Eating Carbs on a Gluten Free Diet
Eating Carbs on a Gluten Free Diet
About 25% of Americans follow a gluten free diet, for a variety of reasons. Some have a diagnosed gluten intolerance, like Celiac disease. Others eat gluten free for health benefits, such as reduced inflammation.
Because carbs and gluten often go together, many people assume that a gluten free diet is the same thing as a low or zero carb diet. But this is not true-many carbs do not contain gluten at all.
You can eat carbs on a gluten free diet, but you have to be careful. It is possible to accidentally eat gluten this way.
Very often, however, people who pursue a gluten free diet wind up eating a low carb diet as well.
Carbs vs Gluten: What’s the difference?
People often assume that carbs and gluten are the same thing, since they so often are together. Wheat, bread, and pasta are all carbohydrates and filled with gluten.
Gluten is actually a protein. It is a kind of glue that binds food together. Without it, bread wouldn’t stay together, and pasta would fall apart. Gluten free alternatives usually use some sort of substitute binder, like sorghum or potatoes.
Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are really sugar. They don’t always taste sweet, as more complex carbs like wheat differ from simple carbs like table sugar.
Your body ordinarily needs carbs as its primary source of energy. Gluten doesn’t fill as crucial a need, but most people eat lots of it because it is in the carbs they do eat.
Gluten free sources of carbs
There are many healthy sources of carbohydrates that do not contain gluten. These tend to be natural and unprocessed foods, not refined grains.
Some good examples include:
Starchy vegetables, like beets, carrots, peas, and yams.
Fruits, like bananas, grapes, apples, figs, and their juices.
Legumes, such as kidney beans and peanuts.
Potatoes, which are also a great source of fiber.
Quinoa, which is actually a seed, not a grain.
Corn and, yes, popcorn.
Rice, which is naturally gluten free, but be careful. Sometimes manufacturers add gluten containing ingredients. Always check the label.
Gluten free flours, which are usually made from ingredients like almond, buckwheat, sorghum, amaranth, and arrowroot.
Benefits of eating low carb and gluten free
Many people who go gluten free wind up eating low carb as well, since the majority of the carbs that people eat contain gluten.
This can be a good thing, as low carb diets provide a range of health benefits.
Carbohydrates can cause inflammation when consumed too much or too often, so low carb can help reduce inflammation.
Low carb diets tend to be very low in junk food, because most junk foods are pretty high in carbs to begin with. This is great, since junk food is low in nutrition and high in preservatives. Do you really want butylated hydroxyanisole in your body?
Many people find that they quickly lose weight when switching to a low carb diet. This may happen for many reasons, such as reduced overall caloric intake, or improved nutrition.
Problems to watch out for:
There are several potential problems to watch out for when eating carbs on a gluten free diet.
First and most obvious, be careful about eating anything that might have gluten in it. If you are at a restaurant, ask your server to make sure your order is gluten free, and mention that you can’t eat gluten.
Another issue to consider is the fact that gluten free diets are lower in protein than gluten filled diet. This is because gluten is, after all, a protein. Be sure to make up for it with other sources.
Going gluten free does usually mean fewer carbs, and that can create other problems, such as a loss of water and electrolytes. Normally, water is trapped in your bloodstream by bonding to carbohydrate molecules. With fewer carbs, a lot of water will leave your body, and take electrolytes with it.
Be sure to stay hydrated, and feel free to add a little salt to your food.
Conclusion: You absolutely can eat carbs on a gluten free diet
Eating carbs on a gluten free diet is possible, since there are many good sources of carbs that do not contain gluten. In fact, it may be healthier to eat carbs on a gluten free diet than on a gluten filled diet, since this will naturally cut out most junk food and low nutrition carbs.
Good alternatives to bread and wheat include rice, potatoes, fruit, legumes, and starchy vegetables.
Be sure to watch your water intake and also how much protein you eat. One good way to get extra gluten free, plant based protein is through CanDo’s protein bars. They come in a variety of flavors, and are low carb, low sugar, and gluten free.