Speaking of filling a void, let’s talk about gluten, and whether a gluten-free diet for men is a good idea.
Some of the questions we’ll answer are where did this gluten-free craze come from, what does gluten-free mean, and what are the benefits of eating gluten-free. But first of all…
What the hell is gluten anyway?
In some ways the gluten-free trend is a textbook demonstration of creating a “need” where there really isn’t one, or at least not on the massive scale we see today.
Today there are thousands of products proudly waving the gluten-free banner.
On the other hand, tens of thousands of other products that humans have been consuming for thousands of years do contain gluten, and they always have: foods like bread, cereal, pasta, beer, soy sauce, sausage, fried foods and many, many more.
That’s because gluten isn’t poison or a toxin or a demon of some sort, as some people seem to think. It’s simply a family of proteins found in certain cereal grains like wheat, rye, barley and oats – you know, grains that are the basis for so much of what we’ve been eating for millennia.
Why y’all hating on gluten?
So why the panic? “Glüten” sounds like it could be the little brother of Üter, the German boy on “The Simpsons.” Its sounds kind of rotund and dorky.
Why the hate?
To make a long answer short, honest celiac disease sufferers and shady grifters are largely to blame.
Starting in the early 2000s, a handful of studies claimed to show that the percentage of people who suffer from the hereditary intestinal condition called celiac disease was much, much higher than previously thought.
And don’t misunderstand – celiac disease ain’t pretty: when celiac sufferers eat foods containing gluten, it triggers an immune response that can cause diarrhoea, cramping, fatigue, bloating, and over time, irreparable damage to the lining of the small intestine.
But as the results of these studies spread, some less reputable “medical experts” began to promote a dubious link between gluten and other conditions, for instance chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disorders, general inflammation, and a myriad of less-easily explained – or testable – maladies.
As a result, more people began to self-diagnose as having “gluten sensitivity.”
From celiac to “sensitivity”
People who actually have celiac disease – the only substantial group that medical science can definitively say must restrict their gluten intake – make up less than 1 percent of the population.
Yet a recent unscientific survey of the shelves on a grocery store showed at least 1.8 million different gluten-free products, or one for each celiac sufferer.
Why is it, when approximately 0.5 percent of people have celiac disease, that 15 percent of people in the U.K. are pursuing a gluten-free diet – and fully 29 percent in the U.S.?
How about money and marketing.
By 2015 gluten-free products were a $12 to $23 billion a year industry depending on who you ask, and celebs hawked products and diets centered around “going gluten-free.” Between 2013 and 2015, there was a 136 percent growth in gluten-free products.
To this day, you can still find items from Greek yogurt to frozen veggies to bottled water – water, mind you – proudly claiming “gluten-free” status on their labels, despite the fact that nary a drop of gluten had ever dared approach them before.
Well, if so many people are doing it, it must be great, right?
Maybe, maybe not.
What is the definition of a gluten-free diet?
What astute readers of Blitz’d have probably already noticed is that products that contain gluten – like bread, pasta, beer, crackers, cakes and so much more – are also massive carb sinks.
These are the foods that your body converts into sugar, causing your glycemic levels to spike, leading to weight gain, sugar crashes, and hunger – rinse and repeat.
So when people like Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham came out in the early 2000s gushing about this super neat new “gluten-free” diet and how they lost weight on it, you could read between the lines and infer that it likely included a lower-carb diet profile as well.
That’s because naturally gluten-free foods include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, eggs, meat, poultry, and fish.
Again, if you’ve done any kind of research on a keto diet, all of that will sound very familiar to you. If you were to stick to whole, minimally processed foods like those listed above and call yourself gluten-free, you’d be good to go.
Unfortunately, faux-medical grifters and manufacturers specializing in cashing in on the latest diet trends can’t squeeze extra profit out of people buying fruits and veggies.
They’ve created this “need” in people who self-diagnose with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, and then they tell them, “Hey you don’t really have to give up bread or pasta! You can literally have your gluten-free cake and eat it too! We’ve invented a gluten-free version of EVERYTHING!”
Including water. <massive eye-roll.>
What are the benefits of eating gluten-free products, and what are the dangers?
The benefits of eating gluten-free, and the much-ballyhooed weight loss people like Gwyneth Paltrow and others tout has to do largely with reduced carbs, as we’ve discussed.
Remember too, these celebs have private chefs preparing dishes with high protein, high fats, and low carbs using fresh, whole foods.
But somewhere between the pages of celeb magazines and grocery store shelves, this awesome, whole foods-based diet got transformed into gluten-free bread, pasta, cookies, etc. etc., ad infinitum.
And while it may be true that these products contain no gluten, hoo-boy you should read their labels sometime and see what they DO contain.
That’s because in order to create gluten-free versions of foods humans have been making with disgusting, filthy, gluten-infected wheat, barley and rye for literally 30,000 years, manufacturers and their chemists had to unleash a slew of substances that mimic gluten.
The result is foods that are far more processed, full of chemicals, and bloated with additives.
And guess what else? Many if not most of these miracle gluten-free manufactured products still contain tons of carbs. So you’re not even getting the low-carb benefits of eating gluten-free!
Gwyneth gets her peppercorn-crusted salmon with asparagus spears sauteed in olive oil and garlic, and naturally, she loses weight. Your average Joe picks up a carb-heavy box of gluten-free doughnuts, bread and pasta and pats himself on the back – but then wonders why he can’t drop the pounds.
Just remember, if you eat like shit, you’ll get shit results.
A gluten-free doughnut is still a doughnut, after all.
So what happens to your body when you stop eating gluten?
But okay, let’s take someone who is looking at the benefits of eating gluten-free at face value and assume they truly do have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
Let’s have a look at some common gluten-free side effects.
Some or all of the following are among what happens to your body when you stop eating gluten, and what gluten withdrawal might look like:
Constipation: Whole-grain foods are important sources of much-needed fiber.
You may be hungrier: People who are genuinely gluten-intolerant often feel nauseous after eating bread. Switching to a gluten-free diet can cause your appetite to bounce back.
Your weight might yo-yo: Anytime you make radical changes to your diet, weight loss and gain can swing wildly.
You might have more energy: It’s true that one gluten-free side effect is people report more energy. However, this also happens when you cut carbs in general and substitute foods that don’t cause blood sugar spikes and crashes.
Look, as stated previously, celiac disease is a very real and debilitating condition, and we take it very seriously. None of this is meant to degrade or belittle people who actually suffer from celiac, or those who have a genuine gluten sensitivity.
However, the numbers clearly show that those people are just a tiny, infinitesimal fraction of the masses who are mindlessly dumping billions into gluten-free products for their own dubious reasons.
As we always say here at Blitz’d, and as has always been the case since we came down out of the trees, a diet rich in natural, whole foods, heavy on the veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, clean meat, eggs and fish, leaning into higher protein and higher fat with reduced carbs may not be sexy or trendy, but it will give you the best results for health and weight maintenance.
Those are the real benefits of eating gluten-free – the right way.