Every few years, a new health food trend emerges, and right now “gluten free” products are all the rage. While some people must follow a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease, many others are opting to go gluten free due to perceived health benefits. But could a gluten-free diet also be the key to weight loss?
We’ve been consuming gluten, the protein found in many grains, for around 10,000 years. But our consumption of gluten has really skyrocketed since 1992, when the USDA created the food pyramid that suggests 6-11 servings of grains per day. Ever since, doctors have noted an uptick in the number of celiac disease cases, although researchers have yet to pinpoint the exact cause. While we don’t fully understand the origins of celiac disease, the increased prevalence explains why you’re seeing so many “gluten free” products on the shelves of your local grocery store. And with trim, fit celebrities touting the benefits of a gluten-free diet, you might be wondering whether ditching gluten could help you lose weight.
The answer is: For the most part, no.
It’s easy to confuse healthy-sounding buzzwords with possible weight loss benefits. Remember the “fat free” craze back in the 1990s? Food companies emblazoned labels with “fat free”, suggesting these products would help you lose weight, but neglected to mention that these foods were often packed with sugar (and therefore, calories). Many people fell for the marketing hype and purchased foods that did nothing to lower their overall caloric intake.
The gluten-free craze is another example of marketing hype confusing consumers. While gluten-free products are absolutely essential for someone suffering celiac disease, for health reasons, the healthy-sounding buzzword does not equate weight loss or any other health benefits for the rest of us. So no, gluten-free foods won’t necessarily help you lose weight.
However, if you’ve previously relied upon a diet heavy in processed carbohydrates, going gluten-free would essentially cut those high-calorie, nutrient-deficient products from your diet. In that sense, going gluten-free could help you lose weight; but it’s not really the lack of gluten that causes your weight loss. It’s really just the lack of those fatty, unhealthy products, which are cut out by default.
Of course, if you purchase “gluten free” snacks that are saturated in sugar, you likely will not see any weight loss results at all. A gluten-free diet is only healthy and beneficial when you avoid processed snack foods, even ones promoted by healthy-sounding buzzwords, and rely upon a diet based in fresh produce, lean meats, and fish.
For more information on medical weight loss, call our office to schedule an appointment. We can help you modify your diet so that you lose weight and keep it off forever.