• Lauren

My Gluten Gospel

Brace yourselves for my...crumby...evangelism. Sorry, had to do it😝

Many of you know I’ve been a bread baking fiend lately. Every weekend I’ve been tackling a recipe; I go to the store and acquire my ingredients, hunker down, and watch stuff rise.

To some of you, this may seem like a strange hobby for a fitness lover, thanks to the media and proponents of a “healthy” gluten-free lifestyle.

To be clear, if you suffer from Celiac Disease, gluten is a no-go, and I hate that for you. If your doctor has diagnosed you with a wheat allergy, that’s a huge bummer and also a very good reason to avoid bread, cake, and a number of other wheat-containing products.

However, if you’ve dubbed yourself “gluten-sensitive," or if you've been quick to blame bread for the extra pounds you’re carrying around, I’d like the opportunity to empower you. Maybe gluten is what's making you feel bloated. Maybe. And if you simply don’t care for bread, by all means, skip it.

But is it possible that you feel bloated because you’re just eating too much in general? Is there a chance that your overall carbohydrate consumption (aka energy) is far in excess of what your activity level demands, and thus you’re seeing extra fat storage?

The empowering part is that if the latter is the case, you don’t have to cut bread completely! You simply need to reassess your caloric intake. I go over how to do that in this blog post. Maybe you shouldn’t be eating as much bread as you are currently, but that’s a far cry from needing to completely eliminate it.

Do you even know what gluten is, bro?

Simply put, gluten is a group of proteins that act as the "glue" in dough. It's found mostly in wheat products, but also in barley, rye, and oats. This means gluten is not only contained in bread, but pasta, granola, tortillas, and beer, to name a few others.

If you're certain that gluten is the devil, I’d recommend giving this Harvard Medical School article a glance. As stated by author Robert Schmerling, M.D.:

“There is no compelling evidence that a gluten-free diet will improve health or prevent disease if you don't have celiac disease and can eat gluten without trouble.”

Or this Elemental article touting some of the benefits of bread, particularly whole grain varieties.

Ultimately, I don't believe any one food group is responsible for "making people fat," and gluten is no exception. It all comes down to your choices- what you choose to eat excessively, and what you eat in healthy moderation.

Bread is awesome!

I think my main draw to baking breads versus pastries, pies, or cakes, is that bread is so versatile and adaptable for a healthy daily diet. A slice of pie will always be, well, a slice of pie. I’d draw no joy from attempting to make a “healthy” pecan pie, and I don’t feel that eating a slice (or more) of pecan pie daily would be conducive to my health goals.

A slice of bread, however? Sure, you can slather that baby in butter or high sugar jelly, but there’s a million other, more macro-friendly alternatives that can be used too. Some of my favorites? Toast with eerthang. Toast with my eggs- either by making a little open-faced sandwich, or with my favorite sugar free preserves. Toast with tuna salad is another favorite.

I made flour tortillas a few weeks ago that were tasty and nutritious when topped with lettuce, salsa, guacamole, and lean, seasoned ground beef.

Speaking of guac, avocado toast anyone? Or maybe a slice with a light spread of hummus, almond butter, or PB. Each can serve as healthy snacks.

And those carbohydrates? Those aren't evil either! It should be no secret that I'm not a fan of the keto diet. Got no use for it. While carbs in excess may cause unwanted weight gain, when used strategically, carbs can provide the pre-workout boost you need to get those gains and also be an excellent post-workout nutrient vehicle.

Bottom line: gluten isn't evil, but gluttony will get ya.

Happy baking!

One Strong Bee (And today, B is for Breadhead)

Have questions about gluten? Drop them in the comments below! I may not have all the answers, but I can probably point you in the right direction.