Gluten has become a greater topic of conversation over the last decade.
As we’re more careful with what we eat and the rise in those being diagnosed with intolerances, we’re more aware of what’s in our food.
It can be difficult to know what is healthy and what isn’t sometimes as the information is always changing.
Those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance adopt gluten-free diets for their health. However, some prefer to cut gluten out of their diets for personal preference.
Carbohydrates and gluten often get lumped together, normally center-stage as the ‘enemy’ when it comes to healthy choices and especially when trying to lose weight.
You may be wondering if carbohydrates and gluten are the same things, often we assume that gluten-free means the food is free of carbohydrates.
In this article, we are going to explore the differences between the two and what that means.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is the general name for proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, barley, and triticale.
These proteins help to give the foods their shape acting as a bonding agent or glue that holds the food together.
Gluten can be found in many types of foods, not just bread.
More uncommon foods that contain gluten are sauces, salad dressings, soups, beer, and food coloring.
Those with gluten intolerance must therefore be very careful and vigilant when reading food labels to ensure they won’t get sick from consuming some of these products.
Gluten-Free Vs. Carb-Free
Foods commonly associated with gluten like bread, pasta, and cereals also contain carbohydrates so it’s not silly to assume that carbs and gluten are the same things.
These two terms have some key differences which demonstrate that they aren’t the same at all.
When someone adopts a gluten-free diet, they usually don’t do so out of choice. This is typically due to a medical requirement such as allergies or intolerances.
Gluten-free diets refer to eating foods, sauces, drinks, and any other food products that do not contain gluten in them.
As mentioned, this is a protein that is used in certain foods to help maintain a certain shape or keep the food combined.
Grocery stores make gluten-free foods easy to spot with well-known labels and even whole isles of free-from foods.
When it comes to gluten-free foods, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any carbs in them. The bread, pasta, and cereal options for gluten-intolerant people are still loaded with carbs.
Carb-free diets are quite extreme and eliminate almost all carb sources such as whole grains, fruits, and most vegetables.
In comparison to gluten-free, carb-free diets or low-carb diets are strongly advised against as they can lead to a lack of nutrients in the body.
Carbohydrates occur naturally in fruits and vegetables which contain essential vitamins and minerals such as fiber, Vitamin A, B, and C.
These are all essential for maintaining normal bodily functioning and a healthy lifestyle.
We need certain carbohydrate sources to provide our bodies with energy.
Food is turned into glucose which is converted into energy, supporting our bodily functions and enabling us to engage in physical activity like going to the store to buy groceries.
Is Gluten-Free Carb-Free?
Long story short, gluten-free doesn’t mean carb-free. You don’t need to adopt a gluten-free diet to avoid carbohydrates.
Cutting out processed foods is the best way to avoid carb-heavy foods such as white bread and pasta.
Complex carbohydrates are made of sugar molecules that are strung together in long, complex chains and are found in whole grains, vegetables, and beans.
These help to turn glucose into energy and are considered to be ‘good’ forms of carbs.
Certain foods are both gluten-free and either low in carbs or rich in complex carbs.
For example, sweet potatoes, quinoa, rice, sweet corn, popcorn without additional flavorings, gluten-free pasta, and millet.
Packed with fiber, nutrients, and complex carbs, these foods are great substitutes compared to their starchy processed counterparts.
Eating A Naturally Low-Carb Diet
If you’ve come here wondering whether gluten-free foods have no carbs in them as you’re trying to reduce the amount you eat or are opting for a carb-free diet, don’t feel disappointed with the answers.
Cutting out processed forms of carbohydrates is a healthy solution.
Eliminating processed foods such as soda, chips and white bread is a great way to cut out carbohydrates full of unnecessary sugar and additives.
Refined carbs have little nutritional value, fiber, or Vitamin B sources.
This is also one of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of developing health concerns such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
In comparison, lean sources of protein, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and some dairy products are all great healthy sources of carbohydrates.
As carbs naturally occur in many foods, it’s important not to cut them out completely, we just need to make better choices.
Otherwise, you wouldn’t eat enough variety to sustain a balanced and healthy diet or have enough energy to go about your daily life.
Factors To Consider
We all have different dietary needs based on our age, gender, weight, height, and activity levels. What diets work for some, may not work for you.
Before adopting a low-carb diet, it is important to talk to your doctor or a dietitian to ensure that you are on the right track to getting all the essential nutrients you need.
If you’ve previously had quite a high-carb diet, it may be too much of a shock which means the diet is less likely to work.
To answer the main question in this article, no gluten-free doesn’t mean carb-free. Many food products can be gluten-free and remain high in carbohydrates.
If you’ve opted for a gluten-free diet in the hopes of losing weight, unfortunately, it’s not the quick fix you were hoping for.
Cutting out processed carbohydrates on the other hand will help you lose weight.
We hope you found this article interesting and informative, helping you to make healthy food choices.