What is gluten?

Gluten is a type of complex protein. Unlike other common proteins, gluten mostly occurs in certain carbohydrates. Wheat, rye etc are rich in gluten. Gluten is an essential component of any bread. It is the reason why bread rises and gains a chewy texture. Gluten makes the bread stretchy.

What foods are rich in gluten?

Although gluten is most commonly found in wheat, there are many other foods which contain significant quantities of gluten. Some examples are as follows:

  • Since gluten is one of the main ingredients in wheat, all products containing wheat are rich sources of wheat. These include all bread, cakes, pasta, cookies, donuts, flour, spaghetti, biscuits, waffles, bagels and many more.
  • Apart from wheat, few other cereals also contain significant quantities of gluten. These include grains like barley and farina.
  • In foods which do not naturally contain gluten, it is added for a number of purposes. Gluten is a thickening agent and used widely in sauces, ice creams, puddings and gravy.
  • Almost all refined and processed foods contain gluten. Examples include pizza, salami, sausages, soups, chips, hamburger etc.

So, you can see that gluten is a very common component in many common foods. If you are thinking of adopting a gluten free diet , then you should know that you may have to do without some of your favorite foods.

What gluten free foods can you include in your diet?

  • The list of foods containing gluten is a long one. So, if you are considering a diet free of gluten, you need to know what foods you can include in your daily diet.
  • Although gluten is commonly found in cereals, it is not present in every cereal. Rice, quinoa, amaranth, millets etc are excellent gluten free alternatives.
  • Yams, potatoes, arrowroot, sorghum etc are good sources of starch free of gluten.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables do not contain gluten and so can easily be included in your diet.
  • Lean animal proteins are also free of gluten. However, they should not be baked which adds gluten to the preparation.
  • Nuts and legumes can be eaten in a gluten diet.
  • Finally, in recent days, gluten free breads, biscuits, cereals and desserts have been introduced in the market. However, in many cases, though they are labeled free of gluten, they do contain a small quantity of gluten.

How can gluten free diet help in weight loss?

Although people from various walks of life say that gluten free diet is ideal for weight loss, it requires some in depth analysis before you switch to such a diet. Here are some points that you should consider:

  • According to the American dietetic association, there is no proven gluten free diet for weight loss. Little research has been made in this connection. So, there are no statistical data to prove or disprove no gluten for weight loss .
  • Some people suffer from gluten intolerance and gluten allergy. They have to eat a gluten free diet in order to stay fit and in good health. An extreme form of gluten related disorder is the celiac disease. This is a form of immune disorder where the intestine can not absorb the nutrition which is present in the food that you eat. Celiac disease is aggravated by gluten intake.
  • Apart from the people who are suffering from intolerance and other similar disorders, gluten probably plays an indirect role in weight loss. If you examine the list of gluten rich foods, you will see that they are also high calories and sugar which lead to weight loss. So, if you avoid gluten rich foods, you are actually avoiding processed foods which add a lot of needless calories to your diet. As a result, you will obviously lose weight.
  • A few studies have been conducted. They reveal that if you go on a no gluten diet, you are actually opting for healthier food choices. As a result, you may lose an average of 15 to twenty pounds of your body weight at the end of the first month of your gluten free diet.
  • According to one research, no matter how tall you are, eating gluten rich foods continuously will make you heavier and bulkier.
  • While scientific evidence of no gluten for weight loss is still being collected, there are a number of comprehensive studies which show that overweight people who are suffering from celiac disease enjoy definite benefit from a diet free of gluten. A clear trend of weight loss can be seen in them.
  • The fact is that gluten itself is not causing any significant increase in your weight. So, eliminating gluten is not likely to have a severe impact on your weight. However, the gluten rich foods also tend to be rich in salt, fats and calories. So, when you avoid them consistently, a noticeable difference is seen in your weight.
  • You need to be careful about what foods you choose to replace the gluten rich food that you are eliminating from your diet. These free of gluten substitutes actually may contain higher calories. At the same time, replacing wheat cereal with refined cereals may affect your nutrition because these are often not enriched with added nutrition. In these cases, a diet free of gluten will not be helpful for you in losing weight.
  • In fact, except in celiac, gluten free diet exercises little direct influence on weight. But, it does have a lot of indirect influence. So, if you can stick to gluten free healthy alternatives for long time, you are bound to notice a loss in weight.

Source by Trevor M Hall