In recent years there has been an increase in celebrities and health bloggers promoting the use of a gluten-free diet for weight loss purposes. Claimants say it improves digestion and boosts energy levels, but does the science back these glowing testimonials?
But as a researcher The Journal of Pediatrics (opens in new tab) points out that almost a third of Americans now limit their gluten consumption over time. However, there is no evidence that gluten-free diets can provide any significant health benefits for those who have no trouble digesting gluten. Despite many health claims, gluten-free diets have not been shown to reduce the risk of gluten deficiency Celiac disease rates remain stable , or heart disease . Type 2 diabetes
So, is a gluten-free diet for weight loss fact or fiction? Read on as we unwrap the science.
How does a gluten-free diet work?
eliminates all foods containing gluten or contaminated with gluten. According to the gluten-free diet Foundation Celiac Disease (opens in new tab), The main sources of gluten include grains such as wheat, rye, barley, triticale, and cross-contaminated oats and their derivatives – malt, brewer’s yeast, and wheat starch. Therefore, individuals suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity must avoid many common staple foods, including pasta, noodles, bread, baked goods, breakfast cereals, and beer.
Gluten is also commonly found in sauces and condiments, particularly soy sauce and malt vinegar. In addition, food manufacturers use it as a food additive or filler. In these cases, labels will usually list it as maltodextrin or wheat starch.
(Image credit: Getty Images) Is There a Link Between Gluten and Weight Loss?
Because gluten-free alternatives tend to be expensive and hard to come by, a typical gluten-free diet usually consists of naturally gluten-free whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and
like brown rice, gluten-free grain , and millet. Remove foods high in simple carbohydrates and replace them with minimally processed, Andean millet that can actually help promote weight loss and well-being. high-fiber foods
Anecdotal evidence from clinical practice suggests that celiac sufferers who switch to a gluten-free diet may find it easier to lose weight. “Typically, they lose inches from their waists and pounds,” agrees Dr. Monika Wassermann, the doctor at,
Oliolusso (opens in new tab). However, there is no evidence that gluten itself contributes to weight gain or interferes with weight loss in any way.
“What usually happens when someone avoids gluten is that they limit carbohydrates and end up losing weight as a result. It’s never the gluten, only the restrictive diet that leads to weight loss,” says Sophie Medlin,
Doctorate (opens in new tab)-Certified Nutritionist and Director of CityNutritionist (opens in new tab). (Image credit: Getty Images)
So what does science say about gluten-free diets for weight loss? Research studies show mixed results. Many articles have shown that avoiding gluten can actually contribute to weight gain. According to a study published in
Nutritional Pharmacology and Therapeutics (opens in new tab) Journal, a gluten-free diet resulted in 15.8% of celiac disease patients moving from a normal or low BMI to an overweight BMI class, while 22% of those already overweight gained more weight. A similar study from The American Journal of Gastroenterology (opens in new tab) has shown that 81% of people with celiac disease gain weight after two years on a gluten-free diet.
At the same time, researchers from the
European Journal of Internal Medicine (opens in new tab) and the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology (opens in new tab) have found that avoiding gluten can have a positive effect on BMI for both underweight and obese individuals. A 2013 animal experiment (opens in new tab) also found that a gluten-free diet can increase fat-burning ability as well as reduce insulin resistance and inflammation in adipose tissue. However, human studies are needed to confirm these results.
What could be the reason for these stark differences? Many scientists found that most celiac disease patients were overweight at the time of diagnosis and did not have a good understanding of healthy eating.
Are gluten-free foods healthier for you?
Gluten adds texture, structure, flavor, and mouthfeel to baked goods. To mimic the functional and sensory effects of gluten, many gluten-free products can be fortified with less healthy ingredients.
“Food manufacturers need to add more fat, sugar, and additives to make the food taste good and behave like it contains gluten,” says Medlin. “Something that is gluten-free does not in any way imply that it is healthier.”
Williams adds, “A gluten-free cookie still contains a high amount of sugar, fats, and carbohydrates, just like a regular cookie. In this case, choosing the gluten-free option doesn’t mean it’s healthier.”
Medical professionals are also concerned that gluten-free diets can lead to potential nutrient deficiencies. “My main concern is how to recapture the key complex carbohydrate sources that have been eliminated from meals,” says Dr. Aquarius. “The diet also denies you the B vitamins, fiber, folic acid, calcium, and iron found in carbohydrates,” she adds.
According to a published review
nutrient (opens in new tab) Journal, avoiding gluten can result in significantly lower intakes of protein, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, folic acid, and sodium. Should you avoid gluten even if you don’t have celiac disease?
Unless you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you should “definitely not” eliminate gluten from your diet, says Medlin. “It can be harmful to your
and it causes unnecessary dietary restriction. Anyone with celiac disease would wish they could just eat gluten again. Shutting them out causes all sorts of problems.” gut health This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice.