Gluten-Free and Weight Loss

Feet on a Scale

More and more we hear of famous people who are going gluten free.  Often times weight loss is the reason they give for their dietary change.  Is the gluten-free diet a weight loss diet?

Basically, no.  But depending on circumstances, people can lose weight when they go gluten free.  However, many people gain weight on a gluten-free diet.  I’ll share a few reasons why weight loss or gain can happen, but first I want to be clear about the purpose of the gluten-free diet.

People with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity require a gluten-free diet for medical reasons that have nothing to do with weight.  You can learn more about what is celiac disease and what is gluten free by clicking the links.

Gluten-Free and Weight Loss

Celiac Disease

Doctors used to believe that people with celiac disease were always under weight.  That can certainly be true, but we now know that overweight people also develop celiac disease.

For someone with celiac disease, eating gluten causes damage to the lining of the small intestine.  The damage can result in weight loss because nutrients are not being absorbed by the body.  When such a person goes gluten free, they often gain weight.  The body wants to catch up.

For people who are overweight when they develop celiac disease, going gluten free sometimes helps them lose weight.  Not always by any means, but it can happen because the body is now getting what it needs and no longer needs to hold onto or store up for itself.

Measuring Tape Wrapped Around Fork

Low Carb

Cutting carbohydrates helps many people lose weight.  If the gluten-free diet is approached in a way that results in less carbs, then weight loss might naturally occur.  For example, if you cut out breads, pastas, and baked goods, you may indeed be gluten free, but you are also likely eating a lot less calories.

However, if you go gluten-free and replace breads, pasta, and baked goods with gluten-free versions, you will likely consume more calories than you did previously.  Gluten-free baking often requires added starch, oil, and sugar, which can result in weight gain for people who eat a lot of those foods.

Cravings

Food cravings are quite common, and you have probably experienced them yourself.  We often think of foods like chocolate and sugar when we think of cravings, but people also crave bread and similar foods.  This may actually be a craving for gluten.

Cutting out gluten breaks the craving cycle which can lead to weight loss and healthier eating patterns.

Amy’s weight loss story is inspiring and gives hope to anyone who has struggled with being overweight.

Young woman eating salad --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Summary

The gluten-free diet is not a weight loss diet.  It is a diet that is medically necessary for thousands of people.  It is a lifestyle change that is not easy, but people do it because the benefits to their health are more than worth the sacrifice.

Going gluten free can cause weight loss for some, weight gain for others, or have no impact on weight at all.  The important thing is whether you feel better.  It should be a diet that is embraced, not as a fad, but as a means to a healthier you.

I’m not an expert in this area, and I’m sure there are points I have left out.  I’d love to hear from you about your experience with losing or gaining weight directly related to going gluten free.

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Comments

  1. Well said! There does seem to be a lot of confusion about weight loss on a gluten free diet. In my case, I was a bit overweight when I started and I gained more weight after but my body feels better now than it did before. I’m eating more whole foods, less refined sugar and I don’t need the mega vitamins and supplements I was taking before. One day soon I imagine I’ll tackle the excess weight but for now, I’m content with feeling healthier than I’ve felt in ten years :)

    • Laureen, you said it well. Feeling healthy makes all the difference in the world. Skinny does not necessarily equal healthy or feeling good.

  2. Eileen Maser says:

    I went on J.J.Virgins diet for 1 month I only lost about 3 to 4 lbs. I have many health issues.I stayed off all 7 foods and added wheat back in,I have not felt well at all stomack pain, head ache, hand/joint swelling & pain, body & joint pain, no energy, hard to think.
    I was diagnosed w/ severe Fibromyalgia 33 years ago. At first I did not think the diet was helping ,until I added wheat back in eveything
    became worse. I am not sure if I should go see a nutritionalist or not. when I say I have no energy I awake around 10:30 and by 1 or 2 pm I am down for the count. plus my Thyroid stopped working and I have gainned about 45 to 50 lbs,. please help me .If you have any
    info. that would help it would be much appriciated. p.s. my Thyriod is ok now I am on Armour , my goitor is smaller now. Thanks Eileen

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