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GF Isn’t Good

By Marcus | In Nutrition | on March 5, 2012

Pooja recently asked me for my take on gluten-free (GF) products. They have come into quite a bit of popularity in the last couple of years. In fact, the increase of GF diets have increased awareness in many restaurants, where many have notated their menu and made it easier for those on a Paleo diet to dine out.

Of course there’s a downside to all of this. Just because something is GF doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you, nor should it be a regular staple of your diet. Remember during the Whole30 when we advised against trying to shoehorn crap recipes into Paleo clothing? A simple Google search will turn up recipes for “Paleo cookies” or “Primal cupcakes”, but these items are often catering to the same sugar cravings that you are trying to tame while on a Whole30!

“But we’re not on a Whole30 now, so what’s the harm?”

Once off the Whole30, you’re free to start experimenting to see what foods may or may not affect you. For those of you who found certain foods that did not agree with you, those dessert recipes are something you may turn to now — for a cheat day. They absolutely should not become the new norm, serving as the finale for every night’s dinner. This is a negative pattern that will invariably lead you back to poor eating habits. However, the occasional dalliance with primal chocolate cake or coconut raisin cookies is much better than eating a substance you know affects you in a negative way.

Circling back to the GF realm, there are temptations aplenty in the markets now. Several restaurants offer up a GF pizza and Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have numerous baked goods to choose from. Are these a good option to cooking your own Paleo/Primal recipe? Sorry to say, but not really. Most of these items still pack a massive amount of sugar. (Yes, even the pizza crust.) Whole9 did a two-part article touching on this same subject. In the first part, a guest author delved into some of the science behind gluten and other grain choices. A brief excerpt:

“Gluten-free” is usually a cue for “highly-processed, low-quality, over-sweetened junk”

This is especially true for any baked goods. For example, take a look at the ingredient list for some Gluten-Free Cake Mix:

Ingredients: Sugar,modified tapioca starch,rice flour,cocoa,potato starch,emulsifier,rice starch,ployglycerols esters of fatty acids,mono and diglycerides of fatty acids,black cocoa,sodium acid pyrophosphate,sodium bicarbonate,cornstarch,monocalcium phosphate,salt,xanthan gum


The second part of their article gives some further advice on the whole GF dilemma and I would also recommend looking over their “Guide to Nutritional Off-Roading“, which helps you take a look at the larger picture of a “cheat meal”.

My personal take on the GF items is that they are still junk food. Just because they don’t contain gluten does not make them healthy. That does not mean that I don’t partake from time to time in a GF pizza. I do, but I avoid deluding myself into thinking it’s anything other than a cheat meal and treat it accordingly.

WOD 03.05.12

Back Squat 3 x 5

10 Pistols
8 Pull Ups

Rest 2 Minutes

20 Double Unders
10 Burpees

5 Comments to "GF Isn’t Good"

  • Kara says:

    March 5, 2012 at 6:59 AM -

    Marcus! Thank you for posting this! I try to explain to lots of people that GF doesn’t mean healthy and now i have a resource to send them to!

  • the Pooj says:

    March 5, 2012 at 10:01 AM -

    thanks for answering my question emperor :)

  • Amanda says:

    March 5, 2012 at 1:36 PM -

    Marcus, great article, and this is just like when something says “sugar free” or “fat free” or “low fat” – typically to get the taste “you want” they add one thing in exchange for another to still get the taste we are conditioned to like.

    One thing I have learned from my bro-in-law is the value of roasting vegetables. Brussel sprouts, with a little olive oil, a little truffle oil, and sea salt, slow roasted in the oven ~30-40 minutes releases the vegetable’s natural sugars.

    Who would ever think I’d encourage brussels sprouts as a staple?!? I swear that I reguarly deplete Von’s brussels stash.

  • becky says:

    March 5, 2012 at 2:39 PM -

    good one, Marcuspedia

  • Jason Beattie says:

    March 5, 2012 at 3:36 PM -

    I love brussel sprouts and liver now…your taste buds change as you age.

    “The number of taste buds decreases beginning at about age 40 to 50 in women and at 50 to 60 in men. Each remaining taste bud also begins to atrophy (lose mass). The sensitivity to the four taste sensations does not seem to decrease until after age 60, if at all. “

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