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Gluten-Free Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

It’s true, gluten may definitely be the culprit in many digestive issues. Even if you don’t have Celiac disease, a minor gluten sensitivity can cause digestive problems. However, gluten-free products come with their own set of issues. Did you know gluten free products are known to cause excessive weight gain? Just because the label reads “GLUTEN FREE” in big bold letters to make you think the product is “healthy” that is usually NOT the case. Gluten-free products which are loaded with gluten substitutes are not necessarily good for you. I you’ve read my previous blogs, you understand that usually when a product is “free” of something, eg. “sugar-free,” “fat-free,” “calorie-free,” etc., it means that the ingredient that is being left out of the recipe has to be replaced with something to compensate for the change in taste. In the case of gluten-free products, the ingredients replacing the gluten are usually either as bad or worse for you than the gluten itself! For instance, in gluten-free products you might find yourself eating a lot of starchy replacement flours like tapioca starch, cornstarch, and rice flour. You’d be surprised to know the gluten-free recipes in the products found in the specialty food aisle contains some of the most heavily processed food in the grocery store, which at MBX is a HUGE no, no! In fact, these powdered starches are among the few foods that increase blood sugar higher than even whole wheat. To clarify, this means that these blood sugar raising substitutes not only promote weight gain, but also increase blood sugar which can cause insulin resisting diabetes, cataracts, and/or arthritis. Therefore they are clearly NOT healthy replacements for wheat gluten.
It’s important you read your “gluten-free” labels and understand what the gluten is being replaced with. Here are some ingredients to look for and avoid:

1 | Tapioca Starch

Starch should be avoided at all cost, because it turns into sugar in the digestive system which leads to a spike in your blood sugar and also feeds bad bacteria in the gut. Tapioca starch in particular has now become one of the main ingredients used to replace wheat flour in most gluten-free products. It’s important to understand that starch is very high in carbohydrates, but hardly contains any fiber, fat, protein, vitamins or minerals, and basically just supplies empty calories that can spike blood sugar MORE than refined sugar does! This ingredient is often used as the primary flour replacement in so many foods that could be using healthier gluten-free flours, because it’s a cheaper substitute. So basically by eating products containing tapioca starch, you are feeding your body zero health benefits, but adding the increased risk of weight gain along with a plethora of poor health related diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. Do your healthy gut a favor and avoid this at all costs!

2 | Corn Starch

Another terrible starch! Cornstarch is made from corn—this is true. However, although the nutritional value of corn is worth noting, cornstarch doesn’t actually contain many nutrients at all. It is a processed starch that is often used as a thickener in cooking or even as a cleaning agent—yikes! I actually love using corn starch my house for removing stains and cleaning kitchen appliances. You can even use it to rid of stinky feet. Not exactly an appetizing ingredient when you think of it that way, is it? Keep in mind cornstarch is a processed starch, and it only contains calories and carbohydrates which means NO protein, NO fiber, NO vitamins and NO minerals. Cornstarch also goes through an extraction process that usually involves very high temperatures with harsh chemicals, and unless you buy GMO-free cornstarch it’s been modified in a way that doesn’t occur naturally. So basically, it’s has zero health benefits for you and instead causes weight gain!

3 | Enriched Flour

This is a tricky one because enriched flour is flour in which nutrients that were initially lost during processing have been added back in. However in this process, the fiber content is lost when the bran and/or germ of the wheat plant is removed. The reason this is bad is because when the bran and the germ (the parts of the wheat that contain fiber and nutrients) are removed, your body absorbs the new “enriched” flour differently. Instead of it being a slow process that gives you steady bursts of energy throughout the day, your body breaks down enriched flour more quickly, which then raises blood sugar and causes you to crave more carbs, which then leads to over-eating and weight gain.

MBX Helpful Tip

Instead of reaching for “gluten free” first find out if you even have a sensitivity to it. If you find you do, try these tips: 1. Make sure your meals are filled with whole real food. Stick to food that is rich in whole and unprocessed ingredients like vegetables, fruits and beans. 2. Read the ingredient list to find out if it is truly healthy. If there are unhealthy starches, sugars, and gums such as xanthan or guar, then it is NOT a healthy choice. 3. Avoid ALL starches. Not only are they are not nutritionally needed, they are only one molecule away from refined sugar.

Consuming gluten-free products has many downfalls, unfortunately. Besides weight gain and putting yourself at risk for several diseases, you may become nutrient deficient. When you continually eat these processed ingredients you can become deficient in several vitamins, minerals and fiber, due to the fact that they are lost in the process of making a product gluten-free. Without the nutrients that you need to feel your best, you are really setting yourself up for failure when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. My suggestion is: Simply stop buying processed gluten-free replacement foods that can sabotage your health and fill your diet with healthy whole foods (vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds, lentils, nuts) that are full of nutrients than not only nourish your body, but also help you avoid over-eating.

Disclaimer

Although my blog topics can be very beneficial to your overall health, they are not intended for the purpose of providing medical advice. All content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of published information on or through my website, blog, e-mails, programs and services. However, the information may inadvertently contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. Every effort has been made to present you with the most accurate, up-to-date information, but because the nature of diet, fitness and health research is constantly evolving, we cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of our content.

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Are you confused by all the conflicting diet and fitness information? Do you feel overwhelmed by what you should be doing to have optimal health? Then you’ve come to the right place!
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