Over the past years, there has been a rise in the number of celebrities and health bloggers promoting the use of a gluten-free diet for weight loss purposes, and claimants say it improves digestion and boosts energy levels, but does scientific evidence support these testimonies, according to an article published by Live Science.
Gluten is a protein mostly found in grains such as wheat and barley. It is known to inflame and damage the intestines of people with celiac disease.
For those with gluten sensitivity, it can cause symptoms such as bloating, gas and diarrhea.
A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for these conditions, but in general, gluten does not pose any danger and there is no reason to avoid it.
In a report published in Pediatrics, researchers note that there is no evidence that gluten-free diets can provide any significant health benefits for those without problems digesting gluten.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, major sources of gluten include grains such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats, as well as their derivatives such as barley, yeast and wheat starch. Therefore, people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity need to avoid many common foodstuffs, including pasta, bread, baked goods and breakfast cereals.
Gluten is also commonly found in sauces and condiments, especially soy sauce and malt vinegar. Food manufacturers also use it as an additive or filler. In these cases, it is usually listed on labels under names such as maltodextrin or wheat starch.
Weight loss (iStock)
gluten and weight loss
Because gluten-free alternatives tend to be expensive and difficult to obtain, a typical gluten-free diet typically consists of whole foods that are naturally gluten-free, including fruits, vegetables, and gluten-free grains such as brown rice, quinoa and millet.
Eliminating foods that are high in simple carbohydrates and replacing them with foods high in fiber that are less processed can help promote weight loss and a sense of well-being.
Anecdotal evidence from clinical practices suggests that celiac patients who switch to a gluten-free diet may find that they lose weight more easily.
For her part, Dr. Sophie Medellin, a nutrition consultant, said, “What usually happens if someone avoids gluten is that they limit carbohydrates and therefore end up losing weight,” explaining that it is not related to gluten, but rather due to the restricted diet, which leads to weight loss. to losing weight.
In addition, research studies show mixed results, with several papers finding that cutting out gluten can actually contribute to weight gain. According to a study published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, a gluten-free diet caused weight gain, while 22% of patients who were already overweight gained more weight.
A similar study from the American Journal of Gastroenterology showed that 81% of celiac patients gain weight after two years of following a gluten-free diet.
Meanwhile, researchers discovered, in a study published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine and Clinical Gastroenterology, that eliminating gluten may have a beneficial effect on BMI, both for underweight and obese people. A 2013 animal study found that a gluten-free diet can increase fat burning capabilities as well as reduce insulin resistance and inflammation within adipose tissue. However, human studies are still needed to confirm these results.
The secret of the stark differences
Scientists suspect that the reason for these stark differences is that at diagnosis, most celiac patients were overweight and did not have a good understanding of healthy nutrition. Gluten adds texture, structure, aroma and mouthfeel to baked products. To mimic the functional and sensory effects of gluten, many gluten-free products can be enriched with less healthful ingredients.
“Food manufacturers have to add more fat, sugar and additives to make food taste bland and look like it contains gluten,” says Dr. Medellin, explaining that gluten-free food is “in no way associated with being more healthful.”
Medical professionals are also concerned that gluten-free diets can lead to potential nutrient deficiencies. “My main concern is how one gets back the major complex carbohydrate sources that are eliminated from their meals,” says Dr. Wasserman. “Some gluten-free diets can also be deprived of B vitamins, fiber, folate, calcium and iron found in carbohydrates,” she adds.
Protein and magnesium
According to a scientific review, published in the journal Nutrients, cutting out gluten can lead to significant reductions in your intake of protein, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, folate and sodium. That’s why Dr. Medellin advises: “If a person does not have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, they should “never completely abstain from gluten.”
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