How to lose weight on a gluten-free diet

  • 2 Minutes Read
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RDN, CDCES, BC-ADM, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist Educator

Whether you avoid gluten for celiac disease or you just feel better without gluten, learn how to lose weight with a gluten-free diet.

How to lose weight on a gluten-free diet

Why do people start a gluten-free diet, and could it be used to lose weight?

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, is off-limits for many people. People with the autoimmune condition celiac disease must strictly avoid all gluten sources to prevent damage to the small intestine and the resulting health risks. Individuals with a wheat allergy avoid wheat but may eat barley and rye. Those with non-celiac wheat sensitivity (the subject of much debate) report negative symptoms associated with eating wheat or gluten-containing foods. Some people may avoid gluten because they have heard it is healthier for them.

Despite many popular diets touting gluten avoidance as a way to shed pounds, there is no evidence going gluten-free will help you lose weight. However, you may lose weight if going gluten-free means removing common high-calorie, high-carb foods like bread, bagels, and pasta dishes from your diet. You may also find yourself becoming more aware of your food choices, eating out less often, and selecting more gluten-free whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables.

If you have celiac disease, gut healing after eliminating gluten allows you to absorb calories better and could result in weight gain. Fortunately, that side effect is a temporary response, and continued weight gain is not inevitable. One report found that more than half of overweight people diagnosed with celiac disease were at a lower weight about three years after diagnosis, perhaps due to closer attention to food choices.

Despite their "health-halo," gluten-free foods aren't necessarily lower in calories or healthier than their gluten-containing counterparts. For example, some gluten-free versions of baked goods include added starches and nut flours, making them higher in carbs and calories.

Here's how to lose weight on a gluten-free diet

1. Choose whole foods over processed gluten-free foods

You may reach for the processed gluten-free foods for convenience and the security that comes with a gluten-free label. It's not hard to find gluten-free chips, crackers, baked goods, and candies. However, relying on these products can increase the risk of weight gain while providing fewer nutrients. To maximize your choices and improve diet quality, focus on naturally gluten-free whole foods, like quinoa, beans, chicken, fish, fruits, and vegetables.

2. Boost fiber from gluten-free sources

Fiber plays a vital role in gut health and keeping you feeling full. If you relied on whole wheat bread or whole wheat pasta as fiber sources in the past, it is essential to seek out high-fiber alternatives when going gluten-free.

Tip: To minimize gas and bloating, gradually add these high-fiber foods.

Serving size Dietary fiber (grams)
Almond flour 1/4 cup 3
Brown rice 1 cup, cooked 4
Ground flaxseed 2 tablespoons 4
Lentils 1 cup, cooked 16
Quinoa 1 cup, cooked 5
Raspberries 1 cup 8

3. Talk to your doctor

If you were recently diagnosed with celiac disease, you might ask your doctor to check your iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 levels. You may not have been absorbing these nutrients effectively. Your doctor may also check your thyroid levels, given the association between celiac disease and thyroid conditions. If anemia or low thyroid function zaps your energy, it will be harder to follow your eating plan and meet your activity goals for weight loss. In this case, it wouldn't matter how you choose to lose weight- on a gluten-free diet or any other diet.

4. Track your food choices

Understandably, it takes work to adjust to any new eating plan, including gluten-free. MyNetDiary is here to help you set your nutrition goals and monitor your daily intake. It is essential to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need on a gluten-free, reduced-calorie diet.

For example, not sure if your gluten-free diet provides enough fiber and calcium? Select fiber and calcium as nutrients to track in the MyNetDiary app and view your daily intake.

5. Try new recipes

Gluten-free cooking can be tasty, filling, and nutritious. Trying new recipes is a great way to focus on the foods you can eat and enjoy, rather than feeling deprived (and perhaps overeating in response). Did you know that MyNetDiary has more than 300 Premium dietitian-approved gluten-free recipes?

Here are some MyNetDiary Premium recipes for inspiration:
Breakfast Quinoa with Blueberries, Bananas, and Walnuts
Polenta Casserole with Broccoli and Cannellini Beans
Spiced French Lentils

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

Meal Planning & Diets->Gluten Free & Celiac
May 26, 2021

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