Amidst all this fanfare, you may wonder if “going gluten free” is just another food fad… or if it could be the path to a better body and healthier life. Lets see why a gluten-free diet is a wise and healthy choice. A gluten-free lifestyle could help you lose weight effortlessly and dramatically improve your health, but, a word of warning…
The term “gluten free” does not automatically equate to “healthier.” Nor will avoiding gluten itself necessarily lead to weight loss. In fact, if you follow the advice of many gluten-free gurus, it could increase your chances of gaining weight and raise your risk for disease.
So, what is gluten? And how can it affect your health and your weight?
Gluten is a protein found in grains, such as wheat, barley and rye.. and in most cases people cannot stomach this protein (literally). For those with celiac disease, even the tiniest amount of gluten triggers an auto-immune reaction that could result in severe stomach pain, damage to the gastrointestinal tract, systemic inflammation, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and a host of other painful and debilitating symptoms.
However, until very recently, the notion that gluten could have negative effects on people without celiac disease was denied by mainstream medicine.
But the evidence is mounting…
- A review in the New England Journal of Medicine linked gluten to 55 conditions, including chronic fatigue, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, osteoporosis, anaemia, 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 Don’t Fit in Your Genes
Twelve thousand years ago our ancestors hunted and foraged to survive. The meal of the day included 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.
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 and rolls at dinner.
And while 12,000 years might seem like a long time, it is the blink of an eye in evolutionary terms. Our genes have changed very little from those of our ancestors. And most of us haven’t developed the capacity to handle these “foreign” proteins.
Not to mention that modern, hybridized grains contain up to 40 times more gluten than the heirloom varieties grown just thirty years ago… and we’re eating more than ever.
In other words, we’ve super-sized our consumption of super-gluten! The evidence clearly suggests that most of us would be healthier if we did not consume gluten.
But what about shedding fat? Will Going “Against the Grain” Help you Lose Weight?
The truth is that there is nothing inherent about gluten that will cause you to gain or lose weight. But that’s not the whole story… 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 consume, the more likely you will be overweight.
In fact, a recent review of the data behind the China Study shows that wheat consumption is the strongest dietary predictor of body weight and is closely correlated with body mass index. 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… 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.
Gluten-Free: Out of the Frying Pan… and into the Fire
Most commercially prepared gluten-free foods are no better than their “super-gluten” counterparts. Most of these foods are highly processed and contain chemicals and preservatives. But that’s not the worst part about them…
Gluten-free packaged foods, such as bread, pasta, cookies, crackers and cakes, typically have just as high of a glycemic index as their wheat-based counterparts. Basically, they harm your blood-sugar regulation system just as much as wheat does. The same goes for make-at-home baking mixes.
Most of these foods and recipes are made from rice, corn, potato and tapioca flours and other high-glycemic grains. In fact, most gluten-free flours are WORSE than eating a candy bar when it comes to your blood sugar!
And if these foods are not sweetened with harmful chemicals like sucralose and aspartame, they usually contain excess amounts of sugar, agave syrup, or even corn syrup. In other words, the very same unhealthy ingredients that promote inflammation, weight gain and blood sugar issues in the foods that contain gluten!
What you should apply is Sweet Science: Using “Metabolic Power Ingredients” – To Create the World’s Healthiest Desserts!
Dark Chocolate and Coconut Marzipan
8-9 oz of dark chocolate, ½ cup coconut oil, ¼ cup dry unsweetened coconut flakes, 1 tsp coconut, 1 tbsp organic brown sugar (optional), Raw almonds (optional)
In a mini muffin tin, place 12 mini cupcake liners. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute and then in 30 second increments after that, making sure you stir the chocolate after each time until it is completely melted. Place about 1 teaspoon of chocolate in each liner and coat well. Place in the refrigerator to harden. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut oil, dry unsweetened coconut flakes and coconut extract. (You may want to add about a tablespoon of cane sugar if you like it a little sweeter). Add one tablespoon of the coconut mixture to each liner and then cover with another spoonful of melted chocolate. If you want to add an almond do so before you add the final spoonful of melted chocolate! Set in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.
Chewy Granola Bars
½ cup raw honey, ½ cup coconut oil (in the solid state), ½ cup organic brown sugar, 2½ cups gluten-free rolled oats, 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, ½ cup ground flaxseed, 4 Tbsp chopped almonds (optional)
In a medium sized bowl, mix together rolled oats, shredded coconut, and flaxseed and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together honey, coconut oil, and brown sugar and cook until bubbling, stirring often. Pour coconut oil mixture over top of oat mixture and mix everything together. Pour granola bar mixture into an ungreased, parchment lined 8×8 inch pan. Sprinkle chopped almonds over top and press into bars with your hand. Let cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Cut into 10-12 long bars.
No-Bake Energy Bites
1 cup oatmeal, ½ cup peanut butter, ⅓ cup honey, 1 cup coconut flakes, ½ cup ground flaxseed, ½ cup mini chocolate chips, 1 tsp vanilla
Mix all above ingredients in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls