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Gluten Free!

What the Fuck is Gluten, and Why is Everyone Scared of it?

Being ‘on a diet’ is cool, if you’re not dieting then what exactly are you doing with your life? How can you possibly expect to get thin if you’re not on some ridiculous, temporary plan that demonizes one type of food, which has obviously been the root of all your problems, all this time?

The latest trend in nutrition isn’t a diet as such, but rather, a total avoidance of something called Gluten. Suddenly, it’s fashionable to be Gluten intolerant, and even more so to tell everyone about this intolerance, like it’s some kind of trophy, in fact for women, a Gluten allergy seems to be this season’s must-have accessory, alongside a Micheal Kors handbag.

Now, when people talk about avoiding Gluten, do they know why, or even know what gluten is? According to this hilarious video, apparently not.

 

LOL! The thing is, I’m no scientist, so I can’t be aloof and scoff at these people for not being clued up on the moclecular structure of Gluten, but if you’re going to suddenly decide you’re intolerant, you should probably at least have some idea what Gluten actually is

 

What is Gluten?

All we need to know is that Gluten is protein found in wheat – therefore it’s present in stuff like bread, pasta, anything containing dough, cereal, oats, processed meat (think of all the stuff in sausages that isn’t meat), beer, as well as whole load of other stuff that you should be eating very infrequently anyway like cakes, biscuits, sweets, full sugar fizzy drinks and all the usual shit that makes you fat, sick, and look like Paul Potts.

It is true that some people actually are Gluten intolerant – i.e. they have what is essentially an allergic reaction to it when they eat it, and that a lot more people are Gluten sensitive – which means they experience light bloating and discomfort after they’ve eaten it.

 

List of foods containing Gluten
Imge credit http://lactosesintolerances.blogspot.co.uk/

 

It’s hardly surprising when you consider that the human body was never designed to eat all that man-made stuff, and that it makes up such a large part of so many people’s diets (how many people do you know that have cereal for breakfast, bread for lunch and pasta for dinner – coincidentally I bet a large percentage of those people have some kind of health problem or really need to lose some weight).

The point is, people focus on this word – ‘Gluten’ and think that avoiding it might be the answer to their problems – I’m not going to dispute that for one second, I think that cutting Gluten completely, or almost completely would be no bad thing for most people, but Gluten isn’t necessarily the thing that’s making you fat.

Generally speaking, foods that contain Gluten aren’t particularly nutritionally dense, and that’s a better reason to avoid them rather than simply because they contain a wheat protein that the whole world is suddenly;y terrified of. Although foods like bread, pasta and oats are energy dense, they won’t do much else for you, so wherever you can, I’d favour protein, fiberous carbohydrates and non-processed fats as a source of energy and nutrients over any Gluten foods.

 

Why Does the ‘Gluten free’ diet have such a cult following?

Because like many other ineffective diets, it focuses on one food group, and promotes the idea that avoiding it completely is the answer to all life’s problems.

It offers an easy solution, but unfortunately it seldom delivers.

Gluten Free dating site spoof
I don’t know if this is a thing. I really hope not.
Image credit: http://www.finedininglovers.com/

It’s also slightly easier to stomach for most people than a low or no-carb diet because you can still eat pizza, pasta and bread, albeit Gluten free versions. The other thing is, people think it’s cool to avoid Gluten, it’s almost become an exclusive club, and more and more people are claiming to be Gluten intolerant/insensitive even when they’re not.

It’s also easy to wrongly self-diagnose. If you’ve just eaten a large Dominos with all the trimmings and you feel shit and bloated, that’s not because of the Gluten, it’s because you ate too much in one sitting. You pig.

 

Ok, ok, but will Gluten make me fat?

It depends what you mean by fat. If you mean ‘will it make me heavier?’, then the answer is no, excess calories will make you heavier – Gluten is not the culprit. However, if you are chasing optimum body composition, which for 99.9% of people is as much muscle mass and as little body fat as possible, then eating lots of Gluten contain products probably won’t do you any favours.

1000 calories worth of Steak and vegetables will propels you toward your goals a lot quicker than a vat of pasta – which most people seem to think is ‘healthy’. Why? It’s not just about the protein, red meat also contains saturated fat (which, by the way has been proven in recent studies NOT to increase the risk of heart disease), and coupled with all the phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals in the veg, makes for a highly nutritious meal.

Will eating Gluten now and again make you fat? No. If you have sound knowledge of good nutrition and practice the 80/20 rule at the very least, then the odd Gluten containing product now and again won’t do you any harm.

 

Would I recommend Gluten Free products?

If you’ve never eaten a Gluten free product, you should try one. Imagine eating a Jacob’s Cream Cracker Sanwich, made with two hearty slices of MDF, all washed down with a refreshing pint of sawdust. That’s what eating Gluten Free Oats is like. In fact, eating a Gluten free product will make you realise what a difference this compound makes.

I wouldn’t particularaly recommend Gluten Free products, for the same reason I wouldn’t encourage eating Gluten, they’re not particularly nutrient dense. If you absolutely can’t live without pasta, bread or oats, and have an intolerance or sensitivity to Gluten, then go for it. Just make sure you have a good few spare hours for chewing time, and a few gallons of water on hand.

If you DON’T have an intolerance or sensitivity to Gluten, then substituting your Gluten containing foods for non Gluten containing foods will be unlikely to change things.

Gluten Free!
This means nothing, really
Image credit: http://glutenfreejeni.blogspot.co.uk/

 

How do I know if I’m Intolerant or Sensitive to Gluten?

You don’t. Well, not for sure anyway, there’s no standardized test for it.

If you feel like crap after eating Gluten foods, then you probably have an intolerance or sensitivity, so stop eating them.

Get it out your head that bread and pasta are staple foods, because they’re not.

 

So What Can I eat Instead?

The reason giving up Gluten can be so tough for many people is, as I mentioned previously, Gluten foods make up such a large part of their diets.

It’s not really surprising; Gluten, and high carb foods in general are cheap, easy to prep and eat, portable, and last for a long time. The trade off is that they’re not very nutritious, and don’t have that many benefits for your body other than providing a source of energy. There are many other foods out there that will provide you with energy, as well as making you look and feel good.

Look to shift the balance of your diet away from nutrient poor, Gluten-containing (or Gluten-free) carbs  and towards protein, veg and fats. Instead of having cereal for breakfast, have eggs, or even steak.

It might sound alien to you, but there is NO reason why you can’t do it. Your body will thank you.

 

 

 

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