Gluten Free Diets
Gluten Free Diets
One of the most common questions I get from my personal training clients lately is, “Should I eliminate gluten from my diet?” It has become the latest trend to go gluten free. At the grocery store entire sections market gluten free foods and restaurants offer gluten free dishes on their menus. More and more people are choosing to eliminate gluten from their diets in an effort to lose weight. But recognizing what gluten is and why a person would exclude it is important to understand before eliminating gluten from the diet.
- What is gluten? Gluten is a protein that is found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. It is commonly used as a processed food filler and is not just found in bread but is present in cereals, pastries, beer, pasta, salad dressings, sauces and soups to name a few.
- Who should avoid gluten? There is a small population of people who suffer from an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease. People who have celiac disease and eat gluten suffer from damage to the small intestines. Their bodies produce an immune response that leads to an attack on the small intestines that hinders the absorption of vital nutrients the body needs to function properly. This can lead to anemia, osteoporosis and increases the risk of lymphoma. About 1 in 100 people have celiac disease and should eliminate gluten from their diet to avoid health risks that can be detrimental to their wellbeing.
- Will eliminating gluten aid in weight loss? A gluten free diet is not meant to be a weight loss diet. People may experience weight loss if they incorporate fresh foods that are unprocessed but this is not due to the elimination of gluten. Substituting gluten free processed foods (cookies, pastas, crackers, etc.) may actually lead to weight gain due to the fact that extra fats and sugar are added to compensate for changes in the texture of food and to enhance flavor. Many gluten free processed foods also lack vitamins, minerals and fiber that the body needs.
For people who are diagnosed and suffer from celiac disease, avoiding gluten is absolutely necessary for promoting and maintaining their health but the general population does not need to substitute with gluten free products. The best way to lose weight is to follow a healthy diet that incorporates whole, natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains and partake regularly in a strength training and cardiovascular routine.
For more information on gluten free diets, working out, eating right, and general health and fitness, or if you’ve been thinking about hiring a personal trainer, contact us.