley. It is most commonly present in foods like baked goods, pasta, cereals, candies, and crackers. Gluten protein is added to impart elasticity to the dough and give a unique texture to the food.
Now you may be wondering – who can and cannot eat gluten foods? The answer is simple – gluten foods are safe to eat for most individuals. Unless you have gluten intolerance symptoms or certain medical conditions like celiac disease, you can resort to such foods. Well, you should avoid gluten or gluten-containing foods & drinks if you are diagnosed with the following health concerns:
- Celiac Disease – an autoimmune disease that damages the small intestine when gluten is ingested and disables its functionality of absorbing nutrients.
- Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) – shows the same general symptoms as celiac disease but in its absence.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – A condition that affects the large intestine.
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis – a chronic skin condition associated with celiac disease and characterized by intensely itchy, blistering skin.
Foods to eat/avoid when on a gluten free diet
Gluten is found in a wide variety of foods, including bread, pasta, cereal, and pastry. It is also often used as a food additive in processed foods. Fortunately, there are many gluten-free alternatives to gluten-containing foods. For example, there are now gluten-free breads, pastas, and cereals available at most grocery stores.
In addition, there are many naturally gluten-free foods that can be enjoyed on a gluten-free diet, such as fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, fish and shellfish, and beans and legumes. The easiest way to redeem the benefits of gluten-free diets or achieve weight loss with a gluten-free diet is to eat single-ingredient, unprocessed foods.
If you’re gluten intolerant, or if you are avoiding gluten in order to lose weight, read the table below for a primer on what to eat/avoid:
Benefits of Gluten Free Diet
Studies have been increasingly proving the health value of a gluten-free diet. The benefits of this diet stretch beyond the usual weight reduction and relief from celiac disease. Some of the benefits of a gluten-free diet are listed below:
- It reduces chronic inflammation in celiac disease patients
It is a well-known fact that a gluten-free diet helps lower chronic inflammation in people struggling with celiac disease. Several studies  conducted in the past have shown that diets rich in gluten-free foods reduce inflammation markers and also treat gut damage done by gluten-related inflammation in individuals with celiac disease.
- It relieves digestive symptoms
Most people either try to achieve weight loss with a gluten-free diet or opt for gluten-free foods to treat their digestive issues. Many scientific studies  have proved that a gluten-free diet can help relieve digestive symptoms like bloats, constipation, diarrhea, and so forth. In one study , a large group of people with celiac disease consumed a gluten-free diet for 6 months. In the end, it was found that there was a significant reduction in their stomach pain and the frequency of diarrhea.
- It can help you lose weight
It’s not unusual to lose weight with a gluten-free diet. The idea behind this kind of weight loss is that a gluten-free diet eliminates junk and processed food and replaces them with lean protein and fresh fruits & veggies. This eventually eliminates unwanted calories and helps in healthy weight loss. So, if weight loss with a gluten-free diet is your goal, try to avoid high-calorie, processed foods. Instead, eat a lot of whole, unprocessed foods like seasonal vegetables, fruits, legumes, healthy fats, and lean proteins.
- It can boost energy levels
Experts say those coping with celiac disease are often found tired or sluggish. These symptoms are generally a consequence of nutrient deficiencies because of poor absorption of nutrients by the gut or small intestines. Fortunately, switching to gluten-free foods can boost the energy levels in people with celiac disease. This has been testified by a study  that found that only 22% of patients with celiac disease experienced fatigue after relying on a gluten-free diet out of 66% of them who complained of fatigue in the first place.
- Additional benefits of this diet plan
A gluten-free diet is not only beneficial for those with certain medical conditions like celiac disease but benefits common folk too. Here are some additional benefits of gluten-free diet for other individuals:
- A gluten-free diet can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- It encourages us to eat fresh fruits and veggies for optimal health.
- A gluten-free diet eliminates unhealthy, processed food that can lead to conditions like obesity, bad cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Disadvantages of a Gluten Free Diet
Although a diet comprised of gluten-free foods are great for people with digestive ailments and celiac disease, it comes with a handful of side effects too. Even if you are trying to lose weight by going gluten-free, consider the following cons beforehand:
- It can engender constipation
If you are on a gluten-free diet, you may experience symptoms of constipation. Reason – most gluten-free substitutes are low in fiber. And a diet poor in fiber content can lead to fewer bowel movements. On the other hand, consuming a fiber-rich diet is known to promote healthy bowel movements according to science .
- It can put you at a risk of nutritional deficiencies
If you opt for a gluten-free diet, you will be at risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. These deficiencies  are generally associated with vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12, fiber, iron, and calcium. The best you can do to prevent these deficiencies and meet your nutritional needs is to consume a well-balanced diet. If you have celiac disease, try fortified gluten-free versions of foods and vitamin & mineral supplements.
- It can cost you a lot
A gluten-free diet can be a costly experience if you have a strict budget. Research shows that foods labeled as gluten-free are more expensive than regular food items. So, if you are on a tight budget, you can fall back on naturally processed, single-ingredient whole foods. Try to buy your fruits and veggies from a local farmer’s market instead of supermarkets.
Is Weight Loss with Gluten Free Diet Possible?
The notion that a gluten-free diet can help you lose weight is not new. Many people believe that weight loss with a gluten-free diet is real. Some people also say that gluten-free foods can promote healthy weight loss. But what does science say about gluten-free diet weight loss? Scroll down to discover in great detail.
When a person decides to rely on a gluten-free diet for weight loss, he or she has to ditch everything containing gluten. This includes bread, baked goods, desserts, unprocessed foods, sauces, food additives, and so forth. Now when they cut these high-calorie foods, they eventually tend to lose some amount of weight.
However, there is no scientific evidence  that claims that going gluten-free will result in weight loss. Further, ditching gluten will allow you to choose meals with lean proteins, fruits, and veggies instead of cheeseburgers and fries. This can subsequently lead to weight loss over time. Moreover, if you are relying on a gluten-free diet, you will be mindful of labels and portion size. This will not only help you make healthy food choices but also prevent unnecessary weight gain.
On the other hand, some studies  have also shown weight gain in people with celiac disease after switching to a gluten-free diet. This may be due to increased appetite or improved absorption of nutrients.
With conflicting research, it can’t be concluded that gluten-free diets will always lead to weight loss.
Sample Gluten Free Diet Plan for Weight Loss
If you are looking forward to weight loss with a gluten-free diet, here is a sample 5-day plan for you. Given below is a gluten-free diet plan for beginners:
Going gluten-free is extremely beneficial for those with health concerns like celiac disease, digestive disorders, and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. When it comes to weight reduction, there is no solid scientific evidence showing that gluten-free diet can help people lose weight. So, unless you have medical concerns like celiac disease, you need not restrict gluten consumption.
To maintain a healthy weight, we recommend eating more whole foods rich in healthy nutrients. Also, it’s crucial to limit the intake of processed food and unhealthy stuff that are loaded with calories. Going gluten-free can help you with that. Meanwhile, don’t forget to exercise as it too plays an important role in maintaining optimum body weight and overall health.
There is very little trusted, scientific and verifiable information regarding gluten-free food, and diet. Consequently, there is a lot of myth and misinformation among people regarding the same. Hopefully, the following frequently asked questions about gluten and gluten-free food can help you clear a few long-held doubts:
Can you lose weight by eating gluten-free?
Consuming foods with gluten-free ingredients may help weight loss. Those who have gluten sensitivity may also lose weight when they stop consuming foods that contain gluten. Often even people without gluten intolerance lose weight when they go gluten-free. This is because most gluten-free foods are whole, unprocessed foods.
How can I tell if a food is gluten-free?
The best way to determine if a food is gluten-free is to check the food labels behind the package. If the food contains wheat, rye, or barley, it contains gluten. Caution and awareness is a must here, since some foods may be labeled “gluten-free,” but this does not necessarily mean the food is free of gluten.
What are the early warning signs of celiac disease?
What are the early warning signs of celiac disease? Among the early warning signs for celiac disease diagnosis are, weight loss, fatigue, and abdominal pain. Other early warning signs include joint pain, skin rashes, and headaches. If you think you might have celiac disease, it’s important to see your doctor for advice.
How much weight can you lose on a gluten-free diet?
average loss of weight on a gluten-free diet is around five to fifteen pounds. However, weight loss may vary depending on how much gluten was consumed before starting the diet and other individual factors.
Are all fruits and veggies naturally gluten free foods?
contain gluten. Therefore, it is important to read the food labels on any processed fruits, dried fruits, vegetables, and pre-manufactured smoothies or shakes.
Are there gluten free options in sauces and dressings?
Yes, there are gluten-free options in sauces and dressings. Most salad dressings and tomato-based sauces are generally free of gluten containing ingredients like flour and thickeners. However, you should check the label to be sure. Some soy sauces and teriyaki sauces contain gluten.
|↑1||National Library of Medicine: The Gluten-Free Diet: Fad or Necessity?|
|↑2||PubMed: Antibody levels in adult patients with coeliac disease during gluten-free diet: a rapid initial decrease of clinical importance|
|↑3||National Library of Medicine: A gluten-free diet effectively reduces symptoms and health care consumption in a Swedish celiac disease population|
|↑4||PubMed: Effect of a gluten-free diet on gastrointestinal symptoms in celiac disease|
|↑5||PubMed: A gluten-free diet effectively reduces symptoms and health care consumption in a Swedish celiac disease population|
|↑6||National Library of Medicine: The Gluten-Free Diet: Safety and Nutritional Quality|
|↑7||PubMed: Nutritional deficiencies in celiac disease|
|↑8||Cleveland Clinic: The Surprising Truth About Gluten-Free Food and Weight Loss|
|↑9||Harvard T.H. Chan: Diet Review: Gluten-Free for Weight Loss|