The paleo diet focuses on encouraging a gluten free lifestyle, especially with regards to paleo weight loss. Aside from many of the paleo guru’s around, you’ve probably even heard about celebs like Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow advocating the benefits of going gluten free. Not to mention the dozens of new products that have appeared on the shelves of your local supermarket. AND you’ve seen gluten-free options appearing on restaurant menus and in bakeries. With all this song and dance, you may have stopped at some point to ponder the legitimacy of going gluten free – especially since recent media articles claiming that gluten free is simply just another “food fad” and that non-celiac gluten sensitivity doesn’t actually exist. In this article, we are going to explore WHY a gluten-free diet for paleo weight loss and optimum health is a wise and choice. Ultimately, a gluten-free lifestyle could help you lose weight and drastically improve your health.
The term “gluten free” does not automatically mean “healthier.” Nor will avoiding gluten itself necessarily result in weight loss. To be honest, if you follow the advice of many gluten-free “gurus”, it could increase your chances of gaining weight and heighten your risk of getting sick.
A recent study performed by the NPD Group revealed that about 100 million people in the USA are consciously seeking to eat gluten-free foods. Nearly two-thirds of those people believe that eating a gluten-free diet is a “healthier” option. And nearly one-third believe that it will help them “lose weight.”
How does gluten affect your health and your weight?
Simply put, gluten is a protein found in grains, such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt and kamut. Millions of people around the world are unable to stomach this protein. Those suffering from celiac disease, consuming even the teeniest amount of gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that often results in seriously unpleasant symptoms like severe stomach pain, damage to the gastrointestinal tract, systemic inflammation, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and a host of other painful and debilitating symptoms.
- A review in the New England Journal of Medicine linked gluten to 55 conditions, including chronic fatigue, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, osteoporosis, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, ADHD, and even cancer.
- Another study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that people diagnosed with gut inflammation had a 72 percent increased risk of death (mostly from heart disease and cancer), while those with gluten sensitivity had a 35 percent increased risk.
Why Bread, Pasta and Cereal Are not natural to human genes
The standard daily meal of our ancestors would normally include fresh-picked greens, berries, nuts, seeds, eggs and anything they could catch or kill. But with the advent of agriculture and the Industrial Revolution, grain-based foods (not previously on the menu) began to fill our plates.b Today, the average person consumes grains and gluten at nearly every meal… cereal and toast for breakfast… a sandwich at lunch… a granola bar for a snack… pasta for dinner and so on. Our genes have changed very little from those of our Paleo ancestors. And most of us haven’t developed the capacity to handle proteins such as gluten.
Will going gluten free help with paleo weight loss?
Being completely sincere, there is nothing inherent about gluten that will cause you to gain or lose weight. However, grains are a high glycemic food. They stimulate the production of insulin – your body’s fat-storing hormone. The more bread, pasta, cereal and flour you eat, the more likely you will gain weight. In other words, the more wheat you eat, the heavier you are, regardless of height.
So, while it has little or nothing to do with gluten itself, a gluten-free diet CAN help you lose weight.
But that’s not the way it works for most people.
One of the biggest complaints about the gluten-free diet is that people have a hard time losing weight. Many people actually GAIN weight on a “gluten-free” diet.
The truth about Gluten-Free foods
Most store bought gluten-free foods are no healthier than their “gluten” counterparts. The majority of these foods are highly processed and contain large amounts of chemicals and preservatives. Something you need to take into consideration if your goal is paleo weight loss. But that’s not even the worst part.
Gluten-free packaged foods, such as bread, pasta, biscuits, crackers and cakes, normally have an equally high glycemic index as their wheat-based counterparts. Basically, they sabotage your blood-sugar regulation system just as much as wheat does. The same goes for the bread and dessert recipes on most “gluten-free” food blogs.
And if these foods are not sweetened with harmful chemicals like artificial sweetners aspartame, they usually contain excess amounts of sugar, agave syrup, or even corn syrup. In other words, the exact same ingredients that promote inflammation, weight gain and blood sugar issues in the foods that contain gluten! Paleo weight loss friendly? we think not!