Will Gluten-Free Foods Help You Lose Weight?

If you have gone shopping, picked up a magazine or read a blog recently, you are likely to have seen "gluten-free" promoted for weight loss, improved health or enhanced performance. Gluten-free has become the newest diet trend and gluten-free food sales are booming with a threefold increase in the past five years. The burning question is: Will gluten-free help you lose weight?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. A gluten-free diet would be devoid of all foods containing wheat, barely and rye. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awarness, about 3 million Americans have celiac disease, which is an autoimmune digestive disorder; however, of the 3 million only 150,000 have been properly diagnosed. The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. In addition to people with celiac, those with wheat allergies or non-celiac gluten sensitivity benefit from a gluten-free diet. There are still more people with inflammatory conditions that feel a benefit from limiting or limiting gluten from their diet.

For those who follow a gluten-free diet out of medical necessity, the abundance of gluten-free foods on the market are dreams come true; however, a market research firm Packaged Facts recently found only 10 percent of the people buying gluten-free foods have diagnosed reason to follow a gluten-free diet. So why is everyone eating gluten-free foods? Can gluten-free really result in weight loss?

Processed Food is Still Processed Food

Often gluten-free foods are thought to be healthier and are associated with weight loss. The current trend is to believe that a gluten-free bread or pasta is superior to the traditional gluten-containing product.  The problem is that whether it is gluten-free or gluten containing, it is still a processed food. Breads, pastas, crackers, cookies, and pancakes are all made from flour and sugar; gluten-free refers only to the type of flour used.

When you compare gluten-free products to gluten-containing foods you will see that they could not promote weight loss or be healthier. Gluten-free processed foods tend to be higher in calories, fat, and sugar and lower in fiber.

Let's compare the most popular gluten-free bread with a 100 percent whole-wheat bread:

 

Udi's (gluten-free)

Nature's Own (gluten-containing)

Calories

70 calories

55 calories

Fat

2 g fat

1 g fat

Fiber

.5 g fiber

2 g fiber

Sugar

1.5 g sugar

1 g sugar

Protein

1.5 g protein

4 g protein

 

Additionally, the gluten-free bread is denser, which means that you are getting more calories in a smaller piece of bread. This is the opposite of what you want for successful weight loss.  In fact, it is for these reasons that those who must follow a gluten-free diet out of medical necessity often struggle with their weight when they rely on these processed foods.

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