My gluten free adventures began in January of 2006, at a time when gluten free was better than six years before that, but not as good as it today. With all of the hype that gluten free will help you lose weight, here is my thoughts:
To answer the question, the answers is YES and NO. When the body suffers from chronic inflammation, it is difficult to lose weight. When the body is stressed due to food sensitivities, lack of sleep, work stress, exercise is stress, perhaps throw in some relationship stress or even sitting in 2 hours of traffic daily, it is all stress which increases inflammation in the body. When the body is stressed, the hormones are not balanced which is key factor in weight loss. Balancing hormones that help to control our appetite, stress, sugar levels (not table sugar, but glucose in the body that is used for energy) is what helps keep our metabolism fired up and working for us. Let me repeat, it is balancing hormones that helps the body lose weight. When cortisol is elevated in the body, the body is actually increasing fat utilization and breaking down muscle tissue. Not a very kind hormone. So for those who are doing everything by the book and not seeing the scale budge you can thank cortisol for that.
Gluten increases gut inflammation in the body, which is whey those with Celiac or gluten sensitivity may have one or several of the 300 symptoms that occurs. Studies are showing that gluten free diets help a number of health issues. A lifetime of a bad diet, chronic stress, prescription and OTC medicines, antibiotics makes us more prone to developing a gluten sensitivity (and other food sensitivities) and when the gut is imbalanced, weight gain occurs. However, Celiacs come in all shapes and sizes, not the thin and fragile as once termed in medical books.
For those who have done the Atkins diet or any other form of “low carb” diet with huge success, most likely have a gluten sensitivity. You see, many realize the quality of our foods is less today than it was a few years ago. In fact, a wheat stalk contains 50X more gluten today than 50yrs ago! Why? It is highly processed for mass production. The fact it is in practically everything from salad dressings, taco seasonings to some chocolates makes our bodies less able to digest gluten. When we eat too much of one food group, our bodies says, slow down, I can’t process all of this, puts on the breaks and begins to back up into the body so to speak. When the body is no longer digesting it, other health ailments peak up, migraines, arthritis/joint pain, heart disease, diabetes, Crohns disease, infertility, thyroid issues, the list goes on, making food our poison more than our medicine.
It takes approximately nine months for the body to begin to heal internally and inflammation to decrease, if a strict healthy diet that is free of processed and inflammatory foods, diet that is balanced with good fats and proteins to help control blood sugars, seven hours of sleep per night and proper supplementation to help aid in healing. That is what it takes to lose weight in a nutshell. If you did not ready My Gluten Story above, it took me ten months to start losing the weight I had gained from internal inflammation, even though I felt like I was starving in the beginning, it is just how the body works sometimes.
I do feel many of us can benefit from a gluten free diet. I have found more variety being on the gluten free diet as my world of eating and cooking opened up to more legumes, veggies, and ancient grains that I personally feel are more nutritious for you than “whole wheat.”
I always recommend before going on a gluten free diet to get properly tested for Celiac disease (anti-gliadin, AGA, or tissue transglutaminase antibodies, TTG). I wish it would become more of the standard form of blood work these days, especially if someone suffers from any type of autoimmune disease and infertility. Even if you test negative to the blood tests, go on a strict gluten free diet for 21 days. After that just go and eat your favorite gluten free food and note how you feel. If your symptoms come back and you feel terrible, you have your answers. Often, you may notice a 3-5lb spike in your weight, this is a sign of inflammation and water retention from eating a food that your body did not like.
If you want more scientific terms on why wheat is making us more fat, check out Dr. Mark Hyman’s blog on Three Hidden Ways Wheat Makes You Fat