3 Popular Gluten-Free-Friendly Weight-Loss Programs

woman eating salad

 Science Photo Library/Getty Images

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 gluten-free 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, here are 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 simply isn't giving you the results you want, these diets could do the trick.

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 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. 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.


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 actually does.

The key to WW is slow, deliberate weight loss through tracking the value in WW points for all the foods you eat. 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 own 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. If this is you, WW's slow, steady approach may represent your best-suited weight loss ticket.

The Bottom Line

It's extremely 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.

Was this page helpful?
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.
  1. Schulze MB, Martínez-González MA, Fung TT, Lichtenstein AH, Forouhi NG. Food based dietary patterns and chronic disease preventionBMJ. 2018;361:k2396. doi:10.1136/bmj.k2396

  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