There are 3 million Americans currently living with celiac disease. These individuals must follow a gluten-free diet. Each year, 45 million Americans embark on a diet in a bid to lose weight, and an increasing number of those people are voluntarily going gluten-free to aid their weight loss. With two-thirds of Americans being overweight or obese, it’s great that they are taking action to control the food they consume, but is going gluten-free really the solution?
Cutting the calories
With gluten-free products containing no wheat or gluten, you’d think that they would contain fewer calories and be healthier to eat. However, Lori Welstead, a dietitian at the University of Chicago Medicine,explains that this is a myth. “Gluten-free doesn’t mean low fat or low calorie. Although the gluten-free processed foods taste much better than those of 10 years ago, they can be double the calories of gluten-containing products.” Fox News reports that gluten-free granola typically has 375 calories per half cup, whereas, a version with gluten can have as few as 190 calories per half cup. If you don’t need to be on a gluten-free diet for health reasons and you want to lose weight, you’re better off overhauling your food choices and getting active to drop the pounds.
A risk to your health?
A new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that 13-percent of participants valued gluten-free foods as an important food attribute and that these individuals had a significant interest in health and nutrition, favoring organic, GM-free and locally produced food. However, it was also found that they were more likely to take risky, unhealthy or extreme measures to lose weight, such as smoking, using diet pills, or purposely vomiting after eating. These methods may help you shed the weight in the short term but they can cause serious health issues including, high blood pressure, liver damage, and kidney problems. Unless you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, it’s best to avoid gluten-free options and opt for a healthy diet and exercise plan instead.
Food label misconception
Label Insight reports that two-thirds of shoppers find food labels confusing and that they’re unable to decipher whether the product is ideal for them. Studies have also shown that food labels create a “health halo” effect where individuals are led to believe a food is healthy based on the label stating it is free from certain ingredients. Professor Dianne Neumark-Sztainer confirms this theory, stating “Prior research has shown that certain food labels, for example ‘organic’ carry a ‘health halo’ effect, encouraging consumers to opt for such products out of a belief that these products are healthier.” She goes on to add, “The health halo effect can have unintended consequences on eating habits, such as people over consuming because they believe they have chosen a healthier product.” As such, it’s vital you pay close attention to the nutritional value of the foods you consume if you voluntarily opt to go on a gluten-free diet.
There is no concrete evidence to support the theory that a gluten-free diet will aid weight loss, so it’s wise to leave the gluten-free diet to those whose gluten intolerance is confirmed. Instead, hit your weight loss goal by transforming your eating habits and participating in regular physical activity.
Sally Collins is a professional freelance writer with many years’ experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.