Gluten-free diet not for weight loss

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

Diet fads come and go. One of the latest fads people are trying is a gluten free diet to lose weight.  Cleveland Clinic Registered Dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick says gluten-free diets are around for a reason, but weight loss is not necessarily one of them.

"Typically people that can't have gluten are individuals that have something called celiac disease. We also see individuals now that are truly gluten-sensitive and actually can't have gluten in their diet but because it's such a trend we are also seeing individuals turn to gluten-free diets for weight loss," explained Kirkpatrick.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It gives dough elasticity and baked goods their chewiness. People with celiac disease will experience stomach pains, bloating and diarrhea if they eat gluten.

It's an auto-immune response and the only way to deal with it is to avoid gluten altogether. But there is no evidence backing up the idea that a gluten-free diet will help you to lose weight. Kirkpatrick says if you can tolerate gluten you should focus on developing a healthy diet overall.

"We have to remember that any calorie that you have in excess of what you burn, you're going to gain weight," she said.

You can create a healthy diet by excluding many of the low-nutrient, high-calorie foods that a gluten-free diet eliminates. Things like breads, pizza, cookies and crackers top the list.

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