What is Gluten-Free? What Are The Benefits? What Are The Downsides?

nutrition Oct 22, 2018

I hear this a lot, “I went gluten-free and lost weight, that must be it!

How many times have you heard this or even experienced this yourself?

I see so many people try one thing, see success and think that that’s the answer or solution they’ve been looking for. So they cut it out completely and don’t change anything else.

Before I explain what gluten-free is and who can benefit from going gluten-free, I want to emphasize the importance of whole food nutrition first.

Anyone can find a diet trend, try it and see results but we all want sustainable results, right?

So how do you get there?

No matter what you do or try, it will always come back to your nutrition, “you are what you eat”.

Personally, I teach and follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, you should be eating clean whole foods and 20% of the time can be your fun foods.

I see so many of my clients and myself get sustainable results by using this rule or guideline I should say, because nobody likes rules. They’re also able to enjoy life without dieting or beating themselves up over a brownie they had at dinner.

Start with whole food nutrition first and then experiment different options if that isn’t working.

What is Gluten-Free?

Now, let’s talk about gluten-free, what it is, who can benefit from going gluten-free and also the downsides of going gluten-free.

Gluten-free means that you are eliminating gluten from your diet.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, simple as that.

Who Can Benefit From Going Gluten-Free?

My first answer would be those who have celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten can lead to damage in the small intestine. Those with this disease can experience serious symptoms of:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and Muscle Pain
  • Rapid Weight Loss
  • Anemia
  • Depression
  • Rashes

My second answer would be those who may have a gluten sensitivity, like myself.

When I was younger (5 years ago) I was tired all the time, had headaches a lot and would have episodes where I was so bloated, constipated and in pain, I looked like I was 6 months pregnant and my belly was hard as a rock.

I was actually diagnosed with chronic constipation, whatever that meant. When I was first told this, I was like, “great how do I fix it”. Of course, they gave me medicine and me not knowing anything about nutrition, I thought that was the only thing that would work.

I think it was a year later I started looking into nutrition more and tried doing an elimination diet of gluten and dairy (we’ll talk about dairy another time), and I found that a lot of my symptoms were going away without medicine! Crazy, I know!

So I stuck with it for a few years and to this day am still gluten and dairy-free, 90% of the time, because not every place is gluten or dairy-free friendly and I still love my pizza and pasta.

I realized that I had a gluten sensitivity when I started adding gluten back into my diet here and there. I would notice that my joints would ache really bad after eating gluten (pasta, cereal, bread, etc.) and I would be super bloated and tired the rest of the day.

I’m to a point where I can time it at just about 2-3 hours after, my stomach will start to make those weird noises and my stomach would start hurting.

I do believe a lot of people can benefit from going gluten-free, however, a gluten-free diet is essential for those with celiac disease and those with a gluten sensitivity.

So let’s say you have a few of the symptoms (maybe 2 or more) previously mentioned, yet it’s not to an extreme, well maybe you might have a sensitivity to gluten.

I’d say if you have consistently been eating a whole food diet for at least 6 months and are still having these symptoms, then try eliminating gluten to see if that helps relieve anything.

But, and this is a big but! If you don’t have any of these symptoms and are just going gluten-free to lose weight, you won’t benefit much from it and will end up wasting your money because these foods are more expensive.

What Are The Downsides of Going Gluten-Free?

I do want to talk about the downsides of going gluten-free and what you need to look out for.

Just because it says “gluten-free” does NOT mean it’s healthy.

I also see people going gluten-free thinking they can have the bread, crackers, chips, etc. because it says gluten-free so it must be healthy.

After all, that’s how society and the media have portrayed gluten-free. Gluten-free is the new healthy.

NOPE, not at all! In fact, some could argue it’s the opposite and here’s why.

In order to take out an ingredient, there has to be a replacement.

For gluten, that tends to be sugar, xanthan gum, corn and other ingredients to make up for the texture and taste.

A lot of gluten-free items have a higher glycemic index (more on this later), but what that means is they have a higher ranking of carbohydrates, which spike your blood sugar levels and that is what we want to avoid when trying to lose weight and burn fat.

So if you are gluten-free or decide to go gluten-free, stick to your whole food diet as much as you can. So that means fruits, veggies, lean meats, beans, legumes, etc and IF you decide you want pasta or a piece of bread then go for the gluten-free option. Don’t think that just because it’s gluten-free it makes up for the healthy factor.

Just to give you an example, I love my pasta but do I have that every night just because it’s gluten-free? No, because it’s still pasta!

Know what you’re eating and why you should or shouldn’t be eating it.

If you’re at a point where you don’t really know where to start or what to eat, click HERE and let’s chat. We’ll take a look to see what your goals are, what you’re doing to get there and how I can support you.

Thanks for reading!



Courtney Marie


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