Last Updated on January 18, 2022
Today, we’re going to be answering the question: is gluten-free less carbs? Is it a fact or a myth? In recent years, the gluten-free diet has become increasingly popular. And not just because diagnosis for gluten intolerance or celiac disease is much easier. It’s also because many people are choosing to follow a gluten-free diet. It’s even been used as a weight-loss trend! Let’s look at the differences between a low-carb diet and a gluten-free lifestyle.
What Is A Gluten-Free Diet?
Before my diagnosis, I naively knew very little of the gluten-free lifestyle and the limits it could have on your life. This lifestyle means removing any gluten from your diet. Gluten is a protein found in many foods and drink products – even some beauty products too.
Gluten can be found in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats (unless GF oats). Although gluten is present in many foods, the most common foods that contain gluten are foods high in carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, and cakes.
Is Gluten A Carbohydrate?
Gluten itself is a protein. However, the cereal grains in which you’ll find gluten (such as wheat, rye, and barley) are all carbohydrates. Often foods that contain a large proportion of these grains are high in carbohydrates (such as bread and pasta). Carbohydrates are a great source of energy, and don’t be fooled – foods that contain gluten are not the only carbohydrate-rich foods!
Read more about Is Whey Protein Concentrate Gluten Free?
Does Gluten-Free Mean Low Carb?
In short – absolutely not! Removing gluten does mean that you won’t be receiving any of the carbohydrates you usually would from gluten. However, most of the foods that you’ll use to replace the gluten in your diet are foods that are high in carbohydrates.
Some of these foods include:
- Any foods high in sugar and starch
It’s also important not to remove too many carbohydrates from your diet. Although they should be eaten in moderation, carbohydrates are where we receive most of our energy – so it’s integral as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
When you receive your diagnosis, you may experience some weight loss, but that is unlikely to be because of the gluten itself. It’s likely to be because your body is adjusting to a new diet and you have removed something that was potentially damaging your body (if celiac).
The trend seems to be to follow a gluten-free diet, but it’s only necessary if you’re intolerant or have celiac disease. It is not recommended as a diet to follow unless you absolutely have to.
Gluten Vs. Carbs: The Differences
Carbohydrates and gluten are very different substances. Carbohydrates consist mainly of sugar. Whereas gluten is a protein that is found in cereal grains (such as wheat, rye, and barley). Gluten is so often added to food products because it’s great as a thickener, stabilizer, and helping foods to keep their shape and hold together.
Removing just gluten from your diet isn’t dangerous if followed correctly. However, removing carbohydrates from your diet completely can be dangerous. While overeating carbohydrates isn’t good, we do need carbohydrates in our diet. While foods that aren’t seen as healthy (bread, pasta, and cereals) are high in carbohydrates, there are some foods high in carbohydrates that are good for you!
Vegetables, fruit, and milk products are all high in carbohydrates. These supply us with the vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need to thrive. These nutrients and vitamins include:
- Dietary Fiber
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
When you receive your diagnosis, you’ll likely meet with a dietician who will discuss the best ways to adjust to your new diet. It’s always advisable to meet with a healthcare professional when you’re starting a new diet, as it’s important to include all the nutrients you need to make it as balanced as possible.
Going gluten-free can change your metabolism and cause changes to your body if not followed correctly and in a balanced way.
Best Sources Of Carbohydrates
On a gluten-free diet, the best sources of carbohydrates to add to replace the loss of gluten are:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Butternut Squash
- Rice Pasta
- Buckwheat Pasta (confusing, but buckwheat is gluten-free!)
- Corn Tortillas
- Gluten-free Bread
- Gluten-free Cereals
- Grains such as quinoa, corn, tapioca, sorghum)
Learn more about Do Lentils Contain Gluten? (Top GF Lentils)
Ways To Incorporate Carbohydrates Into Your Diet
If you’re struggling to incorporate these foods into your diet, here are a few ideas and recipes to get you started.
- Use gluten-free noodles to make spaghetti and meatballs
- When baking, use sorghum flour instead of white flour
- When making Mexican food, use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas
- Have a gluten-free sandwich at lunchtime
- Have rice cereal instead of cereals that contain gluten
While these recipes may be aimed at athletes, these gluten-free high-carb meals from Active.com are really useful to give you some starting points of easy ways to add carbohydrates to your diet. Some ideas are:
- Spiced Breakfast Quinoa (perfect for winter!)
- Turkey Cheddar Quesadilla
- Shrimp and Pesto Penne
- Black Bean Potato Salad
- Curried Tofu with Rice Salad
You can find all the recipes for these tasty meals in the link above.
I hope this article has helped to answer the question: are gluten-free less carbs? And helped you to learn the differences between the two. When changing your diet, please consult a healthcare professional first, whether it’s because of an intolerance or a lifestyle choice.
Did you find it difficult to maintain your carbohydrate intake when changing to a gluten-free diet? I must admit, it took me months to find a diet that worked for me – but I am quite a fussy eater! Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below – whether negative or positive. You may be helping out a fellow gluten-free individual on their journey.
Read more about Who Discovered Celiac Disease?
Hi, my name’s Zoë. I’m 28 years old and live in London, UK. I work full time as a freelance writer and critic for West End theatre. Writing has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I spend most of my free time at the theatre, or at conventions. I’m married to the love of my life, and live in a small apartment with my fur baby, Lillie. I run two of my own blogs: No Safer Place and Stage to Page: both of which have won awards. I also have a YouTube channel where I talk about all things stagey.