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- Why Are You Going Gluten-Free?
- What Is Your Diet Like Today?
- Gluten-Free Diet Results
- One Week Gluten-Free Results
- Two to Three Months Gluten Free
- Did You Lose Weight or Gain Weight Going Gluten-Free?
- What Are The Side Effects of Going Gluten-Free?
How Long Does It Take To See Results From a Gluten-Free Diet?
Overweight? Gas? Bloating? Headaches? “Go gluten free,” they say. “You’ll feel better,” they say. But, is there any benefit to going gluten free? And how long does it take to see results?
The short answer is – your gluten-free results will be a bit different based on your starting point.
Why Are You Going Gluten-Free?
Having Celiac disease is very different from having a gluten sensitivity or mild digestive symptoms. Celiac is an autoimmune condition where the gluten protein in wheat, barley and rye triggers the body to attack itself: most namely, the lining of the small intestine. In addition to digestive symptoms, unchecked celiac results in nutrient deficiencies because the digestive organs are impaired.
Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, may involve similar symptoms to Celiac disease like gas, bloating, and discomfort without the immune response and extensive damage to the intestine.
Familiar sources of gluten like wheat, barley and rye also have fermentable carbohydrates known as fructans. For many people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), fructans can cause symptoms. In this case, improvement can be nearly immediate as in 24-48 hours after you’ve started. But, eliminating fructans should be part of a comprehensive approach that reduces all fermentable carbohydrates, commonly known as a low FODMAP diet.
As an FYI, if you suspect you have Celiac disease, you’ll want to get tested before you remove gluten; otherwise, you may not get accurate results.
Beyond your initial reason for going G free, your diet today may also impact your results.
What Is Your Diet Like Today?
For many, eliminating gluten means getting rid of foods that are empty calories. Think about the most common sources of gluten in the American diet:
- Breakfast bars
The majority of these foods have the same ingredients: white flour, sugar, oil, salt, plus or minus a handful of preservatives and ingredients you can’t pronounce. They provide little or no nutritional value, aren’t particularly filling and are easy to overeat.
The folks over at Whole30 coined these items as “Foods without brakes,” meaning they don’t send the same “full” signal to our brain that apples and broccoli do. So they are insanely easy to overeat. When was the last time you ate ¾ of a cup of breakfast cereal?
If your diet is filled with these empty calorie foods, you’ll no doubt notice some immediate improvement because processed foods spike your blood sugar, lead to inflammation and maybe even cause you to eat more calories than you need. Of course, if you replace processed wheat products with processed gluten-free alternatives, you probably aren’t doing yourself any favors.
Gluten-Free Diet Results
Alright, so let’s get into the nitty-gritty. What can you expect with one week, two weeks, one month under your belt? It’s helpful to set your expectations because a gluten-free diet can be challenging to stick to, and you might throw in the towel if you don’t get results fast.
Let’s assume you get rid of all wheat, barley and rye, and you don’t add in processed gluten-free breads and crackers made from rice and cornflour.
So, what is on the menu?
- Healthy fats like olive oil and avocados
- Nuts, seeds and nut/seed butter
- Protein foods like chicken, fish and tofu
- Beans (if you tolerate them)
- Gluten-free grains: rice, quinoa, corn, gluten free oats
One Week Gluten-Free Results
After one or two weeks, you’ll likely notice less bloating and puffiness. In my experience, many people also report fewer food cravings. Bread, crackers and cereal spike blood sugar and insulin, both causes of food cravings and since they don’t provide the same “full” feeling like a handful of nuts or a piece of chicken, so it’s no surprise, they leave you craving more food.
On the other hand, others feel irritable because they are missing some of their favorite foods and aren’t eating enough in general. The simple solution to this is planning. Planning with gluten-free meals and snacks can help limit the hangry factor.
Two to Three Months Gluten-Free
For those with Celiac Disease, the results will become exponentially better as the digestive tract heals and the levels of antibodies produced in response to the gluten start to decrease. As the lining of the digestive tract heals, the body is better able to absorb and use nutrients. Hair, skin, nails and energy start to improve.
Gluten can also contribute to a health condition known as intestinal permeability or leaky gut. The longer it is out of your diet, the more time your digestive tract has to repair. Notable improvements to repairing a leaky gut often include increased mental clarity, decreased fatigue and reduced food reactivity.
Did You Lose Weight or Gain Weight Going Gluten-Free?
Gluten-free diet weight loss results aren’t entirely connected to the gluten protein itself. The unpopular truth here is that actual fat loss doesn’t have much to do with gluten at all. It comes down to eating fewer calories than you burn, limiting blood sugar spikes and eating healthful foods that are satisfying for the long haul – aka not crash dieting.
If your diet shifts drastically from high carb to low carb because of going gluten-free, you’ll retain less water, feel full and satisfied and still enjoy foods you love. Healthy fat, fiber and protein are all satiety signals that may cause you to eat less.
When you dial down the carbs in your diet, you’ll experience big weight loss numbers initially. The initial drop in weight is mostly due to water losses. You store carbs in your muscles and with that, water. After hitting a high number that first week, often five pounds+, you can expect a gradual weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week as long as you still have a calorie deficit.
So the bottom line is if you want to lose weight, a gluten-free diet can get you there, but you don’t get a free pass on portion control and balanced meals.
What Are The Side Effects of Going Gluten-Free?
Gluten-containing grains are a source of fiber, b vitamins and iron. You’ll need replacements for these foods; otherwise, your digestive health and energy levels may suffer.
Fiber: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, gluten free oats
B Vitamins: leafy greens, red meat, chicken
Iron: leafy greens, beans, red meat, chicken, fish
The Bottom Line On a Gluten-Free Diet
Going gluten free can yield pretty great results for digestive health, weight and overall wellness. However, it can also go south if you don’t stick with it, or you eat gluten-free junk and skimp on the good stuff. If you’re dealing with digestive troubles, brain fog, excess weight, give it a try, but put a little elbow grease into the planning phase to set yourself for success.
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