If you’re anything like us, you do research when embarking on a new diet (sometimes oodles and oodles of it!). The positive side of this, which can get confusing! There are differences between each lifestyle, both big and small.
In the blog post, we break down the nuances between two popular diet choices–the gluten-free diet and the low-carb diet–so you can learn the biggest changes between them and choose the best option for you.
WHAT DOES IS GOING GLUTEN-FREE?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, gluten-free diets are a way of eating that excludes any foods that contain gluten, which is a protein found in wheat and other grains. Sometimes gluten occurs naturally in may foods, whereas other times it’s added during processing.
It’s a common misconception that going on a strict gluten-free diet means not eating any carbohydrates! In fact, there are many carbohydrate-rich foods with no gluten, like rice, potatoes, and beans.
REASONS TO BE GLUTEN-FREE
Those who are struggling with digestive issues, like bloat, discomfort, and nausea, may be at their wit's end and willing to try anything.
People often try going gluten-free as an experiment to see if eliminating gluten alleviates these painful and annoying symptoms.
Here are a few common conditions associated with the gluten-free diet.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s response to gluten is to attack the small intestine. Over time, this negative reaction damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing many nutrients.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for celiac disease, but eating gluten-free can help calm symptoms and promote healing in the intestine.
GLUTEN SENSITIVITIES / GLUTEN INTOLERANCE
While not everyone is strictly allergic to gluten, many people do have gluten sensitivities. Gluten intolerance, or “non-celiac gluten sensitivities,” is different from celiac disease because celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivities are similar to celiac disease and can include stomach aches and tiredness. A big difference is that while someone with gluten sensitivities may experience discomfort after eating gluten, consuming gluten does not damage their small intestine.
We understand that it may be confusing to know whether you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivities or gluten intolerance! Always consult with your doctor, who can help determine a diagnosis.
IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a disorder that affects the large intestine (in contrast to celiac disease, which affects the small intestine). IBS is a long-term, chronic condition and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, and bloating.
The exact cause of IBS is not known, but symptoms can be triggered by food choices and stress levels. Mild cases of IBS can be managed through lifestyle, diet, and stress adjustments. Severe symptoms can be treated through medication and counseling.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic, long-term disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. It belongs to a larger group of illnesses called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Crohn’s disease is progressive, and while inflammation is a normal bodily reaction to protect itself from bacteria, Crohn’s symptoms occur when there’s an excess of inflammation that doesn’t go away. Symptoms can come and go without warning, with some periods causing few to no symptoms, while others result in more frequent flare-ups.
FOODS WITH GLUTEN
Gluten is a binding agent in many packaged foods, and therefore crops up in many foods you may never suspect! When determining which foods contain gluten, always read your labels and when unsure, opt for non-packaged gluten-free foods such as fruits and vegetables.
Don’t forget that Proper Good has several gluten-free meal options, and you can even filter our website to see them all in one place! Delicious soups, chilis, and oatmeals are right there at your fingertips and ready to enjoy in just 90 seconds.
GLUTEN FREE BREAD AND CAKES
Most bread and cakes are gluten-containing foods. However, there are many gluten-free options to choose from! When making bread and cake from scratch, it’s easy to swap flour with gluten for gluten-free flour, like gluten-free oat flour, and now you've got gluten free bread. The below image links to a recipe for Gluten Free Maple Cinnamon Waffles!, you can also find gluten free bread in the gluten-free aisle at most markets.
CANDY, COOKIES, AND CRACKERS
Similar to bread and cakes, several other sweet treats contain gluten, too. Baked goods like rolls, bagels, biscuits, doughnuts, muffins, and pies often include gluten as well, but luckily you can make gluten-free alternatives to these too! :-)
Many varieties of hard liquor are gluten-free and considered safe for those with celiac disease due to the distillation process, so avoiding gluten is possible here. A few gluten-free liquors are bourbon, gin, mezcal, rum, tequila, and vodka.
For those who prefer beer, it’s important to note that many beers are not naturally gluten-free. However, brewers are starting to make more gluten-free beer options! Here’s a list of several gluten-free beer brands.
While there are special gluten-free pasta options available, traditional pasta contains gluten. Innovative ingredients are starting to emerge in pasta to accommodate gluten-free eaters. Banza, for instance, uses chickpeas to make a gluten-free pasta alternative!
In addition, spaghetti squash is a nutritious, plant-based option for those looking for that pasta-like texture and quality … without the gluten! You won’t even miss traditional pasta with recipes like this one for creamy chicken spaghetti squash boats!
Potatoes are gluten-free, but at restaurants, french fries are often cooked alongside foods that contain gluten or fried in the same deep fryer. Because of this, they co-mingle with other foods that contain gluten, like mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders, and bits of gluten get into them!
When dining out, ask your waiter if french fries are made in a dedicated fryer to determine if they’ve been mixed with gluten-rich items. When making french fries at home, you have full control over how they’re made and can ensure they don’t come in contact with gluten-containing foods,
WHAT IS LOW CARB?
A low-carb diet is one that limits the consumption of carbohydrates, which are often found in sugary foods, pasta, and bread. Those on low carb intake diets primarily eat whole foods and vegetables.
REASONS TO GO LOW CARB
There are many benefits of low carbohydrate diets, which we’ve outlined below!
WEIGHT LOSS AND FAT LOSS
According to Mayo Clinic, low-carb diets can lead to more efficient short-term weight loss than low-fat diets. However, most studies have found that at 12 or 24 months, the benefits of a low-carb diet tend to plateau.
REDUCES INSULIN LEVELS
According to a new study from the University of Michigan, eating three low-carb meals within 24 hours reduces after-meal insulin resistance by a whopping 30 percent!
INCREASE OF GOOD CHOLESTEROL
Fewer carbohydrate diets that emphasize healthy sources of carbs, fat, and protein may help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Cutting calories and carbs may not be the only reason for weight loss on a low-carb diet. Some studies show that you may lose weight because the extra protein and fat help you feel full longer, which helps you eat less.
DROP IN TRIGLYCERIDE LEVELS + REDUCED BLOOD PRESSURE
Low-carb diets are often associated with cardiovascular risk factors. A recent study showed that a low-carbohydrate diet was associated with a decrease in triglyceride levels. It also confirms low-carb diets have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular risk factors.
However, it should be noted that the results of various studies are inconsistent with each other, so it’s best to consult with your doctor when considering whether a low-carb diet may help with decreasing triglyceride levels and reducing blood pressure.
REDUCED BLOOD SUGAR AND INSULIN LEVELS
When you avoid sugar and starches, your blood sugar tends to stabilize, and the levels of the fat-storing hormone (insulin) drop, which may make it easier to burn fat stores in the body.
LOW CARB FOOD TO EAT
With so many options in the grocery store, it’s tough to determine which foods are best for a low-carb diet! We include a list below of a few common low-carb foods.
And for those times when you just can’t with grocery shopping but still want a delicious, low-carb meal, Proper Good’s here! With deliveries right to your door, you don’t even have to leave the house to get tasty low-carb meals. Our product descriptions include notes to help you see whether the item is low carb or not – no guessing whatsoever! With flavorful ingredients and fresh fruits and vegetables, you won’t miss the carbs one little bit.
Green leafy and cruciferous vegetables
Vegetables are a staple of any low-carb diet. They’re nutritious and filling, giving you clean fuel to keep you full throughout the day! A few common low-carb vegetables are lettuce, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower, zucchini, and celery.
Nuts and seeds
Many nuts and seeds are low in carbs and high in healthy fats, which make them a great snack option while on a low-carb diet! Pecans, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and peanuts are all excellent low-carb nut and seed choices.
Chicken and turkey are great sources of protein and are considered amongst the leanest meats available. They can be made juicy and flavorful in different recipes, like bun-less burgers, casseroles, and more!
FISH AND SEAFOOD
Fish and seafood are high in key vitamins and minerals with many health benefits, such as B12, as well as iodine and omega-3 fatty acids. Similar to the lean meats listed above, fish and seafood contain next to no carbs.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GLUTEN-FREE DIET AND LOW CARB DIET
So now that we know what gluten-free and low-carb diets are … you may be wondering what the biggest differences are? Let’s break it down!
While on a gluten-free diet, one must eliminate all sources of gluten completely! And, for those with celiac disease, going completely gluten-free is essential to intestine health and function. In addition, most experts agree that staying gluten-free isn’t necessarily a tool for weight loss in comparison to other diets, like low carb.
LOW CARB DIET
In contrast to a gluten-free diet, a low-carb diet, like a ketogenic diet reduces overall carb intake. Plus, it focuses largely on the consumption of non-starchy foods, as well as moderate consumption of protein and limited consumption of healthy fats. On the gluten-free diet, protein and healthy fats are much more common! When compared to the gluten-free diet, low-carb diets are often followed in order to see weight loss.
GLUTEN-FREE VS LOW CARB: WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
When considering a gluten-free diet versus low carb, it’s tricky to determine which one is best for you! An important fact to consider is your unique goals (weight loss, removing gluten, treating health issues) and lifestyle. For instance, if you don’t have a gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivities (wheat allergy), going completely gluten-free may feel unnecessary and too tough.
If you’re looking for a healthy way to lose weight, a low-carb diet like the keto diet is a better option than gluten-free.
At the end of the day, you must choose what is right for you! And, keep in mind that it’s okay to combine various aspects of the two in order to accommodate your dietary needs.
GLUTEN-FREE AND LOW CARB PROPER GOOD MEALS
Yep, we have absolutely scrumptious meal options that fit all lifestyles, including gluten-free and low-carb! Proper Good meals are a great option for those who are interested in testing out both the gluten-free and low-carb diet! Mix and match meals to see what resonates most and tastes best to you.
And as always, we’re here to help if you have any questions about Proper Good pouches! Contact us here.
Going gluten-free or low-carb doesn’t have to be hard! We hope the cheat sheet above makes the transition feel a little daunting and more manageable. :)