There are the photos of Miley's skinny frame, Gwenyth's GOOP posts, and Stacy Keibler's recent 21-day cleanse. All celebrity testimonials of weight loss on a gluten free diet. But for the rest of us living day to day in the real world, does a gluten free diet promote weight loss?
Weight fluctuations are common in celiac patients as they adjust to the gluten free diet. Prior to going gluten free, many celiacs ate unusual quantities of food to compensate for the poor absorption of nutrients by their intestines. As their intestines heal, they continue to eat these large quantities of food only to result in weight gain. I recall shortly after my celiac disease diagnosis, my gastroenterologist advised that I should expect to gain 2-3 pounds, at most, once my intestines have started healing and my body was absorbing nutrients again. I was losing weight prior to diagnosis, and did get back those 2-3 pounds. While the numbers on the scale have remained pretty much the same in the nearly 5 years I've been gluten free, I do feel and look leaner. The inflammation is reduced and hence the overall puffiness I had pre-diagnosis.
Interesting research coming out of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center this past year points to the ups and downs of following a gluten free diet after diagnosis of Celiac Disease. As reported on celiac.com, researchers looked at 1018 patients with confirmed celiac disease, tracking their BMI over roughly a 3 year period. Although participants were significantly less likely to be overweight or obese in comparison to the general population, they found that celiac patients' BMI increased over time with adherence to the gluten free diet.
There are a wealth of gluten free products available on the market today, which is a bit of a mixed blessing for celiacs. Many of these gluten free items are higher in calories and lower in nutrients than their gluten containing counterparts because the gluten has been replaced with fats and sugar. One of the first gluten free bagels I tried measured half the size of a gluten filled bagel and came in at over 300 calories and 10 grams of fat.
There are ways to lose weight on a gluten free diet, but it ultimately comes down to calories in and calories out. Eating mindfully and exercising are just as important for preventing weight gain on a gluten free diet as on a traditional diet. Choosing whole foods that are naturally gluten free - think fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and certain grains - and limiting processed foods are the way to go.
Looking for some ideas to kick up your exercise routine? Check out my post on Shaun T's Insanity program.
The University of Chicago will be covering this very topic and many others related to celiac disease this September at the International Symposium on Celiac Research.
What are some ways you've been able to stay fit and trim on a gluten free diet? Leave a comment and let me know. I'd love to hear your ideas.
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