Why Not to Use Gluten-Free Diets to Lose Weight

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Many Americans have switched to a gluten-free diet believing that it may help them lose weight. In fact, Consumer Reports surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults, and 63 percent felt going gluten-free would help improve either their physical or mental health. But, if you don’t have celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten, following a gluten-free diet may lead to poorer health.

Gluten-free diets may be less nutritious

Gluten-free products are stripped of wheat components, but often they also aren’t enriched with essential folic acid and iron that are in wheat. Instead of having more vitamins and minerals, as many people believe, many GF products have added sugar and high-fat content.

You could be exposed to arsenic

Most GF products will have some sort of corn or rice base instead of wheat. A 2012 Consumer Reports study showed that out of 60 rices and rice-based foods, almost all contained a considerable amount of arsenic. Researchers also found many GF products contain the inorganic form of arsenic, which is believed to  be a carcinogen.

Gluten-free diets may actually cause weight gain

Researchers have published study in the Journal of Medicinal Food  suggesting that going gluten-free may increase the chances of becoming overweight or obese. This is due to the fact that specialized gluten-free products contain more sugars, calories and fat.

You may still be eating gluten

Some studies have found that five percent of “GF” claims on products were false. The Food and Drug Administration has since ruled that in order to be gluten-free, a product must contain less that 20 parts per million of gluten. However, manufacturers are still not required to rigorously test products to meet FDA limits before claiming they're gluten-free.

Gluten-free diets cost more

A lot more. The Consumer Reports study found that gluten-free products can cost twice as much as regular brands. Another study found GF brands to be 242 percent more expensive. Higher prices are partly due to increased costs for GF certification testing and proper labeling. Plus, splurging on a GF product might lead you to buy other cheaper, less nutritious food.