gluten free diets: what's the hype?

You may have heard of gluten, but what is it, and why are people avoiding it?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat products, responsible for giving bread and bread products their elastic and springy texture (1).

The gluten-free craze has been going strong for decades, so there’s likely something to it. Many people who have a sensitivity to gluten avoid it out of necessity. For those with a gluten-intolerance, the ramifications of eating gluten can be very uncomfortable. (2) It can provoke inflammation, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Unfortunately, gluten sensitivity is on the rise (3). Probably not worth that piece of toast!

Some people must avoid gluten because they have a serious autoimmune disease called celiac disease. Celiac disease is a highly under-diagnosed disease that affects 1 in 100 people worldwide (4). In celiac cases, ingesting gluten leads to irreversible intestinal damage and without intervention can lead to many other diseases including osteoporosis, MS, epilepsy, and diabetes (5). For people with celiac, avoiding gluten is vital.

But a gluten intolerance and celiac disease aren't the only reasons people avoid gluten. Cutting gluten from your diet, when combined with low-carb intake, has been shown to aid in weight-loss.

Does avoiding gluten help with weight loss?

A high-gluten diet may also be a high-carb diet. If you are consuming high quantities of gluten, you are likely eating high-carb foods like bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, and fried food. So avoiding gluten products is a great first step in your weight loss journey! However, a gluten-free diet does NOT equal a carb-free diet! Just because something is labeled gluten-free does not mean it is low-carb so read those labels (6). Often people who follow a gluten-free diet substitute wheat products with rice and corn products which are high in carbs. While avoiding gluten may help some people lead a healthier lifestyle, particularly if they have health issues associated with gluten, simply being gluten-free is not the answer to weight-loss (7).

Which is better, a gluten-free diet or low-carb diet?

Combining a gluten-free diet WITH a low-carb lifestyle is the approach most likely to give you the rapid weight-loss results you desire while healing internal functions such as inflammation, leaky gut, mental fog, and behavioral issues. A diet consisting mainly of lean proteins, healthy fats, whole foods, and zero gluten will lead to an overall healthier state.

By following a ketogenic diet, you are naturally avoiding gluten products, so combining the two diets is seamless when approached from a low-carb angle. Just remember, the same can’t be said in the reverse.

Keto equals gluten-free

Gluten-free does not equal keto

Keto is the healthier lifestyle as it incorporates all the benefits of low-carb and gluten-free. If you are simply dieting to heal certain gluten-intolerant health issues like the ones mentioned above, a gluten-free diet may be a good option for you. However, if you are seeking a lifestyle that offers all the healing qualities of a gluten-free and ketogenic diet while also losing weight, increasing energy, dispelling brain fog, and the many other benefits of a low-carb diet, a ketogenic diet may be the best choice for you (8).

Check out niKETO blogs for more information about the benefits of low-carb living.


(1) Janelle Smith, MS, RD Celiac Disease Foundation. What is Gluten? Accessed Sep. 23, 2018.

(2) Francesco Tovoli, Chiara Masi, Elena Guidetti, et al. Clinical and diagnostic aspects of gluten related disorders. World J Clinical Cases. 3(3): 275–284. March 16th, 2015.

(3) Maureen M Leonard and Brintha Vasagar. US perspective on gluten-related diseases. Clin Exp Gastroenterol 7: 25–37. 2014. Published online Jan. 24th, 2014.

(4) Detlef Schuppan, Prof. Dr. med. and Klaus-Peter Zimmer, Prof. Dr. med. The Diagnosis and Treatment of Celiac Disease. Dtsch Arztebl Int. Dec. 2013.110(49): 835–846.Published online Dec. 6th, 2013.

(5) WebMD. What Are the Complications from Celiac Disease? Accessed Sep. 23rd, 2018.

(6) Dr. Eric Berg DC. Is Gluten Free Okay on a Ketogenic Diet? Accessed Sep. 23rd, 2018.

(7) Catherine Cross. Gluten-free industry is healthy, but is the food? CMAJ. 185(13): E610. CMAJ. Sep. 17th, 2013.

(8) Ryan W.Y. Lee,Michael J. Corley,e Alina Pang, et al. A modified ketogenic gluten-free diet with MCT improves behavior in children with autism spectrum disorder. Physiol Behav. 188: 205–211. May 1st, 2018.