I’m going on a gluten free diet to lose weight! That’s a statement made by celebrities and normal folks as they jump on the band wagon to use a gluten-free diet. Is this fact or fantasy?
One of the investments I owned through my private equity company was a commercial bakery that made sports nutrition products. As such, I became aware of the issue of “gluten free” diets and their impact on some people.
Increasingly, celebrities are hawking this, most notably Suzanne Summers who likes to promote a gluten free diet, and egg free diet, and blames most folks obesity on their consumption of gluten. Ok what is this? What’s the reality?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat products and barley. In the baking process it causes breads to rise, and to have their texture. Gluten is also used as the meat substitute in that it has the unique property of taking on the taste of what’s surrounding it, and it can be formulated to be harder to the mouth sensation. So, drop gluten in chicken broth and it will taste like chicken, and have a texture approaching chicken. A lot of Vegan diets are based on substituting animal proteins with this non-animal protein.
There’s a lot made of the changes that have been made to agricultural products over the past decades. There have been significant changes to increase crop production, and in the wheat products that has limited the numbers of varieties of wheat’s and changed some of the dynamics of the gluten product. As a result, there is some increased incidence of gluten. In reality, about 1% of the population suffers from straight out gluten allergies, specifically those with Celiac disease which affects their bodies ability to process gluten so it stores it in the fat.
But for the other 99%, the notion that eliminating gluten from your diet is some magical weight loss cure is less than the whole truth. Weight loss occurs when you consume less calories than you burn. So if you eat 3,500 calories a day from a gluten free, sugar free, non gmo food product, and you only burn 2,000 calories a day, you will gain weight. On the other side, if you burn 2,500 calories a day because you start working out, and you cut your consumption to 2,000 calories a day, you will lose weight. It takes about 3,500 calories added or subtracted to gain or lose a pound. So, if you smartly change your behavior and start consuming say 500 calories per day less than you’re burning; you’ll lose 1 lb. in one week. Be aware though, if you “shock” your system and stop eating, you won’t lose weight. Your body will simply slow its metabolism or burn rate to accommodate. Further, it will store any consumed calories as fat which is a better survival strategy than storing it as muscle.
So, is a gluten free diet right for you? Clearly, if you are in the 1% that has celiac disease you should discontinue using gluten based products. No more Famous Amos cookies for you! But for most of us, eating healthy and losing weight, or maintaining weight, is more a function of over all food consumption and calorie burn. It’s a little off this topic but there is a discussion about the impact on us from genetically modified foods, in a future SBG Cast I’ll look into this.
Eat well, eat healthy and yes, do be conscious of the foods you eat.