Going on a Gluten Free Diet may assist Weight Loss
Although there has been much controversy over whether a gluten free diet can help you lose weight, there is some evidence that the diet can help shed pounds. Additionally, several medical studies have indicated that people diagnosed with celiac disease have a tendency to lose weight when they follow a gluten-free regime.
Some doctors have found that dropping wheat from the diet can result in a 15 to 20 pound weight loss within the first month, and there are differing opinions on why this diet works. Some experts wonder if there is something in wheat or gluten-based foods that make people overeat. According to cardiologist William Davis, MD, author of the book "Wheat Belly", his observations of patients in his practice has led him to believe that people tend to eat more when wheat is included in their diet, and that they can drop a lot of weight by eliminating this one food group. Weight Loss in Celiacs
It has been fairly indisputably shown that overweight people with celiac disease lose weight on a gluten-free diet, with weight loss most extreme in those who were classified as obese when they were diagnosed.
One study of 191 celiacs ranging from underweight through normal and obese found that 91 patients gained an average of 16.5 pounds while on the diet. However, 25 patients lost an average of 27.5 pounds, and these tended to be the folks who were obese when diagnosed. Overall, it could just be that weight normalizes when patients go gluten-free, and one study of 369 celiacs bore this out; those who were underweight gained poundage, and those who were overweight lost.
A third study followed two groups of celiac patients on a gluten-free diet, except that one group stuck to the diet and one group cheated. The numbers showed that the "cheaters" ate an average of 418 more calories a day than those who remained gluten-free.
Can Gluten Free Help You Lose Weight if You Don't Have Celiac Disease?
Dr. Davis says that it's not only celiacs who can reap the weight-loss benefits of a gluten-free diet, and he claims that eliminating wheat from the diet can lead to weight loss for anyone. According to the doctor, it's not just the gluten protein in wheat that causes weight gain, but that wheat contains harmful protein and starch compounds. He believes that eating wheat causes the body to manufacture very high levels of insulin, the hormone that transfers sugar from the bloodstream into the body's cells. High insulin levels cause belly fat as well as the hunger caused by low blood sugar. This sudden hunger causes you to reach for a quick, and probably carbohydrate-loaded, snack.
Dr. Davis theorizes that removing wheat from the diet can break the cycle of high insulin, low blood sugar and fattening snacking. The resulting lower calorie intake leads to weight loss, with the first month seeing the highest loss of 15 to 20 pounds. Significantly, the largest loss tends to be around the abdomen, though some may be water weight.
More weight will be loss if foods containing gluten are not replaced with fattening gluten-free products. He advises that people simply drop most or all grain-based products from their diet, as well as sugary foods. Not only can anyone lose weight by following this regime, but they will also lower their risk of heart disease.
China Study of Wheat's Role in Weight Gain
According to raw food / Paleo diet blogger Denise Minger, there is further evidence of wheat's role in causing weight gain. In "The China Study", written by T. Collin Campbell, the author outlines the results of his epidemiological study of diet and disease of the inhabitants of some 65 rural Chinese counties. Ms. Minger took the raw data from this book, crunched the numbers on wheat and body size, and discovered that wheat consumption is the strongest predictor of body weight, and that the numbers also correlate with body mass index. In other words, no matter how tall you are, the more wheat you eat, the more you'll weigh.
Done Properly, Gluten-Free Can Help You Lose Weight
Looking at the facts, we can see that:
- If you have celiac disease and are overweight or obese at the time of diagnosis, you will probably lose some weight by following a gluten-free diet.
- If you don't have celiac disease, you may or may not lose weight. There's no definitive proof that the diet works in this case.
- If you do follow the gluten free diet, you're unlikely to lose weight unless you follow the diet without replacing wheat-based foods with fattening, non-nutritious gluten-free replacement products.
Dr. David also advises reducing or eliminating all starchy, sugary carbohydrates, although he still considers wheat the main culprit in the cycle of high blood sugars and carb-rich snacks. This means eliminating foods like potatoes, all grain products and sugars.
If you want to lose weight on a gluten-free diet, Dr. Davis advises avoiding gluten-free products and sticking to fresh veggies, lean meats, cheese, eggs, nuts and some fruit.