Diet trends come and go, but one health-focused fad that continues to grow increasingly more popular amongst celebrities and average Americans alike, is going “gluten free.” Sticking to a gluten free diet claims to drastically improve general health as well as promote weight loss, but how well does it really work? Let’s dive in a little bit more to scout out real answers about this latest health and fitness craze.
So what the heck IS gluten??
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and any products containing any of these grains, some of which might surprise you! While eating gluten free foods is crucial for those who have Celiac Disease, gluten can also be bothersome for those who suffer from Gluten Intolerance or a wheat allergy. Common symptoms between the three are abdominal cramps, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, etc – you get the point! If you’re experiencing any of these on a regular basis and you suspect you may have a gluten intolerance, be sure to discuss it with your healthcare team before starting a gluten-free diet. A correct diagnosis requires medical testing while any gluten is still in your system. Keep in mind, there are a lot of other conditions that cause these symptoms as well, so you gotta’ go see your doc to make darn sure!
It’s also important to know that other ingredients in gluten-containing products could possibly be the source of the symptoms you’re experiencing, so going gluten free might be unnecessary – and could be totally medically misleading. For nearly 6 years we thought Chris suffered from gluten intolerance, when all the while it was soy that was causing his issues! Go figure… 🙂
Now for the hot question of the day: Does going gluten free mean you’ll lose weight? Not necessarily. People who go gluten free might lose weight simply because they’re paying attention to what and how much they’re eating and cutting out all those not-so-healthy gluten-containing foods like cakes, cookies, refined flour breads, etc. Any lost pounds might not have anything to do with being gluten free! However, it’s just as easy to gain weight on a gluten free diet because gluten free doesn’t mean calorie free – and we are still bound by the basic laws of physics that dictate that we must consume fewer calories than we burn to lose weight!!
In fact, a good friend of ours and pioneer in body morphing, Drew Manning (@fit2fat2fit), intentionally gained nearly 30lbs following a gluten-free diet, and then lost it all – also following a gluten free diet. Check out his journey, as well as his first jaw-dropping journey of weight gain and weight loss where he intentionally gained nearly 75 pounds to gain appreciation (and compassion) for those going through the weight loss journey.
When it comes to eating gluten-free foods, beware!! Following the craze and demand, a lot of food manufacturers have been quick to jump on the gluten free bandwagon and often replace the gluten in their products with more fat, sugar, sodium, and/or calories, as well as highly refined fillers that can affect your blood sugar and increase cravings. Not good at all!
So what’s the solution? If you don’t have Celiac Disease, a confirmed Gluten Intolerance, or a wheat allergy, you will most likely be just fine eating whole grain and sprouted grain products with gluten in them (the less processed, the better!). And as usual, you can NEVER go wrong with good ol real, whole, natural foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts and seeds, reduced or fat free dairy, and healthy fats, like we do in Carb Cycling—that’s how the Powell Pack rolls! And if you do decide gluten free is right for you, carefully read those food labels to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your calorie and nutrition buck!
For more info on gluten, Gluten Intolerance, and Celiac Disease, check out these resources: