Gluten Free

Ask your Online Fitness Coach: Should You Go Gluten Free?

The “Gluten-free” phase has been around for some time now. Unfortunately, it seems as though this trend is still going strong.

But there’s a catch – gluten isn’t always the dangerous thing you’ve been lead to believe.

Although with Marc Dressen personal training, you will take a look at your dieting methods, in combination with fitness and workout routines, it’s important to remember not to just follow the crowds. I know it’s easy to get caught up in a whirl of information about gluten and the apparent dangers it holds, but you shouldn’t believe everything you hear.

Here, we’re going to give you the scientific facts about what gluten actually is, so you can stop asking your online fitness coach whether you’re not losing weight because you love bagels. The good news, is that by the end of this article, you’re likely to discover that your body can function just fine with gluten. In fact, you probably have nothing to gain from a gluten-free diet.

Defining Gluten

Gluten is a type of protein that’s formed when the molecules gliadin and glutenin come together and create a bond. Gluten is what makes bread deliciously chewy and light. This substance can also be used as a thickening agent in various foods and cosmetic products.

Because wheat is so popular, you can rest assured that gluten is one of the most-consumed proteins on the planet. However, suddenly, health pundits are beginning to suggest that the molecule causes joint pain, weight gain, cancer, and a range of other problems.

With almost no scientific evidence to back these claims up, around one third of Americans have said that they’ll try to cut gluten from their diets – but who should actually be avoiding this protein?

Who Needs to Avoid Gluten?

As we noted above, gluten is made from gliadin, and glutenin. Gliadin is the toughest molecule, which is particularly hard to digest. When this substance is absorbed through the small intestine, it can lead to an autoimmune response in certain people. That response might lead to muscle pain, diarrhoea, and fatigue.

The condition is known as “celiac” disease. Those with celiac disease need to remove gluten from their diet completely. However, celiac is very rare. Research suggest that only around 1.2% of people have it. The condition is very serious, as it flattens the tiny finger-like protrusions in the small intestine which are responsible for absorbing nutrients from your food. This flattening reduces absorption and can persist for several years after gluten is removed from the diet.

The bottom line is, if you start to notice symptoms of pain and discomfort when you eat foods containing gluten, or you have any other reason to suspect that something might be wrong, you should get tested for celiac disease. If not, then you can continue your results-proven training plan without a change to your gluten diet.

Other Possibilities when you’re Not Gluten Intolerant

If you notice symptoms that are linked to gluten intolerance, and you head to the doctors, the chances are that you’ll discover that you’re suffering from one of a host of common conditions that are separate from intolerance. For instance, you might simply be struggling because your body can’t adapt to FODMOPs very well, and in this case, all you need to do is switch to a low-FODMAP diet.

On the other hand, some people who believe that they have problems with gluten actually just suffer from irritable bowel system. The common signs of IBS frequently overlap with the symptoms that we see in non-celiac based gluten sensitivity issues. You can work with your doctor to find out whether IBS might be an issue for you.

That’s not all…

Alternatively, you might have a wheat allergy. Research suggests that wheat contains a lot of different types of proteins that are difficult for our bodies to digest. These proteins can sometimes trigger certain auto-immune responses in the body that lead to discomfort and pain.

People who have wheat allergies frequently mistake their symptoms as signs of gluten intolerance. However, just because you have a problem with wheat doesn’t mean that you need to remove gluten from your diet entirely. You may simply need to rethink your diet and fitness goals.

Gluten-Free Diets Don’t Make You Lose Weight

If you don’t have celiac disease, then you have no reason to cut gluten out of your diet. Some people believe that this kind of diet will help them to banish pounds, but the truth is that there’s actually no reason why gluten would cause weight gain.

While certain foods are more beneficial for weight loss than others thanks to certain factors like energy density and satiety, weight loss is a lot more about how much you eat, rather than what you eat.

The ironic thing is that because gluten-free diets are often low in fibre, and fibre helps to promote satiety in the body, it tends to be more likely to help you gain weight than lose it. For instance, one study found that after 2 years of a gluten-free diet, around 81% of all celiac patients had gained weight. Though a gluten-free diet might not cause weight gain, the important thing to remember is that it doesn’t prevent weight gain either.

Gluten-Free isn’t Inherently Healthy

A lot of people turn to gluten-free diets because they believe it’s the healthiest way to eat. However, the truth is that there’s no special benefit to eating a diet that’s free from gluten. In fact, research tells us that many of the gluten-free options for food are actually less nutritious than their gluten-rich counterparts.

This is often why people who are following a gluten-free diet need to find ways that they can compensate for the micronutrient deficiencies that they encounter by ignoring gluten.

The Truth about the Gluten-Free Diet

Similarly to many fad diets, a gluten-free diet simply doesn’t live up to the excitement that it’s generated today. Though going gluten-free might convince you that you’re doing something positive for your body, science suggests that a gluten-free diet is no healthier for weight loss than any typical diet and exercise routine.

If you have symptoms that cause you to feel severe discomfort when consuming foods that contain gluten, then you should make sure that you rule out the possibility of celiac disease. Remember, even if you don’t have this disease, you may have another problem that needs to be evaluated.

The chances are that your discomfort and dieting problems aren’t caused by gluten sensitivity, and cutting all gluten from your diet is therefore an unnecessary step.

Marc Dressen
Personal Trainer London

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