Ep 028: Should You Be Gluten Free?

Should you be gluten free? What is gluten and how does it impact health, weight loss and fat loss? What foods contain gluten and how can you go about removing gluten from your diet? It is even possible? What risks does gluten pose to health & weight loss and what we should do about it? If you’re wondering about all the hype and if you should be gluten free, this is the episode to listen to!

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The Problem: 

Gluten is a major hot button in the nutrition & fitness world of late. It seems like most people are wondering if they should eliminate gluten or not and the grocery aisle of gluten-free products is growing by the second! Many people feel like they’re doing a “healthy” thing when they buy gluten free cookies or brownies. But what is gluten and who needs to be concerned about it? Is there a benefit to removing it? What do we risk if we don’t? Are gluten-free treats healthy? We’re going to cover all of that in today’s episode.

I want to emphasize that I am just sharing information with you. I’m not telling you that you should or shouldn’t cut gluten out of your diet. That is a personal decision and it should be based on your body and your goals. It should not be based on other people’s opinions – mine included. Instead, it should be based on how your body feels and reacts when you’re eating gluten vs. when you’re not. That is the only factor that matters. How your body works. That’s it.

You might be wondering why it seems like gluten is “all of a sudden” a problem. Well, it’s really just about how much more gluten we’ve been exposed to over the last 20 or so years with the advent and over-exposure to processed foods. Gluten is in almost all processed foods and those are a staple in the standard American diet. It didn’t use to be that way. Plus, grains (which contain gluten) have really changed. That’s why we’re seeing an estimated 400% increase in the presence of celiac disease just in the last decade or so! Our exposure is through the roof!

In this episode we talk about many issues that can be caused by gluten consumption. One of the big ones is inflammation. We’ve talked about inflammation before and how inflammation generates damage within the body. Inflammation diverts our body’s resources to go respond to the damage. When we eat anything that is proinflammatory, we’re repeating the damage each time we put the fork to our mouth. It’s kinda like getting punched in the face. Once is pretty bad, right? The healing process begins. But what if multiple times each day you’re getting punched in the face? Not only will the damage never heal, but what could have been a minor problem is now creating a major problem because you keep taking hits. The scary part is that unlike getting punched in the face, you might not initially feel this inflammation in your body. Someone who has celiac disease will consume gluten and have an immediate reaction. They stop eating it, of course. For those of us who aren’t celiac or who aren’t tuned in to the inflammatory reactions in our body or it’s not severe enough to notice, we just keep re-introducing the damage multiple, sometimes dozens of times each day – where will we be 10 years from now? What is happening internally as a result of inflammation that we just can’t feel yet? Remember that inflammation is the starting point for just about every disease we know of.

The Solution: 

When we consider the question – should you be gluten free –  there’s two factors at play here: health & fat loss. Both are very important, of course, because the healthier you are, the easier fat loss becomes. But that’s not to say that you can’t achieve fat loss while eating some foods that are on the “unhealthy” end of the spectrum. Gluten is not a healthy food. It’s just not. But, you know I’m not a fan of going “all in” to behavior change because I think it’s not sustainable. You must determine whether or not gluten is right for your body. In this episode we talk in detail about how you can make that determination.

Practical Implementation:

Gluten containing foods raise your blood sugar and therefore elicit an insulin response and will impair fat burning. If you are minimizing gluten-containing foods and seeing fat loss results, bravo. Keep doing what you’re doing. Eventually, as your body becomes less responsive, I’d encourage you to work towards eliminating gluten all together as a means of seeing further progress.

Are you curious to know if you’re sensitive to gluten? The best way to find out is to commit to eliminating all gluten from your diet for 7-10 days and see how your body responds. After 7-10 days, begin to re-introduce it slowly and note changes in your mood, energy, water retention, joint comfort, skin health, mental clarity and stomach comfort.

Symptoms that a lot of people experience when they consume gluten can include bloating, fatigue, skin problems or rashes, bowel irregularities like constipation, gas or diarrhea, depression & mood swings.

I feel strongly that whether or not you think you have a sensitivity, there is merit to removing all gluten from your diet for a week or two and paying attention to how you feel. If you feel AMAZING and better than you have in a while, continue to eliminate it. Does it accelerate your progress towards your fat loss goals? Are you less hungry? Are you experiencing fewer cravings? Let that be the indicator of whether or not gluten has a place in your diet.

Check out the list below of common gluten-containing foods. It is pretty extensive. The most straight forward way to eliminate gluten is to eliminate wheat and wheat products. The easiest way to do that? Move away from processed foods. That’s not a 100% rule, but it will make a MASSIVE difference in your consumption and exposure.

Resources:

Carb Strategies for Sustainable Fat Loss E-Course
List of gluten-containing foods
Wheat Belly
Carb Timing
Carb Tolerance
Against All Grain (cookbook)

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