In a world where there seems to be a new diet almost daily, one of the current fads is the gluten-free diet. Although there may be valid reasons for cutting gluten from your menu, such as for those who suffer from gluten allergy or celiac disease, others may be eliminating gluten because of they’ve heard that gluten causes weight gain. Or, conversely, that avoiding gluten will help with weight loss. But, is that true?
Possibly for some, but not likely for most, say the experts.
Before explaining why, let’s take a moment to explore gluten, and what foods commonly contain gluten. Gluten is a complex protein found in most grains, including wheat, barley, rye, and oats. What is the most common food created from these grains? Bread, pasta, dough. What do we know about these foods? They contain carbohydrates, which, when eaten in excess, can lead to weight gain.
So it would be a stretch to say that eating foods with gluten leads to weight loss (or that eliminating gluten leads to weight loss). There are many contributing factors that may not be taken into consideration to explain exactly why someone has gained (or lost) weight.
That being said, there are times when there truly may be a link between weight gain and gluten. This link occurs most often with celiac disease. It is known that people with celiac disease suffer from malabsorption of nutrients when they eat gluten. People with this disease may be eating what would be sufficient amounts of food for a healthy person, but because they have celiac disease, their bodies are not absorbing the nutrients they need. This includes essential fats.
Because essential fats are needed but not being absorbed, celiac disease sufferers (especially those who haven’t been diagnosed and, thus, haven’t modified their diets) most likely crave foods that their bodies need. They eat quantities that far exceed what they should, leading to excess fat being stored in the body, and, eventually, weight gain. In this situation, eating foods with gluten will possibly lead to weight gain.
People who have undiagnosed celiac disease may be put on a low-fat diet (either on their own or by their doctors), thinking that fats are the cause of their obesity, when, in fact, the cause is gluten. When this happens, people are often surprised to find that their low-fat diets have resulted in either additional weight gain or no loss of weight.
Experts have not confirmed the reason for this, but many believe that those on a low-fat diet will increase their grain intake. The grain contains gluten, which makes their problems worse, thus the increased weight gain while eating low-fat.
For many, going gluten-free in an effort to lose weight is nothing more than a fad. Celebrities who have publicly announced that they are on gluten-free diets, such as Oprah, unfortunately contribute to the fad, since their actions influence their fans, who think they will also lose weight from such a diet.
For people who have celiac disease and are overweight, though, a gluten-free diet may be one of the best ways for them to lose weight. The best thing to do is discuss going gluten-free with your doctor, possibly even having testing done to verify if this is the right step, before attempting to lose weight by eliminating gluten from your diet.
Gluten-Free Diet: a Cure for Some, a Fad for Most- http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/digestive-disorders/articles/2008/10/31/gluten-free-diet-a-cure-for-some-a-fad-for-most