Losing weight on a gluten free diet
Just because you are on a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean that you will automatically lose weight. A lot of people go gluten free as a way to shred pounds and not for medicinal reasons and others who are coeliac and need to go gluten free even put on weight as nutrients start being absorped, which previously weren’t, in the case of severely vitamin and mineral deficient coealic patients. Either way, those on a gluten-free diet may not necessarily lose the weight they expect to so if you are looking to lose weight this summer to get into that polka dot bikini or to just feel healthier here are 5 tips to help you lose weight on a gluten-free diet.
1. Avoid processed “gluten-free” foods.
Today there are hundreds of gluten-free foods on the market that offer alternatives for the food we are used to eating. Gluten-free cake mixes, cereals, biscuits, pizza, breads and snacks etc. All of these are convenience-ready-to-eat gluten-free foods. But these foods are usually laden with calories, sugar and many chemicals and artificial ingredients, which are actually worse for you and higher in calories than their original wheat-based versions. They can affect insulin responses because of too much sugar and make you gain weight and should be avoided if you want to shred a few pounds. Take a look at the ingredients list and the calorie chart per 100 g on the packaging and you’ll see that it is actually quite shocking how much junk is in ready-made gluten-free foods. Most people think because it says “gluten free” it must be lower in calories and good for you. It isn’t. Don’t replace your old wheat-based junk food diet with a gluten-free-based junk food diet. And that includes baking your own gluten-free cakes and biscuits. Do you want to lose weight? Then you need to be serious and give up the sugary snacks. Just becuase you are gluten free doesn’t mean you’re off the junk-food hook! Learn to change your eating habits and embrace new foods that are naturally gluten free and don’t come in a packet. Make use of summer fruits, vegetables and herbs and spices and rustle up some refreshing salads, vegetable kebabs and BBQ-ued meats and fish instead. You might even notice that avoiding such processed pre-packaged foods is also cheaper and may help motivate you to eat more natural healthy produce in the long run.
2. Watch your calorie groups, don’t count individual calories.
At the start you may find you drop a lot of weight as you go gluten-free but after a while you may also plateau like me and struggle to drop the remaining few pounds or kilos. Although you have been good and restricted snacks and treats it may be that you aren’t eating enough calories and your body is going into “storing fat mode” which happens if the body thinks it is being starved. Or you might just be eating too much and portion control has … well ergh … slipped a little. Eating too less is also as bad as eating too much as the body needs a certain amount of food to function and give you energy. Counting calories is a nightmare and can lead to obsessive and annoying behaviour as I can vouch from personal experience! It also leaves you feeling hungry and then you end up cheating. One trick I use to watch my food intake is not to count every single calorie but to separate foods into three groups and then from each group I work out what I can eat more of and where I need to be more disciplined. This way you will still feel fully satisfied but also lose weight. (See table below.) This method was created by Professor Dr. Volker Schusdziarra; Gastroenterologist and internist from Munich University. He works in Nutritional medicine and is an expert for helping overweight patients lose weight safely and quickly.
|Under 150 calories per 100 g||Eat as much as you like to make yourself full and to bulk out your meals. Eat all day every day!|
|Between 150 to 250 calories per 100 g||Eat 2 – 3 times a week to complement meals. Must be controlled and shouldn’t be eaten all day every day.|
|Over 250 calories per 100 g||Avoid at all costs or allow once in a month as a treat. These are calorie bombs!|
3. Eat low-carb, grain-free or Paleo in addition to gluten-free.
There is much debate about whether the Paleo diet is good for you long term but for the short term it may help you to lose weight even if it is just for summer. Generally low-carb diets help stabilise blood sugar and prevent rapid insulin production, which is the thing that makes you hungry. When carbs are broken down they turn into glucose, which is a form of sugar and the theory is all carbs tend to add to weight gain and make you hungry more often giving you the typical swings in blood sugar levels. The Paleo diet concentrates on eliminating high-carb fruits, legumes, grains and foods containing high-fructose syrups and focuses more on lean meats, vegetables and pure fat products. However, some people believe that cutting out food groups like carbs is not a good idea and can lead to vitamin, fiber and other nutrient deficiencies. But to lose a few pounds it might not hurt to reduce the amount of carbs, sugars and grains you eat and add more protein to meals so long as you are careful and speak to your doctor or nutritionist first as it may not suit everyone.
4. Watch your fluid intake.
With any diet you need to make sure you drink enough water but also not too much. Too much water can lead to:
- Decreased metabolism
- Decreased mental clarity
- Cold hands/feet
- Decreased emotional well being
And this in turn can make it harder to lose weight. Make sure you don’t drink water when eating food 30 mins either side as it will dilute stomach acids making it harder and slower for your food to digest. It is important to keep hydrated but make sure you don’t overdo it. Only drink when you are thirsty and listen to your body. Some people may need more or less than you; everyone is different. If you are busy running around or playing sports then an electrolyte drink is good to replace salts and minerals in the body you have sweated out or used up in muscles. With any diet stick with water, herbal and fruit teas and cut down on milky coffees, milkshakes, fruit juices, alcohol and fizzy pop drinks. The extra sugar in these drinks will stimulate insulin levels and the excess glucose in your body will store as fat. You need to watch out for liquid calories as well as the solid food ones. Oh and no sugar in tea and coffee, if you need to sweeten your brew then add in a spoonful of natural raw honey instead. Raw honey contains pre- and pro-biotics, enzymes, trace vitamins and minerals and is also easier to digest for some people, especially those with carbohydrate and gut issues but should still be used in moderation as it is a high calorie-high glucose food.
5. Don’t forget to exercise.
This could be the most important tip of all. If you want to really see results in weight loss you are definitely going to have to move it and break a sweat! You need to keep active and burn calories because if you eat more than you burn you will start to store excess calories as fat. Exercise is also a mood lifter; sending endorphins around the body making you feel good. Exercsie is also good for the heart, lungs, organs and muscles and brilliant for the digestive system. It is important to find something you like so you stick at it, even 20 minutes a day can help a lot when combined with the other tips above. I am doing Jillian Michaels’ 30 day shred at the moment to help me tone up for summer. It’s pretty intense but only 20 minutes a day and I have already noticed a huge difference in my stamina and muscle strength not to mention muscle definition and toning. Even more than by doing an hour of Zumba! By exercising you build more muscle and muscle burns more calories helping you lose more fat. Swimming is great for cardio and toning every muscle in your body especially if you have weak joints. It really is old school methods that work: exercise and diet that will shift the pounds and in the long term build self esteem and confidence that will filter into other aspects of your life.
Hope that helps a bit and you’re having a great start to the summer! 🙂
If you have any other tips or advice you want to share feel free to join me in the conversation below! I’d love to hear your comments!