Lots of people are embracing a gluten-free diet these days. Some truly must, perhaps they have an autoimmune disease such as celiac, when, as Gluten-Free Living describes, "The body mistakenly reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, as if it were a poison." It's been reported that celiac disease affects one in 133 people, but far more are sweeping the supermarket shelves in search of gluten-free goods armed with the mindset that these foods will be better for their diets, in turn, giving them a better figure.
Depending upon these folks' overall diet and health, perhaps it is true – their gluten-free intake is doing them just fine. They may enjoy the flavor or texture of these products, or they're just hopping on what they think is the latest food trend, a la Atkins or juicing.
But buyer (and eater) beware. Unless you need to be gluten-free due to a pre-existing condition, all that gluten-free goodness may just make you gain weight. Like the sugar-free craze of the '90s, the unintended result of a big belly and excess junk in the trunk may be the gluten-free finale you weren't expecting. Here are some reasons why gluten-free may make you fat.
Calories, Fat, and Sugar, Oh My!
Lots of gluten-free goods are loaded with excess calories, sugar, and fat, as per Today's Dietician. This may be due to the manufacturers' attempts to make these foods more palatable due to the removal of gluten. Additionally, lots of these gluten-free products are low in nutrients, so the consumer may wind up eating more of these foods than intended in order to compensate for what their bodies are craving. According to Health, "Some gluten-free foods are made with refined gluten-free grains, which have been stripped of their fiber and nutrients, like white rice." People are under the impression that "gluten-free" means "healthy" which isn't always the case. Like every food choice, checking the labels is always wise in order to know what you're getting and how much of it you ought to eat.
Junk Food in Disguise
In addition to the above issues, lots of gluten-free products are basically just as bad for you as a bag of greasy potato chips or a sticky, gooey candy bar. According to My Nutritious Life, "The gluten-free aisle is filled with tons of highly processed, packaged food that can pack on pounds." Sounds a heck of a lot like the junk food aisle. Just because "gluten-free" is splashed across the label, it means little about the food's healthfulness. That said, there are gluten-free options with health benefits. All it takes is a little perusing to choose the ones that have the best balance of ingredients. Otherwise, as per My Nutritious Life, "Opt for real, whole, nutrient-dense foods that nature made for us like clean poultry, grass-fed beef, wild caught seafood, vegetables and fruits, healthy fat, legumes, and grains." Simplicity always beats out the latest fads.
What About Your Diet as a Whole?
While going gluten-free may be something you want to try, just by swapping gluten-filled for gluten-free isn't all you need to do to make a difference in your diet. Aside from the prior pointers to look out for, even if you shop carefully for the gluten-free goods, you'll surely have other foods in the mix that make up your overall daily diet. Think about your diet as a whole and base your choices around the full days' worth of food, not just by the fact that you've opted for some gluten-free nibbles. For example, think about the person who says all they had for breakfast was a container of Greek yogurt, then they wolf down a cheeseburger and waffle fries for lunch. This person wonders why he hasn't lost weight (or is gaining weight) and the evidence is pretty clear to the rest of us. The full tally of calories and nutrients is what makes up the well-rounded diet, not a standalone moment of perceived good health.