Do Gluten-Free Diets Take Off Pounds?

Dee Sandquist, MS, RD discusses a few pros and cons of going on a gluten-free diet.


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Some experts believe that shunning foods with gluten—a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley—helps with weight loss. And celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah have reportedly gone on gluten-free detox diets for just that reason.

But does going gluten-free really work? We asked Dee Sandquist, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Her take:

You might lose a few pounds by cutting out high-gluten baked goods that contain lots of fat …

  • But any weight loss is probably because youre reducing your overall calorie-and-fat intake—not because you‘re cutting out gluten. What‘s more, theres currently no science that indicates youll lose weight by replacing a gluten-filled food with a nongluten food that has the same number of calories.


You may eat more filling whole grains that dont have gluten, such as corn, rice, amaranth, and buckwheat …

  • But some of those non-gluten whole grains actually have less fiber than their gluten-containing counterparts.


Some people feel more energetic on a gluten-free diet …

  • But it may simply be because theyre cutting back on their total food intake.


The bottom line: Going on a gluten-free diet for a few days may do no harm and may even give your diet a jump-start if it helps you limit calories. But its not a long-term weight-loss strategy, Sandquist says. And, in spite of rosy forecasts for the gluten-free-product industry, crafting a whole meal plan around the limited number of products available would be a challenge, she says.
Last Updated: July 09, 2009

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