The short answer is – it depends. Read on, and I’ll explain why.
Going gluten-free has been a huge trend for the past couple years, with tons of people giving up gluten to lose weight or address a variety of medical issues. A small percentage of these people actually have celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder which results in intestinal damage caused by the ingestion of gluten. Obviously, it totally makes sense for those with celiac disease to give up gluten. But does it make sense to give up gluten if you don’t have celiac disease?
Well, if you plan on simply replacing your normal bread, muffins, cookies, and other baked goods with gluten-free versions of these foods, the answer is NO. Often, gluten-free baked goods contain more calories, fat, and sugar than regular gluten-containing baked goods. So, eating these types of foods will actually cause you to gain weight. In addition, many gluten-free products are lacking in certain vitamins and minerals that are important to health (i.e. folic acid, iron), contain increased levels of arsenic, and are more expensive.
On the other hand, if you replace gluten-containing foods in your diet with higher nutrient, lower calorie foods (vs. replacing them with gluten-free foods), it CAN help you lose weight. For example, if you reduce the amount of baked goods you eat (such as muffins, cookies, rolls, and bread) and replace those foods with lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy, you can definitely expect to lose weight. That is because you will be taking in less calories, sugar, and fat.
However, it is my opinion that it is not necessary to eliminate ALL gluten-containing foods from your diet to lose weight. Whole grains contain a variety of important vitamins and minerals, and they help provide a feeling of satiety that you can’t get from veggies and meat. So, I think eating a moderate amount of healthy carbs can actually help you stick with your weight loss program in the long-run. I’ve seen A LOT of people cut carbs completely out of their diets, lose a bunch of weight, and quickly gain it back (and then some) when they couldn’t stand such a restrictive diet anymore.
So, if you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, by all means go on a gluten-free diet! However, if you are looking to lose weight, pass up the gluten-free baked goods at your store. Instead, reduce the amount of baked goods you eat overall and stick with a moderate amount of healthy, whole-grain carbs. Need some inspiration on foods that will help you lose weight? Check out Happy Dieter’s Top 10 Favorite Foods.