So you’ve heard that a gluten-free diet can really help you lose weight. You’re curious about this, aren’t you? You’ve seen that famous Ms. So & So on Instagram raving about the goodness of ‘Gluten-Free’ foods and, OMG she’s lost what seems like a ton of weight. Now you’re convinced that a gluten-free diet is perfect for you too! And you definitely want to give this strategy a try. We’re here to tell you that not all is as rosy as it seems and before you go on this new adventure, you need to understand the pros and cons of this diet, just like any other diet.
But first, understand what gluten is…
Gluten is a name for a class of proteins found in certain grains, like wheat, rye and barley. Their primary function is to help foods maintain their shape, when cooked. Think of gluten as a sort of glue that binds a food together. A gluten-free diet therefore is void of this element and by extension the grains that contain them. So this means that foods like breads (wheat, rye and barley in particular), baked goods and certain cereals made from the aforementioned ingredients are all out.
Now that you know what gluten is, and what a gluten-free diet entails, here are 5 simple gluten-free strategies that will help in weight loss.
Learn to read your labels right
One of the best ways to consume better, is to read carefully the nutrition labels. These are nutritional facts about the product, which are often displayed at the back of the pack.
- Ingredients are listed by quantity — from highest to lowest. Try looking for products that list whole foods as the first three ingredients and be skeptical of foods with long lists of ingredients.
Nutrition labels often list calories and nutritional values based on serving size or a single serving in terms of grams. A note of caution:
- Serving sizes listed on packaging may be misleading and unrealistic. Manufacturers often list a much smaller amount than what most people consume in one setting.
Some misleading claims to be aware of:
- Light: Light products are processed in order to remove or water down calories. Most often sugar. So when reading the label, make sure you take this into account.
- No added sugar: Some products are already naturally high in sugar, therefore a no added sugar label must be treated with caution
- Low Calorie: Low cal versions of a product are supposed to have 1/3rd as much the calories of the brand’s original product. Some ‘low-cal’ versions of a product however could contain the same amount of calories as the standard version of another brand’s ‘original recipe’ product.
- Zero trans-fat: For a product to qualify as ‘zero trans-fat’ it needs to have <0.5 g of trans-fat per serving. But if serving sizes are deceptively small, there may still be trans-fat in the product.
Simple substitutions, portion control and low GI foods
Most dieticians will agree that gluten-free diets help people drop weight rather effortlessly in the beginning. Once your weight loss plateaus however, gaining or losing weight is all about counting calories. Our advice is portion control and using gluten-free staples like bajra, jowar, ragi, oats etc. These grain-alternatives are good on 2 fronts, they are all low GI foods, compared to rice (GI=79.6) and wheat (GI=62). This means that they do not cause your glucose levels to spike suddenly. Secondly, they take longer to digest, which implies that one serving of these foods will keep you satisfied for longer.
Be realistic about your goals / consult a nutritionist / dietician
While weight loss is one of the keys of overall health, one needs to be realistic about one’s goals. Expecting to drop tons of weight overnight or in an unrealistic period of time is setting oneself up for failure, or worse serious negative side-effects. A sound strategy before embarking on any diet (gluten-free diet included), is to visit a certified, reputed dietician and having a frank, honest discussion about your weight loss objectives. A dietician is there to help you plan your diet in a scientific manner, in a manner that is efficient as well as healthy.
There’s an old adage that states, “weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise.” While that is all well and good, diet without exercise can only do so much. A sedentary lifestyle is the #1 cause of obesity. So adding some form of exercise to your everyday life is the key to all round weight loss and good health in general. Whether you run, gym, brisk walk, do weights or play a sport, regular exercise, combined with diet is a surefire formula to help you maintain an active lifestyle. Endurance and strength training combined get the best results for weight loss.
Modern life is full of stress and strains. It will amaze you just how much stress can contribute to unwanted eating . This can lead to binge eating or bulimia nervosa i.e., the urge to binge eat and then leads to purging (vomiting). Stress eating is an unhealthy habit that can be negated through mindfulness. Mindfulness can be in the form of an art like yoga or meditation, or simple scientific processes like deep breathing, dissociating oneself from a trigger, or an activity like colouring or hypnotherapy. The choices for mindfulness are several. So we suggest picking up an activity and practicing it. You’ll be stunned at the results.
In conclusion, alongside a gluten free diet, there are loads of things that you can do in order to lose weight. At Prolicious we’re focused on helping you with healthy, tasty eating throughout the day. Explore our range of plant protein enriched foods, with at least 2x the protein of store-bought alternatives here.