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  • Dr. Nancy

Gluten and Your Weight: What’s the Connection?

Going gluten free can be a popular choice for losing weight but it pays to be smart about how you go about a gluten free diet. It’s really easy to get things wrong and actually put on weight instead. Here’s how to make sure that your transition to being gluten free is healthy and will promote weight loss.

Gluten, weight loss, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten-free weight loss
Gluten may be at the root of weight gain.

Does gluten affect your weight?

Going gluten free may have an effect on your weight, even if you don’t have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten.

Some experts have argued that the problem may lie with wheat itself and not just gluten. Wheat contains compounds that may boost appetite and encourage overeating.

Thanks to modern processing methods, wheat products also have super strong potential to raise your blood sugar levels - maybe more so than sugar! The end result? You can be a lot more likely to store belly fat and widespread inflammation can contribute to weight gain.

For some people, avoiding gluten can be a game changer for health and wellbeing too.

If you’re celiac, going gluten free is an absolute must as eating even a really small amount of gluten can start to damage the small intestine and cause unpleasant symptoms (and not just in your gut!). A lot of people who are celiac won’t be looking to lose weight and will often shed pounds without even trying - often because nutrients can’t be absorbed properly from the food you’re eating. But some people do also gain weight if they’re celiac so it’s not necessarily black and white.

The only real way to know if you need to avoid gluten for your health, as well as your weight? Get tested to see if celiac disease might be playing any part in determining your weight challenges.

Going gluten free can also have benefits for people who are sensitive to gluten (but not celiac). While it’s not as damaging as celiac disease, gluten sensitivity can cause a plethora of symptoms as well. One of these is weight gain. Inflammation and hormone changes can be major culprits for this. Avoiding gluten can help to get your weight in check and wave goodbye to symptoms.

How to make sure a gluten free diet aids weight loss

Going gluten doesn’t automatically lead to weight loss, especially if you make some common mistakes with your gluten free diet. A lot of people actually put on weight when they go gluten free!

With these tips, you’ll be ready to make sure that your gluten free diet helps you to keep the pounds off and be healthy.

Avoid super processed gluten free foods. A lot of gluten free substitutes for bread, cake and other foods that are typically wheat heavy have more calories, fat, sugar and salt and this can lead to weight gain. Gluten free alternatives can actually be little more than junk food and aren’t as healthy as you might assume.

It’s hugely important to check the labels when you’re buying gluten free foods and avoid anything that looks unhealthy and is likely to contribute to weight gain. Or better still, make sure that your gluten free diet mostly stays clear of processed options and is packed full of fiber rich, healthy alternatives that won’t pile on extra pounds.

Be aware of hidden gluten. Gluten can lurk in some surprising places, and you won’t just find it in the obvious culprits such as bread and cakes. If you’re serious about going gluten free, check that you’re not accidentally consuming gluten in foods you don’t expect to find it in, like bottled salad dressing.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet. It’s important to make sure that you eat a healthy and balanced diet when you are gluten free. Whole grains provide essential nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins and magnesium. Replacing these elsewhere in your diet is a must to avoid deficiencies. Brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat can be perfect gluten free replacements to stay healthy and still promote weight loss. Avoiding processed gluten free foods is a big part of this, especially if you swap them for healthier alternatives.

See going gluten free as a starting point

Going gluten free can be a great starting point for weight loss and is helpful alongside other lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, eating healthy, keeping your stress levels in check and getting plenty of good sleep.

And remember, one size doesn't fit all. It is important to get to the root cause or causes of why you have gained weight in the first place.

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