3 Popular Gluten-Free-Friendly Weight-Loss Programs

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If you are on a gluten-free diet due to an allergy or intolerance to gluten and your doctor has advised that you lose weight, you may be looking for a gluten-free-friendly weight loss program. 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).

Weight loss is not always the best choice to improve your health. For instance, simply losing weight on the scale doesn't reflect the quality of your diet or any other aspect of your wellbeing, including the mental health aspects of a diet mindset. Be sure to discuss your weight concerns with your doctor before beginning any program.

Whatever diet program you choose should focus on nutrient-dense foods. Nutrients are much more vital to focus on than any number on the scale or measuring tape. Gluten is not unhealthy and doesn't need to be avoided unless you have an allergy or intolerance. See your doctor if you are unsure.

Popular Diets That Work for Gluten-Free

Here are three popular weight-loss programs that you can follow pretty easily, even if you're also gluten-free. Remember that no matter which diet you choose, nutrient-dense foods should make up the bulk of your eating. Trying to minimize calories with "diet" foods is not a health-promoting strategy.

The South Beach Diet

The original South Beach Diet did allow for some gluten-containing foods, although not many, and only after Phase 1 of the diet. 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 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 you react badly to it. But that doesn't stop you from following South Beach, which remains one of the most gluten-free weight-loss programs. Just skip the part where you're supposed to try gluten again and follow the rest of it.

Atkins Diet Program

Apart from working well for weight loss in many cases, the Atkins diet 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, 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 genuinely gluten-free. 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 seriously make you consider another alternative.


WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, isn't exactly the new kid on the block when it comes to weight loss programs — it was founded way back in 1963. So you wouldn't think this decades-old diet program would work well gluten-free, but it does.

The key to WW is slow, deliberate weight loss by tracking the value in WW points for all your foods. That means you can eat what you want — as long as you account for it in the WW 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 WW likely is that here, as well, you'll have to make most of your meals and snacks -- as with the other gluten-free-friendly diets, convenience foods marketed for WW are unlikely to be safe. But many of us already do plenty of cooking. WW's slow, steady approach may represent your best-suited weight loss ticket if this is you.

A Word From Verywell

It's possible to find a popular weight loss program that will accommodate your gluten-free diet well, although you may have to do some extra meal prep to make it work perfectly. Unless you have a gluten intolerance or allergy, avoiding gluten will not increase your health or boost weight loss.

Discuss any weight loss or gluten concerns you may have with your health care provider and focus on nutrient-dense foods for health. A calorie deficit and active lifestyle are essential for weight loss, no matter your diet choice.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. van Heel DA, Dart J, Nichols S, Jewell DP, Playford RJ. Novel presentation of coeliac disease after following the Atkins' low carbohydrate dietGut. 2005;54(9):1342. doi:10.1136/gut.2004.062588

  3. Gudzune KA, Doshi RS, Mehta AK, et al. Efficacy of Commercial Weight-Loss Programs: An Updated Systematic Review. Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(7):501-12.doi:10.7326/M14-2238

By Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson is a medical journalist and an expert in celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and the gluten-free diet.