How to Lose Weight with a Gluten-Free Diet

by Andrea Cespedes Google

About Andrea Cespedes

Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.


Celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction to wheat, barley and rye, affects approximately 3 million Americans. Symptoms vary widely among those afflicted and include digestive ailments, skin rashes and depression. Celiac disease prevents nutrients from being absorbed properly, and many sufferers actually lose substantial weight before they are diagnosed. Gluten intolerance is a less severe manifestation of the condition, and according to an article in "U.S. News and World Report" from October 2008, may affect about 15 percent of the population. In order to resolve either condition, a strict gluten-free diet must be followed.

Step 1

Figure out your daily calorie needs for your weight loss goal. Use an online calorie counter, like the one on the American Cancer Society's website, to determine your daily burn by plugging in your height, weight, age, gender and activity level. Eat about 500 calories less than this amount to lose a pound per week. Weight loss is a matter of eating fewer calories than you burn—regardless of whether gluten is included in your diet. Eating gluten free is not a license to swear off exercise either.

Step 2

Focus your meals on lean proteins and carbohydrates coming from fruits and vegetables. Choose lean beef, fish, skinless chicken, egg whites and whey powder as your protein sources. Eat multiple servings of green, leafy vegetables -- like lettuce, spinach, broccoli and kale -- daily. Snack primarily on fruits, cut-up vegetables and, if your body tolerates it, low-fat dairy.

Step 3

Limit your intake of refined grains. Swear off breads made with white rice flour. Avoid relying on rice pasta and white rice to replace your wheat-filled versions.

Step 4

Experiment with gluten-free whole grains. Keep some healthy grain-based carbohydrates in your diet to provide extra fiber, nutrients and energy. Grains like amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and millet offer new flavor profiles and are filling. Stick to half-cup servings of these grains at meals to keep calories in check. Flavor them with fresh herbs, spices, diced vegetables and broth rather than butter or full-fat cheese.

Step 5

Do not purchase gluten-free cakes and cookies thinking they are healthier than wheat flour versions. Often they contain more calories than their gluten-filled counterparts because extra sugar, eggs and fat are added to simulate the missing gluten

Step 6

Avoid relying on processed gluten-free snacks as a replacement for crackers, snack mixes and other treats containing wheat. These products are also quite calorie dense. Spread nut butter on apples or bananas instead of gluten-free crackers and bread, use vegetables to dip into hummus instead of gluten-free chips and create a sandwich using corn tortillas or lettuce leaves rather than gluten-free rolls that can top out at 350 calories per serving.

Items you will need

  • Lean proteins
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts/nut butter
  • Gluten-free grains (amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, millet)


  • Many grocery stores clearly label gluten-free products and sections. Some even supply lists for easy gluten-free shopping.


  • Read labels carefully. Gluten can be hidden in in products such as soy sauce or barley malt flavorings. If you have been prescribed a gluten-free diet by a doctor, call food manufacturers to be sure products with questionable ingredients -- like modified food starch -- are gluten free.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or