Is Gluten-Free Eating a Good Way to Lose Weight?

Advanced Sports and Exercise Nutritional Advisor
Detox Specialist

A gluten-free diet is recommended for individuals with coeliac disease, but there is growing interest in the diet from non-coeliacs, due to its perceived weight loss and health benefits. Some of the purported benefits include faster weight loss, improved sleep, increased energy, clearer skin, and symptom improvement in conditions such as autism and rheumatoid arthritis.

Weight loss is one of the most commonly touted benefits. But can going gluten free really help you shed pounds fast?

What is a Gluten-Free Diet?

First, what is a gluten-free diet? Well, it’s essentially just eating foods that are free of gluten, a protein contained in a number of grains. As mentioned previously, this is usually recommended for people with coeliac disease. Individuals with coeliac disease have an undesirable immune response to gluten molecules in the food they eat. This results in damage to the cells in the gut, and in turn can result in poor absorption of nutrients. In some cases, this may lead to weight loss, due to reduced nutrients and energy (calories) acquired from food.

Now, when a person who has coeliac disease removes gluten from his or her diet, the body may start to heal and slowly begin to absorb more nutrients and energy from food. When this happens, weight gain may occur. This is exacerbated by the fact that these individuals are used to consuming larger portions of food to compensate for a lack of nutrient absorption.

Weight Loss or Weight Gain?

Research has been conducted on people who followed a gluten-free diet, and the results revealed… that they gained weight! This raises questions as to whether the gluten-free diet actually helps in weight loss, as is commonly claimed.

Because gluten is important for maintaining the desirable texture of many foods, it is often replaced with sugar, fats, or other additives. Meaning that many processed foods that are free from gluten are high in sugar as well as fat and salt! This can lead to increased calorie intakes, and therefore weight gain.

It is often said that gluten-free foods have a “health halo” around them, meaning they are perceived to be healthy. This may mean that somebody eats these gluten-free foods that are packed with sugars and fats without question!

However, preparing gluten-free meals at home from grains and legumes that don’t contain gluten may be able to counteract this problem. So, what’s allowed and what’s not?

What You Can Eat

If you are planning to go gluten free, here are some of the healthier foods that you can enjoy:

• Grains such as pure oats, corn, rice, rice flour, sorghum, quinoa
• Plant foods or starches such as arrowroot, buckwheat, flax, Indian ricegrass, legume flours

What You Can’t Eat

• Wheat starch
• Couscous
• Cracked wheat
• Emmer
• Farina
• Barley
• Rye
• Triticale and Mir (a cross between wheat and rye)

Bear in mind that these lists only cover a portion of the foods that are available.

Common Gluten-Free Diet Mistakes

Due to the popularity of the gluten-free diet, many people may be interested in giving it a try, for various reasons.

As you’ve already seen, just because a food is gluten free, doesn’t mean it’s automatically a healthy option! The “health halo” around gluten-free products often means that people make easily rectifiable mistakes when they shop for gluten-free produce at the store.

Here are some of the more common mistakes:

Falling for the “health halo” - sure, it’s easy to acquire gluten-free foods from the store, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Just because a food is labelled as gluten free, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Just like all the diets, it has to be well-balanced for it to work.

Not fully understanding food labels – always make sure to look out for allergen information on labels. Grains containing gluten are often highlighted in bold (at least in the UK) and most other countries mark these in some way, in order to avoid a reaction from those with coeliac disease.

Resorting to convenience foods - when it comes to a gluten-free diet, you may find yourself a bit more restricted in the kitchen. But don’t give up on making home-cooked food! It’s so easy to resort to food deliveries and ready-made meals and this is one of the most common pitfalls most people face. Ready-made gluten-free foods may also be pretty expensive!

Conclusion:

Going gluten-free doesn’t necessarily translate to weight loss! In fact, many studies have shown that it can even make you gain weight. Maximising health on a gluten-free diet relies on more than just buying foods with “gluten free” on the label!

Advanced Sports and Exercise Nutritional Advisor
Detox Specialist

What If You Don’t Go To University

It’s August, which means it’s that time of the year again: A Level Results Day.

And whether it’s your friends or your grandma, there’s one question on everyone’s lips…

Are you going to university?

You might be heading back from college to the tune of ‘Did you get the grades?’

Or maybe you never wanted to go to uni in the first place.

Whichever boat you’re in; what happens when your friends are prepping for freshers’ week, but you’re not?

No fear – we’re here to help! The first thing you need to consider is:

Are you sure about your decision?

It’s difficult to aim for your goals if you don’t know what they are, or how to reach them. This means that if you have a particular career in mind, you might want to see a careers advisor or thoroughly research alternative routes into the field you’re passionate about before making a final decision.

But then what? Well, first, it’s important to know…

There are a ton of careers that don’t require a university degree

It’s true! You may have considered some of these options: hairdressing, beauty, personal training.

But those aren’t the only choices – many careers have a variety of pathways into them, from accountancy, to journalism, to nutritional therapy.

Read on to see what you can do instead of going to university:

Take a Gap Year

Fondly known as the ‘gap yah’ among millennials, many teens take a year out to decide what they want to do before continuing their education. This often takes the form of travelling, learning a language, and gaining lots of experience of different cultures – but it can also involve volunteering in a mix of industries to help you make a more informed decision about your future. While this kind of break provides a temporary solution, it’s common for people to head back to school once they complete their gap year, but many teens also open doors to careers they never knew existed!

(Pssst… Looking for the latest work experience opportunities? GoThinkBig is a good place to start).

Find an Apprenticeship

Becoming an apprentice is a great way to get straight into work AND gain a qualification while you earn. From farming, to hospitality, to law, you can choose your apprenticeship from a huge selection of fields and levels, from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) right through to Level 6/7 (degree equivalent). Depending on the level, an apprenticeship can take between 1 and 5 years to complete, but you’ll be learning loads of job-specific skills along the way.

If you’re in the UK, you can click here to find an apprenticeship.

Get an Entry-Level Job

While a large number of entry-level jobs will attract applications from students and recent graduates, many employers offer roles aimed at school-leavers – including training schemes. The obvious benefit of heading straight into work is that you’ll be earning right away.

A great way to find entry-level jobs is to keep an eye on websites that advertise vacancies in specific fields. Mediargh is a great example for media-related careers (publishing, science – whatever).

Become an Entrepreneur

Ever wanted to start your own business? Now might be your chance! This can be an exciting option for those not looking to go to university, but it’s wise to first consider the funding, support, and advice you’ll need along the way. If you’re in the UK, check out these government guidelines for new businesses.

For an extra boost when it comes to marketing your business effectively, check out Google’s Digital Garage for free digital marketing training.

Study for an Online Diploma

A huge barrier for many prospective students is the possibility of getting in over £50,000 of debt for a qualification in an area they’re not entirely sure about, or wasn’t necessary for their preferred career.

Whether you’re looking to boost your entrepreneurial endeavours, or you want to get a feel for a subject before jumping into a degree, an online diploma can be a great way to go! Loads of platforms offer you the chance to study via the web and many don’t require specialist technology, so you can get going with just a laptop and a cup of tea.

If it’s nutrition you’re into, we at The Health Sciences Academy® have a whole host of certifications and short courses for you to explore.

Nutrition not your thing? Not to worry – there are loads of other great providers out there. Check out Coursera and Lynda for an array of online courses on a variety of subjects.

They’re called options for a reason…

It’s important to remember that choosing to not go to university isn’t something that sets your career in a permanent direction. You may try one of the above and decide you want to go to uni after all! Perhaps you want some work experience, maybe you’re looking to boost your know-how before embarking on a degree, or you might even decide to do both an online course and an apprenticeship – the point is: the sky’s the limit.

What you’re doing this September doesn’t necessarily define the rest of your life, but it CAN boost it. Do what’s best for you and remember: it’s quite natural to need a little bit of extra time to work out where you want your career to go.

The Health Sciences Academy® is the UK’s largest online educator in nutrition science.

We are home to a variety of Level 5 online diplomas, in addition to a range of accredited short courses in nutrition topics – ready to help you ignite your career.

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Advanced Sports and Exercise Nutritional Advisor