Gluten And Weight Loss

What is Gluten? The devil… obviously. Or so we’ve been lead to believe by the media.

It’s actually just a type of protein that is found in large amounts in wheat and some grains that most people can eat sensibly without any concern or consequence whatsoever.

Who should minimise or avoid gluten containing products?

People with celiacs disease cannot tolerate it BUT less than 1% of the population (0.71%) are celiacs and their stomach cannot process gluten in any amount (Damaging the Villi [they help with micronutrient absorption] ) otherwise they face very painful symptoms. 

But what about the other 99% of the population? 

Well, non celiac gluten sensitivity is real thing, and people who do find they are sensitive to gluten should keep a close eye on the portions of gluten they consume as to best manage their symptoms, which is typically digestive discomfort such as bloating and gas.  

Does celiac disease and gluten sensitivity explain why there is an entire aisle in supermarkets dedicated to gluten free cookies, pastas, muesli bars and chips… and why people cut it out in an attempt to be healthy?  

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Hell, people even remove gluten for weight loss purposes. Let’s tackle the supermarket items first then move to gluten and weight loss.

A study done in 2012 by the ’National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’ concluded that only 4.2% of the population are gluten sensitive. That’s right ONLY a combined 4.2% with celiac disease and those with gluten sensitivity, that makes up 4.73 people in every 100 people who should medically avoid or minimise gluten. 

There is no other medical or ethical reason for avoiding it. NONE!  

Clearly the answer is NO… this does NOT explain why there is an entire section or aisle in your supermarket dedicated to gluten free products. So how can this be explained?  

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 Mass media has demonised gluten as dangerous and as a contributor to weight gain. It has now been publicly accepted and used as an effective marketing tool to sell food products.  

But why you ask?  

If the public believes that a particular product is free from something that they believe to be harmful to their health and/or weight  management, they will pay a premium for that product. The consumer thinks they have won by buying a food they believe to be beneficial to them in some way, and the companies selling these products win because they’ve managed to make their consumers pay more.  

Who really loses?

YOU. The consumer who is not celiac or does not in fact have non celiac gluten sensitivity.  

Now let’s visit the question ‘will removing gluten help me lose weight?’.  

The short answer: HELL NO, but maybe. Now let’s unpack that quickly.  

Your CALORIE BALANCE affects your body weight, and the macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats) that make up your calories determine your body composition. If you are removing gluten but still eating the same amount of calories, your weight will remain unchanged.  

Where some people get led astray is when they cut out all products containing gluten and lose weight… they then attribute that weight loss to removing gluten. I.e They think the gluten and weight loss have a CAUSATIVE relationship when in actual fact they have a CORRELATIVE relationship. 

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Where some people get led astray is when they cut out all products containing gluten and lose weight… they then attribute that weight loss to removing gluten. I.e They think the gluten and weight loss have a CAUSATIVE relationship when in actual fact they have a CORRELATIVE relationship. 

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In actual fact, when people remove products containing gluten and do not replace those calories with anything else, or 
they do replace it with foods containing LESS calories, they lose weight but ONLY because they have REDUCED THEIR TOTAL DAILY CALORIE CONSUMPTION. If this test person continued eating gluten containing products but removed calories from their diet somewhere else (like swapped high calorie meats for lean meats or full fat dairy to low fat) the same result would have occured.  

Hating on gluten is no new phenomena. Throughout history, the nutrition and marketing industry always pick on something. From a ‘no salt’ diet to a ‘high fibre’ diet and everything in between.  

In reality, it’s not about what we DON’T eat (no gluten, for example) but what we DO eat.  

Keeping calories under control is the only long term solution we can ever have to weight management, which is where regular exercise and a sensible intake of food is so important. Try overeating calories on fresh vegetables - you’ll likely get a jaw cramp from all that chewing before you accomplish your mission.  

Moral of the story: If you are not celiac and or don’t suffer from non celiac gluten sensitivity, then carry on eating your gluten Kids!  

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Diet Smart. Not Hard.

Coach Lizzy