Some people, when they switch to a gluten-free diet, find themselves with unwanted and unexpected extra pounds creeping on. Why is this? Isn’t a gluten-free diet supposed to be healthy?
When we “go gluten free” and opt to replace our previous favorite foods with gluten-free versions of those foods, we are in for a big surprise: the gluten-free version is often higher in calories and glycemic impact due to the types of ingredients used. This can mean weight gain! If you are trying to avoid gaining weight and are on a gluten-free diet, here are some tips for you:
Eat Real Food
Eating processed gluten-free food is no healthier than eating any other processed food – the key is the word “processed.” What do we mean by processed? Foodstuffs in a can, box, or plastic packaging, meant for quick preparation and consumption. Frozen dinners, packaged cookies and crackers, ready-to-eat soups, etc. Your best bet is to stick to fresh proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, dairy, and non-gluten whole grains. Processed foods are certainly convenient, but if you limit your intake of those types of foods and increase cooking and eating from scratch, you and your weight will be much better off.
Go Easy on Carbs
In the 80’s, low-fat was all the rage. Turns out, fat isn’t the enemy, it’s too many high-glycemic carbohydrates that spike your blood sugar and cause your body to turn the excess glucose into stored fat. Healthy carbohydrates to include in your diet are ones containing vitamins, minerals, and fiber, such as:
- Vegetables (both starchy and non-starchy)
- Whole Gluten-Free Grains
- Beans and Legumes
All carbohydrates break down into sugar in the body, and sugar is the culprit for causing weight gain. So choosing high-quality carbohydrates listed above, which break down slower, to avoid blood sugar spikes. Also, being mindful about how much you are consuming is important to avoid weight gain.
You should be consuming about 25-30% of your daily calories from protein. Protein is made up of the building blocks amino acids, which are used by nearly every cell in your body. Adequate protein helps your body function, heal, and grow – and it helps to keep you full. Eat high-quality proteins such as poultry, lean meats, eggs, fish, and seafood. Nuts and dairy contain a small amount of protein, so don’t count on them as a protein source (and nuts are very high in calories). Vegetarians and vegans can combine grains and beans to create a complete protein source instead of eating animal products.
While the majority of your weight is due to what you eat, movement is important too, not just for weight control, but also for overall health. We are meant to move, so find some type of exercise that you truly enjoy and get out there and do it. Finding something you enjoy doing will help ensure that you stick with it. It’s fun to exercise with a friend, not only to hold each other accountable, but for the camaraderie and enjoyment. Make a list of movement that you enjoy, and some new ideas too, and give them a try.
How would you like 10 free gluten-free recipes? Download here!