Eating a gluten-free diet can be one of the healthiest and most natural ways of eating. It can be the fastest way to lose weight, and can easily help to maintain weight, build muscles, and tone your body. It has the potential to be the only ‘diet’ you’ll ever need to try again to get the incredible results you’re working towards. On the other hand, a gluten-free diet can cause dietary complications, and further health problems, if tackled incorrectly. It could make you gain weight, and severely hinder your muscle growth progress. It all comes down to how you manage your diet, and which foods you choose to incorporate into your new way of eating.
Finding out that you have Celiac Disease is life changing, and it often means that a complete overhaul on your diet is necessary to facilitate healthy gastrointestinal functioning. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack not only the gluten proteins, but also the small intestine’s lining, which leads to malabsorption of nutrients as well as abdominal pain and discomfort. But this is not the only reason people decide to maintain a gluten-free diet. Some people choose a gluten-free diet as a healthy alternative to eating breads and other carbs, because they don’t fully grasp what gluten is. Since gluten is found in many wheat based products, that are often high in carbohydrates these people have found that the fastest way to lose weight is to cut out these products all together, even though the real culprit is the carbs, not the gluten.
When a person was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, or decided to go on a gluten-free diet for personal reasons in the past, they had no choice but to cut breads, cereals, pastas, and other gluten products out of their diets and replace them with whole foods, including: fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, eggs, and dairy. Their diets became substantially healthier because they cut out the majority of fat inducing carbohydrates. Those with gluten intolerances also began to feel much better because their bodies were spending less energy trying to break down proteins that were difficult for them to get rid of, so they had more energy to focus on maintaining a more healthy and active lifestyle.
Fast forward to present time and the plethora of new gluten-free food products coming out onto the market everyday. These products are manufactured processed foods made without gluten, produced to mimic the texture, and taste of their gluten filled originals. Now those wishing to maintain a gluten-free diet do not have to give up all of their favorite foods. All they have to do is change the brands and products that they buy. A gluten-free diet no longer means that people are opting for more whole foods, and less processed packaged goods. It means that the packaged foods they’re reaching for are simply made without the gluten protein.
Since the introduction of these products many people eating a gluten-free diet are finding that a gluten free diet is no longer the fastest way to lose weight. When using these foods as substitutes it’s clear that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for many gluten-free people to lose, or even maintain their weight. This is due to the fact that they are simply switching out one processed food for another, without gluten. You see, gluten is not inherently unhealthy (unless you have Celiac Disease, or a gluten intolerance). It is found in many unhealthy, carbohydrate loaded foods though, including: refined pasta, white bread, all-purpose baking flour, and cereals. Unfortunately gluten-free pasta, bread, flour, and cereal options continue to carry the high levels of carbohydrates, in addition to higher levels of calories, fat, and often times sugar.
Gluten-free processed foods like; cookies, cakes, pastas, breads, and cereals, are no healthier for you than those same processed foods that have been made with gluten, and some of them are in fact worse for your health. Since they are made to replicate the taste and texture of the gluten laden products that they are replacing, they are made with substitutes that have high glycemic indexes such as: potato starch, tapioca starch, and rice flour. These substitutions can cause many other health problems down the line, including but not limited to; hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.
Maintaining a gluten-free diet is not what you need to lose weight quickly. (Several studies have demonstrated that eliminating processed foods from your diet can be a healthy, safe, and often a quick way to lose body fat.) The healthiest, safest, and fastest way to lose weight, is to completely eliminate processed foods from your diet and incorporate real, or whole foods, as a more integral part of your dietary choices. The nutrients lost in the whole grain forms of foods that contain gluten will be made up for in the substitutions of nutrient packed whole foods. Most processed foods are unhealthy, whether they contain gluten or not, and the healthiest foods available are whole and unprocessed options. Remember that when you do buy processed foods you’ll want to look for options with lower carbohydrates, and higher protein, rather than searching for a “gluten-free” label.
“Celiac Disease.” – Mayo Clinic. May 22, 2013. Accessed January 27, 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/basics/definition/con-20030410.
Kirkpatrick, Kristin, MS, RD, LD. “The Surprising Truth About Gluten-Free Food and Weight Loss – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic.” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. April 15, 2014. Accessed January 27, 2016. http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/04/the-surprising-truth-about-gluten-free-food-and-weight-loss/.
Tallmadge, Katherine, R.D. “Go Gluten Free? Most People Shouldn’t (Op-Ed).” LiveScience. June 28, 2013. Accessed January 27, 2016. http://www.livescience.com/37855-gluten-free-craze.html.
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