Don’t Diet to Lose Weight, Just Go Gluten Free

Who doesn’t want to lose weight without dieting? Is going gluten-free the answer to lasting weight control that will finally free you from tedious dieting? 

What is gluten and why would it help your weight management?

Whole grains, such as wheat, rye and barley have gluten and so do refined grains.

Whole grains, such as wheat, rye and barley have gluten and so do refined grains.

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. Wheat, barley and rye are common ingredients in cakes, cookies, pies, muffins. bagels and crackers. If you stopped eating all of those foods to stop eating gluten, it could represent a large reduction in calories.

Reducing calories would reduce your weight. It’s not the gluten-free foods you’re eating that make you lose weight, it’s reducing your calories by cutting out a food group and not replacing it with something else.

If you eat the gluten-free versions or replace those foods with other foods such as fatty meats, or foods processed with added sugars and fats you most likely will increase your calories substantially. Many of the gluten-free versions are considerably higher in calories than their standard glutenous counterparts. Now your gluten-free eating is going to make you heavier than when you started.

Scientists are trying to learn if gluten affects hunger and satiety hormones.

Research showed that it does make a difference for children with celiac disease, but the results don’t translate to people without the disease.

There is nothing to indicate that there is a benefit to your weight-related goals to avoid gluten.

There are about 3 million celiacs in the U.S. who must avoid gluten because it causes extreme gastrointestinal symptoms and even for them, it’s not a reliable form of weight management. There’s no reliable evidence to say avoiding gluten will do anything for your waistline.

The confusion about gluten, what it does or doesn’t do is good, however, for a burgeoning gluten-free food industry.

Most foods stored in the fridge don't have and never had gluten with the exception here of the pie crust. Gluten IS ONLY in foods containing wheat, rye or barley. Animal sources of food will never have gluten nor will you find gluten in fruit and vegetables.

Most foods stored in the fridge don’t have and never had gluten with the exception here of the pie crust. Gluten IS ONLY in foods containing wheat, rye or barley. Animal sources of food will never have gluten nor will you find gluten in fruit and vegetables.

Clever marketers are taking advantage of the gluten-free fad and they’re making money because too many people don’t know what foods normally don’t contain gluten.

Foods marked gluten-free sell! People are confused about what foods contain gluten and why avoiding it could be a useful way to lose weight but it’s not!

Food-labeling guidelines released by the FDA allow even foods that never had gluten, such as vegetables, fruits, eggs and bottled water, to be labeled as gluten-free. The gluten-clueless buy the gluten-free labeled products rather than the same foods without the label.

In a grocery store full of competitive products made by different manufacturers, pricing may be higher and sales brisker for the package reading, “gluten-free, no trans fats, no high-fructose corn syrup!” in green (we associate green font with health!) writing on the front than a similar product without all the latest marketing hype words.

So forget about cutting out gluten for an easy way to manage weight.Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 9.12.53 AM

Instead, make regular physical activity a part of your life while building your food plan on lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains (including wheat, barley and rye), protein, legumes, nuts, seeds, and  low fat/fat free dairy, to get the nutrients you need to keep your weight and your grocery bill lower!

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.