That’s it folks. The #1 tip for losing weight is to eliminate grains and gluten from your repertoire of food choices. If you are at all versed in the growing paleo or primal philosophies then you will already know that this is not negotiable. The grains and gluten have got to go! Fortunately, gluten free seems to be the new marketing buzz these days. The number of gluten free products is proliferating and it is becoming more common for restaurants to have a gluten free menu or indicate which items are or can be made gluten free. However, while we wholeheartedly endorse removing grains/gluten from your diet we do not believe that the growing store of gluten free breads, pastas, cookies and pizzas are a good replacement. Typically the gluten is replaced by many other less troublesome flours like chickpea or buckwheat but they still do not contribute to the nutrient density you should be aiming for – so yes, you can reduce your body fat stores but cutting breads, pastas, cookies and pizza from your diet but only if you fill the gap on your plate with vegetables, protein, health fat and in certain instances starches like yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes or rice.
If you’re not familiar with gluten then here’s a quick 101: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and oats (to a lesser extent) – it is what causes bread and baked goods to hold together. While not entirely understood, what is known is that gluten seems to trigger an immune response that results in inflammation and autoimmune disorders where the immune system begins to mistakenly attack the tissues in it’s own body. Many people suffer from low level symptoms like hives, nausea or digestive issues and do not realize they have an issue or correlate it with gluten intake but at the other end of the spectrum is full blown celiac disease.
The initial symptoms are cramping, bloating and diarrhea, similar to irritable bowel syndrome but celiac disease can lead to malnutrition, osteoporosis and other more serious health problems that can result in early death. The incidence of celiac disease is rising and research is showing that people are not born with the issues but something in the environment appears to be triggering it. The New England Journal of Medicine lists 55 “diseases” that can be caused by consuming gluten, including osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, cancer, fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases. Gluten is also linked to many psychiatric and neurological diseases, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, migraines, epilepsy, and neuropathy (nerve damage). It has also been linked to autism.
Dr William Davis is outspoken about how wheat is keeping us fat and sick and has lots of good information online but you can also buy his book – Wheat Belly.
So what exactly does wheat/gluten do to make you fat and ill?
- Gluten damages your digestive system. It compromises your gut lining and causes inflammation but also prevents you from absorbing critical nutrients.
- A damaged gut lining or ‘leaky gut’ allows proteins from the foods you eat to escape your digestive system where they cause and immune response.
- Phytates present in grains tightly bind to important nutrients and prevents you from absorbing them.
- Your gall bladder and bile production can be compromised which will inhibit fat absorption and together with than a range of fat soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, and K. Your body also need the fat you eat.
- Gluten elicits a similar response in your brain to drugs which can be addicting and result in cravings and binges driven by gluteomorphins that cannot be controlled by sheer willpower.
- Gluten affects blood sugar which raises insulin and results in fat storage. Doing this daily or several times a day leads to insulin resistance which leads to diabetes,
Whichever way you look at it – the bread, pasta, pizza, cakes, cookies, flour-bases sauces – they all have got to go if you want to reduce your fat stores and improve your health. So what do you replace the gluten grains with? Here’s a bonus weight loss tip!
Focus primarily on whole natural protein – that’s meat, preferably grass fed or organic, wild caught fish, organic chicken, grass fed eggs and lots of veggies of all kinds. Add fats like avocados, olive oil, coconut oil and the fat from the meats you eat. This is essentially the Paleo or Primal diet. This way of eating will get anyone started on the road to shedding some stored fat and repairing some of the damage done by the evil-Gs. However, this does not account for biochemical individuality and ancestral dietary fit or activity level etc so the level of starch and types of starch you can include in your food choices and still continue to shed fat and feel well will vary and is an area where you will need to tweak things. There are also some dietary schools of thought like those of the Weston A Price foundation that support grain consumption if properly prepared by soaking or fermenting as described in Nourishing Traditions – I do not really miss grains and do not want to go to those lengths to include it in my food choices but it can be a option for you if you choose one you have achieved your fat reduction goals.Share