Losing Weight on a Gluten Free Diet
A gluten-free diet is not necessarily a weight-loss diet. In fact, if you’re not careful, you could actually gain weight once you go gluten-free. It is possible to lose weight while on a gluten-free diet, but you will need to follow some guidelines.
Beware of Hidden Fat and Sugar
Ready-to-eat gluten-free products can be useful for those who choose to live gluten-free, but it is important to read food labels carefully to see exactly what you’re eating. Gluten-free processed foods, such as cookies, crackers, breads, cereals and desserts, present some of the same problems that low-fat and nonfat products did when they became popular. Many people felt cheated or tricked when they found out that some of these products had more sugar and calories than the full-fat versions. Similarly, many gluten-free processed foods contain a great deal of both sugar and fat to enhance taste and improve texture.
Watch Out for Overeating
It’s easy to unintentionally eat too much of foods that we perceive as being healthy. You may have run into this problem when “100-calorie” snack packets hit the shelves, or when you found out that healthy smoothies were packed with calories and needed to be eaten as a treat rather than a daily staple. Many of us believe more is better and eat more in general. Some studies have shown that overeating alone can account for the obesity epidemic in America.
Be Sure to Eat Frequently
Skipping meals lowers your blood sugar and raises your insulin levels. This creates cravings for quick-fix carbohydrates, which you’re probably used to getting from things like cereal, bread, fruit and grain bars, cookies and other foods made from the easily absorbed carbohydrates contained in grains.
By eating at least every two hours or so, you can avoid many of these carbohydrate cravings and increase your chances of losing weight on a gluten-free diet.
Get Plenty of Fiber
If you’ve been getting most of your fiber from healthy, whole-grain cereals and breads, you’re going to need to increase your plant fiber intake. Overall, plant fiber has been shown to be a healthier fiber choice than the fiber from grains.
Be sure to eat plenty of the most fibrous fruits and vegetables, including apples, mangoes, papaya, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and celery. Plant foods contain soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (doesn’t dissolve in water) fiber, and both are real powerhouses. As long as you eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, you’ll keep your fiber intake at a healthy level. If you’re one of those people who have trouble getting enough fruits and veggies, consider adding psyllium husk to smoothies, shakes, baked goods and even scrambled eggs.
Get Plenty of Protein
Breads, pasta and cereals make up a huge chunk of the daily calories most Americans eat. If you cut them from your diet and don’t replace them with gluten-free options, you’re likely to cut your calories way down, too. If you find yourself feeling hungry frequently, take a look at your calorie intake and make sure you’re eating enough. Protein will help you feel satisfied. Make sure you eat plenty of healthy protein, such as lean meats, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy (if you can have it). You’ll increase calories in a healthy way and the protein will make you feel full longer than the empty calories of fats or carbohydrates
Drink Plenty of Water
Dieters get tired of hearing about how they need to drink plenty of water, but water aids digestion, helps you feel full and even helps your body get rid of excess stored fat. Going gluten-free means changes to your digestive system — changes that will be helped along by getting adequate water (64 ounces a day — more if you work out or spend much time outdoors).
DID YOU KNOW? Don’t be fooled into thinking you need less water during the colder months. Your lungs absorb water as well as oxygen, and when the humidity is lower, so is your water intake through respiration. You’ll also need to be sure to drink extra water if you’re at a high altitude (more than 3000 feet above sea level), if you fly or if you’re under more than usual stress.
Don’t be discouraged or assume that your weight loss goals will have to be put on hold if you go on a gluten-free diet. As long as you follow these guidelines, eat sensibly and get plenty of exercise, you can lose weight on a gluten-free diet.