Low Carb vs Low Fat Diets

Low Carb vs Low Fat Diets

I read a great article on the Wall Street Journal that inspired this post.

Over the last 20 years marketers and food manufactures have coaxed consumers into believing that the cause of rising obesity rates is due to our surplus fat intake. Consumers make choices they believe are healthy based on “healthy labels” when in fact they are not.We’re bombarded with supposedly guilt-free options: baked potato chips, fat-free ice cream, low-fat candies, which people think are healthy options because they are marketed as “low-fat” or “natural”. Yes, a high amount of saturated fat and trans fat is not good, but healthy fats such as the monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3s have the opposite effect and are essential to a healthy/well-balanced diet.

Myth: All fats are equal—and equally bad for you.

Fact: Saturated fats and trans fats are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. But monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease.

Myth: Fat-free means healthy.

Fact: A “fat-free” label doesn’t mean you can eat all you want without consequences to your waistline. Many fat-free foods are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and calories.

Myth: Eating a low-fat diet is the key to weight loss.

Fact: The obesity rates for Americans have doubled in the last 20 years, coinciding with the low-fat revolution. Cutting calories is the key to weight loss, and since fats are filling, they can help curb overeating.

In recent years people have started to figure out that fat may not be main contributor to rising obesity rates, but a surplus of processed carbohydrates may actually be at the forefront of our problems. Cue, the “low-carb” diets where consumers restrict carb intake to under 100g/day. A recent article published by the Wall Street Journal claims that “A diet based on healthy carbohydrates—rather than a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet—offers the best chance of keeping weight off without bringing unwanted side effects”… and I couldn’t agree more.

The Study

Goal:  The study was designed to look at the impact of the three diets on measures of energy expenditure, in addition to assessing hormones, fat levels in the blood and other health markers.

  • Participants followed a low glycemic food plan that focused on  fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. The Study explains while people who follow a low-carb diet also lose weight effectively, they have trouble keeping it off and encounter unwanted side effects.
  • Participants were placed on one of three diets for a month: a low-fat diet limiting fats to 20% of total calories; a low-carbohydrate diet modeled on the Atkins diet, limiting carbohydrate intake to 10% of total calories; and a low-glycemic-index diet, which contained 40% of total calories from carbohydrates, 40% from fats and 20% from protein. Participants were then switched to the other two diets during two additional four-week periods.

Results

  • “The low-fat diet had the worst effect” on energy expenditure, Dr. Ludwig said. Participants on that diet also had increases in triglycerides, a type of fat, and lower levels of so-called good cholesterol. “We should avoid severely restricting any major nutrient and focus on the quality of the nutrient,”
  • The low-carb diet had the biggest boost in total energy expenditure, burning about 300 calories more per day than those on the low-fat diet—about the same as an hour of moderate exercise. But that bump came at a cost: increases in cortisol, a stress hormone, and a measure of inflammation called CRP, which can raise the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
  • Those on the low-glycemic-index diet burned about 150 calories a day more than those on the low-fat diet without any negative impacts on cholesterol levels or various hormones, making it the ideal diet, Dr. Ludwig said. The glycemic index measures the impact of carbohydrates on blood-sugar levels.

Conclusion and Takeaway

A balanced diet filled with healthy fats and healthy carbohydrates is ideal for loosing weight and keeping it off. Yes a low-carb diet can be effective, but you may develop other health risks, suffer from low energy levels, and risk  putting weight back on. Carbohydrates are used by our body as energy that can help sustain an efficient and worth-while workout. If your workout is jeopardized due to an nonavailability of adequate energy levels from carbohydrates then your exercise goals are compromised. Just to clarify; I am not advocating people go load up on pasta, breads, cereals, and other processed carbs. The key is to make sure the carbohydrates you do consume all come with a healthy dose of fiber and protein with a low glycemic index from things like fruit, vegetables, minimally processed oats and whole grains.

My Favorite Carb Sources

Quinoa

Steel Cut Oats

Black Beans

Source:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304458604577490943279845790.html?mod=e2tw

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin
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Balance Your Day With These Great Meals

Balance Your Day With These Great Meals

According to MayoClinic.com, eating more frequently reduces your risk of obesity by decreasing the blood insulin response to long fasts that increase fat storage and weight gain. It’s important to plan your grazing to ensure you eat the right amount of calories and get the vitamins and minerals you need over the span of 14-18 hours.

16 ounces of cold water

  • The first thing I do when I wake up is have 16 ounces of cold water. Water is the most important nutrient for your body and sleeping 6-10 hours without fluid intake induces mild dehydration.
  • Studies show that drinking cold water can increase metabolism as much as 25% for 2 hours after finishing.

 Breakfast

Half a grapefruit- Grapefruits are high in enzymes that burn fat. They have high amounts of water content which helps boost metabolism as well as containing numerous antioxidants.

  1. Calories- 40
  2. Carbs- 9g
  3. Fat- 0g
  4. Protein- 1g
  5. Sodium-0g
  6. Sugar-5g

2 eggs scrambled & chicken breast- Eggs and chicken are great sources of lean protein that are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Studies show that a breakfast high in protein will keep you feeling full throughout the morning. 

  1. Calories- 300
  2. Carbs- 0g
  3. Fat- 13 g
  4. Protein- 37 g
  5. Sodium-270g
  6. Sugar-0g

Vegetable mix broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, & hummus- Vegetables in the morning allow you to get a good balance of vitamins and minerals to start of your day. Vegetables mixed with the healthy fats from the hummus can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

  1. Calories- 180
  2. Carbs- 25g
  3. Fat- 3 g
  4. Protein- 8 g
  5. Sodium-250g
  6. Sugar-9g

100% Organic arabica black coffeeCoffee beans are loaded with antioxidants that help combat cancer and prevent type 2 diabetes. 

  1. Calories- 5
  2. Carbs- 0g
  3. Fat- 0g
  4. Protein- 0 g
  5. Sodium-0g
  6. Sugar-0g

Mid Morning Snack 

Plain greek yogurt with whey protein/flaxseed – With twice the protein of normal yogurt and no preservatives or artificial flavors, greek yogurt paired with flaxseed and whey protein is a great source of probiotics and omega 3 fatty acids.

  1. Calories- 300
  2. Carbs- 12g
  3. Fat- 4g
  4. Protein- 38 g
  5. Sodium-100 g
  6. Sugar-11g
Kiwi-Kiwi fruits are rich in many vitamins, flavonoids and minerals. In particular, they contain a high amount of vitamin C (more than oranges), as much potassium as bananas and a good amount of beta-carotene.
  1. Calories- 50
  2. Carbs- 11g
  3. Fat- 0g
  4. Protein- 1 g
  5. Sodium-0 g
  6. Sugar-7g

Lunch

Steel cut oats/quinoa with walnuts/chia seeds/mixed berries/cinnamon- This oatmeal blend is a great source of slow digesting carbohydrates that can be used for energy. The walnuts/berries/cinnamon provide healthy fats and potent antioxidants. For more info see on this meal see http://www.builtlean.com/2012/03/14/steel-cut-oats-recipe/

  1. Calories- 390
  2. Carbs- 35 g
  3. Fat- 5 g
  4. Protein- 11 g
  5. Sodium-60 g
  6. Sugar-10g

Edamame- Soy beans are a great alternative source of protein and dietary fiber superstar. 

  1. Calories- 120
  2. Carbs- 10 g
  3. Fat- 5 g
  4. Protein- 11 g
  5. Sodium- 5 g
  6. Sugar-2 g

Post Workout

10 g of Branch Chain Amino Acids (during workout)BCAA’s support everything from anabolic muscle-building to high intensity endurance training and are among the 9 essential amino acids that help fuel muscle repair and recovery. 

100% Whey isolate protein (unflavored/no additives) with glutamine– A great source of protein with no added sugars or artificial flavors you get with most products. Glutamine helps minimize breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism

  1. Calories- 120
  2. Carbs- 1 g
  3. Fat- 0 g
  4. Protein- 25 g
  5. Sodium- 30 g
  6. Sugar-1 g

Banana-Eating food rich in carbohydrates, like a banana, between 15 and 60 minutes after a workout is most advantageous to your muscles and glycogen recovery. The nutrition-rich fruit contains potassium, carbohydrates, protein and vitamin C.

  1. Calories- 100
  2. Carbs- 27 g
  3. Fat- 0 g
  4. Protein- 1 g
  5. Sodium- 0 g
  6. Sugar-14 g

Mid Afternoon Snack

Broccoli with natural almond butter- Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse with noteworthy nutrients including vitamin a, c, beta-carotene, calcium, folic acid, and fiber. Pair this with healthy monounsaturated fats and the protein you get with almond butter makes this combination a great snack.

  1. Calories 210
  2. Carbs- 12 g
  3. Fat- 16 g
  4. Protein- 10 g
  5. Sodium- 80 g
  6. Sugar-3 g

Tea (Chinese oolong)-Tea is loaded with catechins which is essential in aiding your immune system and can reduce the risk of four of the major health problems: stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes.

Dinner

Wild Atlantic Salmon-Salmon is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B and D as well as the minerals calcium, iron, phosphorus and selenium. This is also an excellent source of lean protein. 

  1. Calories 300
  2. Carbs- 0 g
  3. Fat- 20 g
  4. Protein- 35 g
  5. Sodium- 100 g
  6. Sugar-0 g

Brussels sprouts/mushroom/onion mix-Brussels sprouts are  high in protein, accounting for more than a quarter of their calories. The sprouts are very high in fiber and belong to the disease-fighting cabbage  family.

  1. Calories 120
  2. Carbs- 10 g
  3. Fat- 0 g
  4. Protein- 10 g
  5. Sodium- 10 g
  6. Sugar-4 g

Spinach salad with tomatoes/mixed peppers/avocado/flaxseed- Spinach is another super-food that should be apart of everyone’s daily regimen in combination with antioxidant loaded mixed peppers/tomatoes and the healthy fats from avocado and flaxseed make this a great side.

  1. Calories 150
  2. Carbs- 7 g
  3. Fat- 10 g
  4. Protein- 10 g
  5. Sodium- 30 g
  6. Sugar-10 g
Nightime Snack
Cottage CheeseCottage cheese before bed gives you an excellent source of casein protein which is a slow absorbing protein that will help your muscles recover over night. 
  1. Calories 100
  2. Carbs- 0 g
  3. Fat- 2 g
  4. Protein- 15 g
  5. Sodium- 400 g
  6. Sugar-5 g

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From South Bend,

Kevin

 

The Best Food Swap You Can Make

Lettuce wraps vs. tortillas

With time and convenience being such a big factor in people’s eating decisions and habits, having easy options is always a plus. Throwing  some turkey, chicken, or leftover meat in a wrap for the next day’s lunch is always a great meal idea and lunchtime staple. With an extra 300 calories and 50 carbs, generic tortillas and wraps can turn today’s lunch into a carb-loaded hazard. Below is the breakdown of some popular tortillas that are common among lunchtime meals.

Nutritional Breakdown

Chipotle Flour Tortilla 13″ inch

  • Calories-290
  • Fat-9 g
  • Carbs-44 g
  • Sodium- 670 g
  • Protein- 7 g

Mission Flour Taco Tortilla 8″ inch

  • Calories- 146
  • Fat- 3 g
  • Carbs- 25 g
  • Sodium- 249 mg
  • Protein- 4 g

Taco bell heat pressed tortilla 13″

  • Calories- 317
  • Fat- 8 g
  • Carbs- 52 g
  • Sodium- 887 mg
  • Protein- 9 g

Butterhead Lettuce (1 large leaf)

  • Calories- 2
  • Fat- 0 g
  • Carbs- 0 g
  • Sodium- 0 g
  • Protein- 0

Romaine Lettuce (1 large outer leaf)

  • Calories- 5
  • Fat- 0
  • Carbs- 1 g
  • Sodium- 1 g
  • Protein- 0 g
A Great Recipe “Asian Lettuce Wrap”

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced

cooking sauce:
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil

6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, peeled and minced
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and diced
½ cup bamboo shoots, drained and diced
½ cup water chestnuts, drained and diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 head butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce, washed and leaves separated

garnish:
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Directions

1. Place the first five ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together. Pour mixture over the chicken and stir together. Set aside and allow chicken to marinate for 10 minutes.
2. Place all ingredients for cooking sauce into a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
3. Place 2 tablespoons oil into a large skillet over high heat. Sauté chicken for 6 to 8 minutes or until half-cooked. Remove from skillet and set aside.
4. Pour remaining oil into the same skillet and place over high heat. Sauté the ginger, garlic and shiitake mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Add the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add chicken back into the skillet; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Pour the cooking sauce over the mixture and stir together. Lower the heat to medium and allow the mixture to thicken, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the green onions. Adjust seasonings.
6. Remove from heat and allow chicken mixture to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Top with a sprinkle of green onions and sesame seed and serve warm with crisp lettuce cups.

Conclusion

A lettuce wrap is a great alternative for a tortilla when making a meal. Some athletes, or those looking to gain weight and a more calorie dense meal, might make the argument that the tortilla gives them extra protein and calories to meet there needs. Instead of filling up on processed and empty carbs received from a tortilla, adding more meat, beans, or vegetables to make up for the calories you will be loosing from the tortilla is ideal.

Suggestion

Any time you can substitute a processed bun or wrap for something that is natural and has nutritional benefits is always encouraged. My suggestion is to not only substitute the lettuce for tortilla wraps, tacos, and burritos, but also for buns and bread. This will force you to add more of the “in between ingredients” which will provide more of a nutritional benefit to everyone.

From South Bend,

Kevin

Get Your Pasta Fix The Healthy Way

Get Your Pasta Fix The Healthy Way

The Problem

For those who have participated in a moderate level of competition or athletics you’re probably familiar with the term “carbo loading” with pasta. Complex carbs, like pasta, break down slowly in your digestive system and can help you sustain energy through a game, match, or workout. The problem is that 99% of the population doesn’t burn enough calories to require a high intake of complex carbohydrates from pastas and other carbohydrate-dense foods. However, people still love to eat pasta because it tastes great and easy to make.

The Solution

My recipe for a “pasta substitute” not only tastes better, but is lower in carbohydrates and made up of more vitamins and minerals. This pasta recipe can also curb hunger, increase energy levels, and deliver superior vitamins, minerals, and nutrition levels to your body.

The Ingredients (Makes 4 large servings or 6 medium servings)

  • 2 whole spaghetti squashes
  • 1 lb of shrimp
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • 4 cups of mushrooms
  • 2 whole tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 ounces of white wine
  • 1 tbsp. of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. of balsamic
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil

The Nutritional Breakdown (per large serving)

  • Calories-400
  • Saturated Fat-1 gram
  • Protein-47 grams
  • Carbohydrates-27 grams
  • Sodium-800 mg
  • Sugar-11 grams
  • Fiber-10 grams

For those looking to take in more calories, top the pasta with avocado and brussels sprouts.

Nutritional Breakdown (with 1 serving of brussels sprouts and avocado)

  • Calories-520
  • Saturated Fat-1 gram
  • Protein-55 grams
  • Carbohydrates-37 grams
  • Sodium-900 mg
  • Sugar-11 grams
  • Fiber-17 grams

How This Recipe Compares To Competitors 

Olive Garden’s Fettuccine Alfredo

  • Calories-1220
  • Saturated Fat-47
  • Sodium-1350
  • Carbohydrates-99
  • Fiber-5
  • Protein-36
Olive Garden’s Chicken Parmesan
  • Calories-1090
  • Saturated Fat-18
  • Sodium-3380
  • Carbohydrates-79
  • Fiber-27
  • Protein-83
Olive Garden’s Seafood Alfredo
  • Calories-1020
  • Saturated Fat-31
  • Sodium-2430
  • Carbohydrates-88
  • Fiber-9
  • Protein-50
The Comparison 
Honestly, I shouldn’t even need to give a detailed explanation of the difference in nutrition as the results above are pretty staggering.  I will point out that besides having about 1/3 the amount of sodium and significantly lower carbs, calories, and saturated fats, the vitamins and minerals you get from the spaghetti squash itself is far superior to what you will obtain from traditional pasta noodles served at most restaurants. Spaghetti squash is loaded with vitamin C, B-6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid and vitamin K… to name a few.
Cooking Instructions
Spaghetti Squash
1.Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half length wise and clean out seeds and excess leftovers.
2. Lightly drizzle the inside edges of the spaghetti squash in oil to soften the insides. Cook for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
3. Place the sliced mushrooms in the oven half way through squash cook time and cook for 15 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and fork the squash into spaghetti strands until the squash shell is bare.
Shrimp and Toppings (while squash cooks)
1.  Remove tails from shrimp.
2. Lightly coat a pan with canola oil and turn on a high temperature. Add the chopped garlic clove.
3. Add shrimp and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and soy sauce.
4. Add white wine to the edges of the pan.
5. Cook shrimp for 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is disolved.
6. Add spinach and tomatoes.Cover and simmer on low.
7. Add cooked mushrooms, spaghetti squash, and seared shrimp, spinach, and tomato to a large bowl.
8. Top with avocado and add brussel sprouts. (optional)
This is a great alternative to generic pasta with meat. Also, this is just a foundation. If you are looking to add more protein or calories, mixing in other great stuff like chicken and black beans is highly encouraged. I hope you enjoy this recipe and I appreciate all the great feedback and questions I have been receiving. Thanks.
From Naples,
Kevin


The 10 Commandments of Good Nutrition

The 10 Commandments of Good Nutrition; According to Katrina Evans.

This week I had a guest blogger, Katrina Evans, write an article in order to provide readers with a different vantage point of certain health and nutrition points that are vital to a healthy lifestyle. This is important in understanding that not everyone is going to agree on every aspect of health, nutrition, and exercise. For example, Katrina lists “no red meat” as commandment #4. As an athlete, I would say 1-2 servings of red meat a week is actually beneficial because the combination of iron, zinc, and amino acid complex. While small details like this will surface in some research, the foundation and guidelines in the most effective programs are generally the same. Thanks again Katrina.

Good nutrition and activity are both key to maintaining a healthy life. Keeping a balanced diet is important in weight control and can provide energy to stay productive. Not only that, but it can also greatly affect emotional and mental health, providing a balance in most areas of life. Regular exercise can even prevent conditions and disabilities like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even certain types of lung cancer.

With all the facts about the links among nutrition, fitness, and good health, there is no excuse to have an unhealthy diet or inactive lifestyle. Whether it’s walking two miles a day or following work-out videos, a good diet will always make the difference in any workout plan. Keeping these key concepts about nutrition in mind while devising a custom diet plan is a great starting point towards a healthier lifestyle:

1. Eat vegetables: Nobody wants to listen to their mom, but dark greens, garlic and mushrooms are full of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants that not only boost your immune system, but have the right fire power that slows or even prevents the development of cancer.

Diet Tips

2. Eat fruits: Fruits are delicious, sweet and refreshing. By loading up on fruits instead of pastries or baked goods, dieters can feel better about themselves while enjoying a sweet treat. Fruits like blueberries and grapes are also linked to the prevention of cell damage caused by cancer.

 3. Switch to whole grains: Whole grains are full of antioxidants and fiber which is a dieter’s best friend normalizing bowel integrity and health while optimizing weight loss as well.

4. No red meats: Red meats, as delicious as they can be, are loaded with saturated fat and “bad” cholesterol offering no fiber.

5. Eat it raw: Raw foods offer more antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber than they do when cooked, the same kinds of antioxidants found to prevent colon cancer.

6. Drink water: Drinking just eight cups of water is not as hard as it seems. Substituting other drinks with water will cleanse the body, replenish organs, and keep the immune system at its best. according to Discovery News, scientists found that obese dieters who drank two cups of water before each meal lost 5 pounds more than a group of dieters who didn’t increase their water intake.

7. Enjoy immune-boosting spices: Spices like garlic, turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, basil, cilantro, curry powder and parsley are not only terrific ways to dress up healthy ingredients but are also full of anti-oxidants as well as anti-inflammatory properties that boost the immune system.

 8. Don’t burn it: Recently, carcinogens in overcooked meat made it to the National Toxicology Program list of potential cancer causers from ScienceNews.com so, watch out!

 9. Stop overeating: By drinking more water and eating fiber-rich foods, it’ll be easier to control cravings and overeat. It doesn’t hurt to over-indulge in lots of water every now and then.

10. Quit the other habits: This one is huge. Bad habits like smoking and drinking too much will be counterproductive to good nutrition and exercise. We all know that they cause cancer and other diseases, so why even risk it?

 Pie chart [see text description below.]

Katrina Evans is a recent graduate from the  University of Central Florida writing to fully support health and wellness for all. She wants to be a difference in people’s lives seeing how devastating cancer can be for people and their families. Katrina also is a fruit junkie who reads all the time, works to stay fit, and listens to cool podcasts.

Thanks for reading, let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From Naples,

Kevin

kdeeth21@gmail.com

Is It Time To Go Gluten-Free?

Is It Time To Go Gluten-Free?

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past couple years then you have probably heard about the “gluten-free” diet. Here is a quick synopsis to get you up to speed.

  • Gluten is a protein found in most grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats, that is consumed all over the world.
  • Gluten-free diets were originally formulated to treat celiac’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects 1% of the US population who are allergic to gluten and gluten products. In recent years, upwards of 6-10%  have been treated with mild cases of a “gluten sensitivity”.
  •  Some evidence attributes gluten to numerous diseases ranging  from obesity to autism and everything in between. There is also some evidence that shows gluten possibly contributing to overall inflammation in the body which is a major cause of more serious illnesses such as heart disease and joint pain.
  • A gluten-free diet allows for fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, many dairy products, rice, corn, soy, potato, tapioca, beans, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot, amaranth, nut flours and many specific gluten-free products while excluding all ordinary breads, pastas, and many convenience (processed) foods.
The Science In Support Of A Gluten Free Diet
  • When the human body senses the gluten, it needs to break it down, and it takes fairly strong enzymes to do that. The small intestine is not necessarily designed to digest large amounts of processed carbohydrates and gluten dense foods present in the evolving “Western Diet”. Therefore, the 99% of Americans who don’t have celiac’s disease also tend to respond favorably to a gluten-free diet.

The Benefits And Hype

  • While people with celiac disease have little choice but to avoid gluten, others may be avoiding gluten in an effort to;
  1. Trim pounds
  2. Benefit cholesterol levels
  3. Aid in digestion
  4. Increase energy levels
  • Wheat and other grains associated with the gluten-free diet are considered moderate to high on the Glycemic Index. ( A measurement of the type or quality of carbohydrates in a particular food and how fast they raise blood glucose levels. AKA the lower the better) Anything with a Glycemic Index rating over 50 is considered counterproductive for fat loss in high quantities. Many foods considered “healthy” like some breakfast cereals often contain a GI of 70+. More on the Glycemic Index to come later this month.
  • Marketers estimated in a 2008 study that 15% to 25% of consumers desired or wanted gluten-free foods, even though doctors estimate just 1% of actually having an allergy to gluten itself.
  • Gluten-free diets have gone mainstream getting endorsements from people like Oprah to Chelsea Clinton. In the most recent endorsement, Madonna was publicized as serving gluten-free brownies at her 52 birthday,
  • Many mainstream companies have created gluten-free products as well.

The Reality 

  • I believe the increased energy levels and documented weight loss isn’t from substituting generic whole grain bread for gluten-free bread or gluten-free products in general. Instead, people (excluding those with celiacs) “feel better” because they consume fewer fast and processed foods, which tend to contain gluten. They are substituting starchy carbs, breads, and convenience foods for more fruits, vegetables, and other natural carbohydrates.
  • In fact, many processed gluten-free foods and gluten-free junk foods contain almost twice the calories as their traditional counterparts, not to mention they are usually much more expensive. Processed gluten-free foods are generally lower in fiber, so you won’t stay full as long, creating an increase on overall caloric intake in the long term.
  • It’s a surprising statistic, but one study found that 81% of people suffering from celiacs disease (gluten intolerance) who followed a gluten-free diet actually gained weight. That’s because there is a common misconception that anything labeled “gluten-free” must be good for you.

  • Many gluten-free products are not fortified or enriched and contain lower amounts of nutrients such as folate, iron, and fiber than other foods
  • Some other drawbacks of specific gluten-free cultivated products;
  1. Less fiber than whole grain products
  2. Lower levels of certain essential vitamins and nutrients
  3. Avoiding grains with a gluten-free diet may mean eating fewer of these enriched products
  4. Manufacturers replacing gluten with more calorie dense substances causing an increase in overall caloric intake.
  5. THE COST FACTOR
The Cost Factor For Specific Gluten Free Products (not substituting products containing gluten for fruits and veggies)
The following data is from a 2007 US Government study. It shows that the cost of gluten-free products are considerably higher than their equivalent wheat filled products. Here are some extreme cases;
  1. Wheat flour $0.34/lb TO Brown rice flour $1.89/lb
  2. Wheat bread $1.09/loaf TO Gluten-free bread $6.00/loaf
  3. Wheat pasta $0.87/lb TO Gluten free pasta $3.69/lb
  4. Chocolate chip cookies $2.69/lb TO Gluten free chocolate chip cookies $12.83/lb
  5. Wheat crackers $1.63/lb TO Rice crackers $9.12/lb
  • The average unit price for gluten-free products was $1.71
  • The average unit price of regular products was $0.61
Conclusion
So, the answer to the article is yes and no. If you are substituting regular wheat products like breads, pastas, and processed foods, for more natural foods like fruits and vegetables than, YES, a “gluten-free diet” is great. Should you start buying gluten-free pastas, breads, and mixes? NO. The benefits of gluten-free products don’t seem to outweigh the negatives of the cost and convenience factor. However, anytime you can substitute gluten dense products like a high carb tortilla or wheat wrap for a more natural lettuce wrap is highly encouraged and very beneficial. The benefits and weight loss people experience from a gluten-free diet is not buy substituting breads, pastas, and processed foods, for their more expensive gluten-free counterparts. It is by eliminating these foods completely or opting for a more natural version where people see benefits. (For example, using spaghetti squash noodles instead of starchy, high-carb pasta noodles.)
Saving your money on what you would have paid for a gluten-free product and spending it on something like organic produce, dairy, or grass-fed meats, is going to be much more beneficial to your overall diet and wallet. The last and most important fact of gluten-free diets is; Do people know one of the ingredients in some of the most popular beers around? Gluten! Have fun drinking this on Friday night if you are giving the gluten-free diet a shot.