Gluten is a naturally occurring protein made up of amino acids like any other protein and it is found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. If this all sounds too scientific, it is the ingredient which gives elasticity to dough and helps with the chewy texture.
Gluten turns up in all sorts of places where you would not necessarily expect it. Flour is sometimes used to bulk up other foods. Gluten turns up in chocolate and ice cream. Soy sauce does have gluten as does beer and other forms of alcohol.
Because most people associate gluten with bread and cakes other delicious bakery goods there is an idea that a gluten-free diet will help with weight loss. Unfortunately, this is a misconception. Gluten free foods do not automatically have any fewer calories than the gluten alternative.
When it comes to processed food especially, the gluten-free alternative may have added sugars and fats to add flavor and texture, and to make the gluten-free product taste more like its gluten cousin. It is not the gluten that is adding or taking away calories. Where people are becoming confused is with carbohydrates.
The logic is easy to follow. If you lower carbohydrate intake, which means dropping bread, potatoes, pasta and (here’s a surprise) mangoes as well as a host of other foods, you can lose weight. But it’s not the gluten it is the carbohydrates. There are also as many other ways to lose weight, and this is not meant to suggest that dropping carbohydrates is any more effective.
There is a small group of people, only 1 in 100 in the U.S., who either have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. For these people, gluten makes them ill and it is counter-productive for them to eat products which contain it.
For the rest of us, we need grains in our diet. If we want to lose weight we need to eat a healthy balanced diet which includes all the food groups. We should reduce calorie intake and if possible exercise more. See that’s not hard.