Most of us remember some of the diet trends from the past few years – the cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, or low-carbohydrate/high protein diet. These diets are like most other fads: they’re popular for a short amount of time and then disappear. If they were more effective at helping people lose weight, they probably wouldn’t fade so quickly from the public eye.
One of the most popular food trends in 2010 was the gluten-free diet. With endorsements from celebrities, movie stars and television personalities, it’s easy to understand why sales from gluten-free products have more than doubled during the past few years. But what is a gluten-free diet, and does it help a person lose weight?
Gluten is a protein found in foods such as wheat, barley, and rye. For people who have celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is necessary since gluten may damage their intestine. Food product labels must be read with caution since gluten comes in different forms. It is frequently used as a food additive and is found in several foods including soups, condiments and baked goods. Many food products that don’t originally contain gluten may also be “cross-contaminated” during the manufacturing process with foods that do contain gluten.
Although the evidence has not shown that eating a gluten-free diet has health benefits, individuals who follow the diet claim to feel better and have more energy. However, individuals who eliminate gluten from their diet and expect to lose weight may be surprised to learn that gluten-free foods are not always lower in fat or calories; in fact they may be higher in one or both!
Trying to assess weight-loss plans can be confusing and overwhelming. With conflicting information from various sources, there may not be an easy way to determine if a diet will work. When evaluating the latest diet trends, consider the following information:
- Does the plan eliminate food groups?
Avoid any plan that restricts eating foods from an entire food group. You’ll miss out on important nutrients.
- Does it promise quick weight-loss?
A healthy weight goal is no more than ½ to 1 pounds per week. Losing weight too quickly usually results in muscle and water loss.
- Does it recommend physical activity?
Regular exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle!
Source: American Dietetic Association; National Institutes of Health.
Author: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.