. Is Gluten-Free Low Carb: Breaking Down Myths Around Gluten-Free Diets 

Is Gluten-Free Low Carb: Breaking Down Myths Around Gluten-Free Diets 

Are Gluten-Free diets healthy or just a fad?  Is there a reason why you should consider going gluten-free?  Is gluten-free low carb? We get these questions all the time from our clients, so if you are confused about what “gluten-free” means, you are not alone.

In this blog post, we will break down the myths surrounding gluten-free and low carb diets, and explain how they differ from each other and what overlap they have.

What is a gluten-free diet?

There is a lot of buzz around gluten-free lately, but what does it really mean? A gluten-free diet is simply a dietary plan that excludes gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

Gluten is a binding agent that gives bread and other baked goods their chewy texture. It is also found in many processed foods, including cereal, pasta, salad dressings, and soups.

To follow a gluten-free diet, people must avoid all foods that contain gluten. This means reading food labels carefully and choosing foods that are labeled gluten-free.  Those following a gluten-free diet must also be aware of cross-contamination.  Cross-contamination occurs when gluten-free food comes into contact with gluten-containing food. This can happen in restaurants, food factories, and even at home.

Who needs to follow a gluten-free diet?

Gluten-free diets have become very popular and showcasing “gluten-free” on food labels has become a popular advertising technique in recent years leading people to believe that these gluten-free foods are healthier for them. In reality, a gluten-free diet is only a necessary treatment for people with Celiac Disease or people with sensitivities to gluten.

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestines.  Celiac Disease affects about one in every one hundred people according to The Celiac Foundation.

To find out if you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, you will need to see a doctor. They will start by asking you about your symptoms and medical history. They may also order some tests, such as blood tests and/or an endoscopy.

Blood tests can look for antibodies that your body produces in response to gluten. If you have celiac disease, you will have high levels of certain antibodies in your blood.

An endoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to look at the lining of your small intestine. If you have celiac disease, the lining of your small intestine will be damaged.

What is a low carb diet?

A low carb diet is a dietary plan that restricts carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, sweets, fruit, starchy vegetables, and milk. It has nothing to do with avoiding gluten.

There is no single definition of a low carb diet, but it typically involves limiting carbohydrates to less than 45% of total calories. Many people chose to follow a low carb diet to help with weight loss and/or blood sugar control.

Are gluten-free and low carb diets the same thing?

Gluten-free and low carb diets are not at all the same thing.  As mentioned earlier, a gluten-free diet excludes all foods that contain gluten while a low carb diet restricts carbohydrates.  There are some low carb foods that still contain gluten and some gluten-free foods that are high in carbs.

Some gluten-free foods are also low in carbohydrates, such as vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, nuts, and seeds. However, there are also many gluten-free foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as gluten-free bread, pasta, cereal, and baked goods.

It is possible to follow a gluten free-diet that is also low in carbohydrates. If you are following a gluten-free diet and you are also trying to reduce your carbohydrate intake, it is important to focus on eating gluten-free foods that are low in carbohydrates. You should also read food labels carefully and limit gluten-free foods that are high in carbohydrates and added sugar.

When beginning to follow a gluten-free or a low carb diet, it is helpful to talk to a Registered Dietitian who can help create a personalized diet plan that meets your individual needs.

So, should I eat gluten or not? 

Gluten itself, especially gluten in foods containing whole grains, is not a bad thing for people who have bodies who tolerate it. If you do not have Celiac Disease or an intolerance to gluten containing foods, then gluten is perfectly safe for you to eat.  Most people can safely eat gluten with no adverse effects.

Many foods are naturally gluten-free. If you switch to an eating plan that consists of primarily meat or plant-based protein, fruit, nuts, and vegetables, all of which are gluten-free foods, you might feel better not because you are avoiding gluten, but because you aren’t eating ultra-processed foods.

Many gluten-free processed foods such as breads, cereals, and baked goods are more costly and may not taste as good as the traditional gluten containing products. Some may even be higher in sugar, fat, and calories than the traditional gluten containing versions.

So, while gluten may have a bad reputation or the media is telling you not to eat it, rest assured that there is no reason to avoid gluten if your body tolerates it.


In conclusion, while gluten-free diets are crucial for people with allergies and sensitivities, it is generally not necessary to avoid gluten if you do not fall into one of these categories.  Eating a gluten-free diet does not mean that you are eating a low carb diet or a “healthy” diet and gluten containing foods can be a healthy part of your eating plan.

If you do have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, or are just aiming to consume more plant based foods, check out our post about Chickpeas, a gluten-free legume that has many health benefits!

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