Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gluten-Free For Better Health and Weight Loss?

Think you should start a gluten-free diet to help you lose weight? Think again! Recently the gluten-free industry was "warned" about the nutritional content of their foods. Read this article for the full details.

Gluten free foods tend to be lower in fiber, protein, iron, and calcium, compared to their gluten-filled counterparts. This is because many of the grains and other ingredients used to replace wheat flour are low in these nutrients.

Think your gluten-free cake or brownie mix is better for you?

Think again.

I've noticed a majority of the gluten-free products actually contain more sugar. No thanks.

The real reason a gluten-free diet may help someone lose weight is pretty clear to automatically restricts a person's food options! Think about it. When you can't have gluten you can't stop at the demo table at your local grocery store to try the latest food craze, you can't eat at a majority of the restaurants (although this is slowly changing), and many times you can't eat foods that are served to you when you're a guest at a dinner party.

So the bottom line is that a gluten-free diet may help you lose weight, but not because gluten causes us to gain weight
, it's actually because you will likely end up eating less in the long run (or at least until you get used to the new diet!). Do I suggest this? Not at all, unless you really need to go gluten-free for medical reasons.

The good news for Celiac sufferers is that companies might start using more buckwheat flour (a whole grain, which does not contain wheat) in their products, which will significantly impact the nutrition of these products.

Examples of Gluten-Free Whole Grains



Corn (whole is best)


** Oats (oats are only gluten-free if the package indicates they are gluten free) **


Rice (brown is best)



Wild rice

I recently tried this gluten-free product and was very pleased with the taste, and nutrition profile.

The ingredients in most of Mary's Gone Crackers products contain quinoa, brown rice, flax seeds, and sesame seeds, which all provide some type of health benefit. I highly suggest checking out some of these products!

Question: I don't think anyone should go gluten-free unless they have to, but gluten-free products can still be enjoyed by anyone, so what's your favorite? Personally I really like the above products, and Bob's Red Mill's wheat-free flours.


  1. I'm so glad you wrote this- when I saw the title I thought you were going to say it has been shown to aide in weight loss and I was like ahh then why do all the gluten free products I find have LESS nutritional value. Good to know about buckwheat though.

    I agree it's all about having to think more before you eat something :)

  2. I totally agree with you. I'm a huge Mary's Gone Crackers fan. I also love buckwheat. It has such a nutty flavor, and is one of my favorite grains along with quinoa. I eat millet occasionally just to switch things up, but I do find it to be a little dry sometimes.

  3. This is exactly what I feel about the gluten-free trend. So many gluten free products tend to have more calories and less protein and fiber so I'm not sure how it became a weight loss trend in the first place. Of course people who are intolerant should avoid it, but I personally don't think I could cut it out of my diet without good reason. I am a fan of some gluten-free products like those Marys Gone Crackers and millet bread though. Good stuff!

  4. I agree. Honestly, I have the funniest story about a patient. They first saw me for new dx of celiac, so I taught them about the gluten free diet. It was an older patient so these were big changes. They were malnourished from the celiac and underweight. When they started feeling better their appetite came back, and that coupled with the gluten free products actually cause a 100# weight gain in a year. She contacted me a year later...for weight loss counseling. I found she had a large caloric intake from gluten free products. Some of those breads are very dense and she used them for every thing. I think it was just an educational issue, but by then it was hard to change these new habits because she felt she was left with so little.

    I like some gluten free products. I have had some good pastas and cookies. Plain old rice and veggies works for me too.

  5. Bob's Red Mill is awesome.. my go to for flours. I also enjoy Vans Waffles, LaTortilla Factory tortillas, Food for Life tortillas, Larabars.. umm am I'm sure there are more.

    I'm gluten intolerant soo this post was great Gina! I feel like people are using it as a food trend.. but you are totally right -- you end up cutting out calories.

  6. I've noticed the same thing about a lot of gluten free products. I still eat them though-if they taste good!

    At least GF people can eat a lot of really good grains. Amaranth, millet, and quinoa are nutritious and tasty.

  7. I don't get how gluten-free has become the newest diet craze.
    One of my favorite gluten free grains is definitely quinoa. Yum!
    My coworker has celiac and she is so creative. Her food always looks delish!

  8. Great post, and I utterly agree! In fact, many celiacs gain weight once going gluten-free because they're body's finally becoming well nourished. Also, i didn't lose weight when I gave up gluten. I did when I went vegan though... no surprise since my diet became even more limited. Not vegan anymore though.

    Fave GF products... over here there are two companies who make awesome bread- Genius and dietary specials. They're my fave. And I also love anyone who makes gluten-free dark chocolate (which is a lot of companies) :)

  9. It can be really confusing sometimes. It's good that you clarify the GF doesn't mean healthy. And I am 100% agree with you about the weight loss following GF diet, it's just less food period!
    I do like GF products like Udi's pizza crust and some GF bread mix. they tend to have a cake consistency ;)

  10. i bought gluten-free pasta for the husband once. he said he couldn't tell a difference (don't know if that's good or not) so we just went back to the regular. thanks for sharing that article, Gina, i like learning about this stuff :)

  11. Great post! Because gluten-free is trendy, so many people assume gluten-free products are healthier.

  12. I really like Mary's crackers, they are just so spendy!

    It makes sense that once you have to limit your options it could help you lose weight.

  13. I have a friend who eats gluten free to lose weight - I'm going to forward this post to her!

    Thanks for the great info!

  14. I don't intenionally eat anything that's gluten free, but I do like those crackers.

    In the spring I was tested for Celiac disease and I was so THANKFUL that it came back negative b/c I was not looking forward to having to change my eating habits so drastically.

  15. you make a very valid point. actually when i was intolerant to gluten, i retained water, so when i went gluten-free i lost a lot of the water weight i was holding on to even though i was eating a lot of gluten-free sugar foods. but after the gluten was all flushed out from my body, i had to watch how many gluten-free packaged foods i ate! mainly the white rice flour based products..cuz definitely one could gain weight much faster on them than whole wheat. and i found that because most had less fibre, i was hungrier too.

    xoxo <3

  16. The other day I was in the baking aisle and saw all these gluten free products...I think I might give it a try just to see how it tastes...thanks love for the info!

    and btw YES you need to come to nyc!

  17. i never pay attention to the glutenites in things! but my uncle suffers from celiacs and has been for a little over 10 years now so when i do see things that are gluten free i'll tip him off to it :) plus my aunt makes his own special bread

  18. Good post! I understand going for the gluten-free products if you legitimately have celiac disease, but otherwise, it shouldn't be a weight loss diet! That's good news about the buckwheat flour though, I LOVE that stuff. I haven't tried many gluten-free products but good to know more nutrient-dense options are becoming more available.

  19. It still escapes me as to how this trend could've even started. It's everywhere! Thanks for setting the record straight! I agree, flours - almond, specifically - is my favorite gluten-free product!

  20. great info. Never really got the whole gluten free thing

  21. You must have been reading my mind, Gina! I have been wondering abut this gluten free thingie too. Is this the new new thing after low carb eating? :-)

    Eating a gluten free diet without a good reason just sounds too complicated to me.

  22. I, too, thought you were going to promote a gluten-free diet for weight loss. I do, however, believe that our bodies are not designed to digest gluten. I have met hundreds of people who have a number of ailments that improved or went away upon starting a gluten-free diet. The healthiest ones stay away from the gluten-free goodies, but eat a high fiber diet with whole grains, flax seed, lots of veggies and fruits, etc. You can't possibly get healthy eating gluten-free pizza loaded with cheese, but you can eat if you eat a whole grain pizza crust and load it fresh herbs and veggies you'll have it made. Only if I did this!

  23. Hands down, in pediatrics, we see this diet because it's "sexy" or touted as "healthy" both in kids and their moms (I see a lot of perfectionistic moms following it) but research does not show any improvement on behavior.