3 Popular Gluten-Free-Friendly Weight-Loss Programs

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Many people who follow the gluten-free diet find that they lose weight without needing to do anything special — it appears to work in a number of cases, even though it's far from clear what it is about the diet that might lead to shedding pounds.

But if you're not among the lucky ones who drop 10 or 15 pounds simply by dropping the gluten protein from your diet, you might be in the market for a gluten-free-friendly weight loss program. And finding such a program sometimes is easier said than done, since many of the most popular diet programs map out your allowed foods pretty precisely (and those allowed foods often contain gluten).

Popular Diets That Can Be Done If You're Gluten-Free

Nonetheless, I've identified three popular weight-loss programs that you can follow pretty easily, even if you're also gluten-free. So if you'd like to eliminate some extra flab, but your gluten-free program alone just isn't giving you the results you want, these diets could do the trick.

The South Beach Diet

Now, the original South Beach Diet did allow for some gluten-containing foods, although not many and only after Phase 1 of the diet. And in fact, diet creator Dr. Arthur Agatston has credited the lack of gluten in Phase 1 for many of the positive effects he said his own patients experienced when they first started South Beach.

Based on these results, Dr. Agatston published another book — The South Beach Diet Gluten Solution — which eliminates all gluten for about a month as part of the program and then reintroduces it to see if the dieter reacts.

Of course, if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, you won't be reintroducing gluten, since you already know the stuff is bad for you. But that doesn't stop you from following South Beach, which remains one of the most gluten-free-friendly weight-loss programs out there. Just skip the part where you're supposed to try gluten again and follow the rest of it.

Atkins Diet Program

The Atkins diet, apart from working well for weight loss in many cases, has helped many people uncover their previously unrecognized gluten issues. In its first three phases (Induction, Phase 1 and Phase 2), Atkins allows no gluten foods at all, which meant people inadvertently were going gluten-free when they followed the program.

However, those who follow the gluten-free diet for health reasons need to beware of the various Atkins diet products on the market, since most of them are not truly gluten-free (see the list here: Atkins Diet Gluten-Free List). Many of these are allowed after Induction (when gluten otherwise is banned from the program).

Therefore, following the Atkins diet when you're gluten-free will mean skipping the very convenient (and occasionally even tasty) packaged products that so many people use as part of the diet. That may not be a deal-killer for you (many people lose a lot of weight with Atkins), but it might make you more seriously consider another alternative.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers isn't exactly the new kid on the block when it comes to weight loss programs — it was founded back in 1963, not all that long after they were experimenting with treating celiac disease with an all-banana diet (yes, really). So you wouldn't think this decades-old diet program would work well gluten-free ... but it does. It really does.

The key to Weight Watchers is slow, deliberate weight loss through tracking the value in Weight Watchers points for all the foods you eat. That means you can eat what you want — as long as you account for it in the Weight Watchers points system. Gluten-free foods (and foods that accommodate any other sensitivity or allergy you may have) are perfectly acceptable under this approach.

The downside to Weight Watchers likely is the fact that you'll have to make most of your own meals and snacks -- as with the other gluten-free-friendly diets, convenience foods marketed for Weight Watchers are unlikely to be safe. But many of us already do plenty of cooking. If this is you, Weight Watchers' slow, steady approach may represent your best-suited weight loss ticket.

The Bottom Line

It's quite possible to find a popular weight loss program that will accommodate your gluten-free diet quite well, although you may have to do some extra meal prep to make it work perfectly.

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