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Does a Gluten-Free Diet Help You Lose Weight?

A Dietitian Explains Why Going Gluten-Free Won't Help You Lose Weight


Going gluten-free is trendy, feels healthy, and is definitely something to consider for those of us with intolerances and sensitivities. It involves cutting products with wheat, rye, barley, and other gluten-filled ingredients out of your diet, and people who've done it tout benefits such as weight loss, higher energy, and just feeling better. It's persuasive, but maybe worth a second look.

"Gluten has been completely vilified in the past decade," registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick of the Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute told POPSUGAR. Shows, books, blogs, and celebrities including Gwenyth Paltrow and Miley Cyrus have hopped on the trend, for intolerance reasons and more, and spread it far and wide. But Kristin told us that "for someone not sensitive to gluten" — that is, if you don't have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity — it's probably just fine.

This is especially true when it comes to weight loss. People transitioning to a gluten-free diet may well lose some weight, Kristin noted, but research has shown "that this usually has nothing to do with the gluten content." Most gluten-free weight loss actually comes from separate dietary improvements, like higher intake of fruits, veggies, and fibre that come along as positive side-effects.

That means that, for the most part, you can make other healthy choices and still glean the weight loss benefits you might get from going gluten-free. Upping your intake of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, Kristin says, plus eating more fibre and keeping your carb load within healthy limits (45-65 percent of your daily diet, or about 130 grams) are all weight-loss strategies you can grab without giving up your regular bread and pasta. Here's a two-week clean eating plan you can use to get started.

That being said, there are clear benefits to going gluten-free if you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Those can come with symptoms as common as bloating and abdominal pain, according to Healthline, and if you think you have a sensitivity, Kristin recommended seeing a doctor to confirm it with a blood test or DNA nutrigenomics test, like 23andMe. Celiac disease is another possibility that you'll need to consult with a doctor to diagnose.

For the rest of us, if you feel fine eating gluten, there's no weight-loss-related reason why you need to stop. Try a few other strategies instead, like going for whole foods and getting more exercise (check out this weekly workout plan to get started). Then, pass the pasta.

Image Source: Getty / Eugene Mymrin
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