I have been hearing this question a lot lately when patients come in for weight management. Can a gluten-free diet really help you with weight loss?
First of all, gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten can be found in many foods, even ones that would not be expected because gluten can be used to add texture and flavor.
When a person is following a gluten-free diet, normally he or she is eliminating foods such as bagels, pastries, cookies, cakes, flour tortilla, beer, breads and cereals, which essentially is eliminating lots of calories.
Replacing gluten-containing processed foods with foods such as beans, rice, fruits, vegetables and other whole foods is likely to result in weight loss. Nevertheless, there are no studies that show a gluten-free diet will aid in weight loss.
Gluten-free products typically contain less fiber and lack in nutrients such as iron and vitamin B (folate and niacin). Unless you have Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance, following a gluten-free diet is unnecessary and for some can be unhealthy.
If you don’t read labels carefully, many gluten-free packaged foods can be just as high in sugar and fat as other junk foods.
The reality is that you can lose weight on just about any diet that requires caloric reduction. And there is no indication that cutting out gluten helps you do just that.
Damayanti is a registered dietitian at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in Stockton.