Food & Nutrition

12 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Give Up Gluten

You might think you’re doing the right thing by cutting out this wheat protein, but going gluten-free can have some negative effects, too

The gluten conundrum

fresh baked breads in market placeSony Ho/Shutterstock

By now you’ve heard of gluten, and you probably even know it’s the wheat protein that gives bread and other foods their shape and texture. But going gluten-free when you don’t have a diagnosed wheat allergy or celiac disease doesn’t promise weight loss or better health, according to science. That hasn’t stopped millions of people from giving the diet a try. Experts recommend consulting your primary health-care provider before making any drastic changes to your diet. Check out some reasons you should not go gluten-free.

You might end up with cravings

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There’s no scientific evidence that a gluten-free diet will help you lose weight. “If you are avoiding gluten in an effort to lose weight, or are restricting it without medical necessity, you will likely see the effects that all diets eventually cause: food preoccupation, feelings of guilt around food, food cravings, and overeating,” says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, creator of the Ditch the Diet Challenge. It’s not necessarily the lack of gluten but the fact that you’re restricting yourself that can cause your body to switch into survival mode, leading to uncontrollable cravings, overeating, and binges. Check out these 9 surprising foods that contain gluten.

You could miss out on muscle-building protein

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When Canadian researchers analyzed the nutritional content of gluten-free products from two major supermarkets, they found that overall, the products had less protein than similar foods that contain gluten. In this study, the researchers looked at products targeted to kids, but previous studies found similar results in foods marketed to adults.

You could end up constipated

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Many foods that contain gluten are good sources of fiber, like whole wheat bread and pasta. “Rice and quinoa pasta don’t have much fiber compared to whole-grain kinds,” says Carolina Guizar, RD, a registered dietitian and the founder of Eathority. And given that most Americans are getting way less fiber than they need, eliminating these common sources can make it even more difficult to get your fill. A lack of dietary fiber has been linked to chronic constipation, diabetes, and heart disease, so be sure to load up on naturally gluten-free sources like beans, produce, and quinoa to avoid those health pitfalls. Check out these 11 symptoms of celiac disease.

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