It upended our diets and eating habits in 2014 with the release of the book, “Wheat Belly”, by William Davis MD. Suddenly, gluten-free foods were at the top of many people’s shopping lists. Before the book, very few of us had ever heard of gluten, let alone “gluten-free weight loss”.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in grains, including wheat, rye and barley. Considering that grains are the basis for a wide variety of our foods, including cereals, bread, pasta, cake, cookies, and even beer, we all generally eat a lot of gluten.
Unfortunately for the approximate 2% of people who have celiac disease, if they eat gluten their bodies will attack the protein, which leads to a number of issues, from simple bloating to intestinal damage. About 6% of us have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which can trigger milder symptoms when they eat gluten.
Where Did the Idea that Eating Gluten-Free Products Leads to Weight Loss?
The straight answer to whether eliminating gluten from your diet helps weight loss is: no, there is no evidence that avoiding foods that contain gluten will lead to weight loss. Like every other nutrient in our diets, gluten does not cause weight gain, so avoiding gluten doesn’t cause weight loss.
The subtitle on the cover of “Wheat Belly” is “Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health”. And the idea that gluten-free grains help with weight loss exploded from there.
Still, despite the evidence, many people who have switched to eating gluten-free meals swear that it promotes weight loss. However, when people switch to a gluten-free diet, they are forced to find replacements for the foods you can no longer eat.
That leads to paying more attention to what they eat, and they are more likely to opt for healthier foods, like fruits and vegetables. They will also be less likely to choose unhealthy, weight-inducing processed foods that contain gluten. And they will probably read more food labels, which leads to a greater awareness of other ingredients we all should avoid for weight loss, including sugar, sodium and high levels of saturated fats.
It’s important to remember that not all gluten-free foods are healthy, and they may be just as bad for your weight as anything else. The nutrition experts at your local Herbal One location can help you choose the right foods for you, gluten-free or not, to healthily lose weight and keep it off.
To learn more about other weight-loss myths, check out our article “It’s a New Decade – Let’s Put These Weight-Loss Myths to Rest”.