Is gluten keeping you from getting ‘lean’?

As summer gets closer I’m always getting more and more questions from people on how to get ‘lean’, funny how I don’t get many of those during the winter months lol 😛

When it comes to me and a number of my clients I have found that when I began pulling out anything with gluten really seemed to make a big difference in the way they looked and it also accelerated their fat loss. It’s funny to see the looks on their faces when I suggest it “you mean I can’t eat bread!?” “but I eat whole wheat pasta, isn’t that healthy?” “no more bagels or muffins in the morning?” They think I’m crazy but what I do love is the smiles on their faces when they do go gluten free and see the size loss and the realization that something they were told was healthy may have been holding them back.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and any other grain related species including barley and rye. It’s what gives dough it elasticity and shape in addition to giving that final product the ‘chewy’ texture.

Side Note: Corn and rice have a form of protein called “glutens” but it differs from true ‘gluten’, confusing huh?


Where did this come from?

Believe it or not gluten/grains were not a staple in man’s diet until the more recent 10,000 years, out digestive tracts have been developing over millions of year so relatively speaking grain based diets are relativity new to our digestive tract. I know that 10,000 years seems like a long time but you have to remember when we speak of an evolution stand point that’s incredibly short. It’s possible, though I’m not an expert evolutionary GI development; we are starting to see our bodies begin the evolution process of accepting gluten as a stable in our diets but in my opinion that will be long past our lifetimes before we reap some of the benefits.

Remember that only recently did our evolutionary nomadic lifestyles become more a stable geographic centered locations, hence agriculture.  Did I lose you with all the ‘nerd’ speak? Let me say it this way: technology has evolved faster than our bodies.

Another side note: I’ve read in one research journal, though I can’t remember where, that the topic was when gluten become a staple in the homosapians diet evolutionary regressions happened such as: losing 10inchs in avg. height, decreased natural life expectancy and decrease brain volume. I may have to look more into this but some of the evidence provided was pretty supportive.

Gluten Intolerance

There are intolerances and there are allergies. A food allergie is very severe, the most common examples that you’ll hearGluten Intolerance keeps you from getting lean about are people eating nuts or shellfish and going into anaphylactic shock. Intolerance is a less severe delayed allergie, so you may not see symptoms till hours after the food is consumed. Unfortunately with an intolerance there are a host of symptoms that range from:

  • IBS (irritable bowl syndrome)
  • Acne or other skin disorders
  • Dandruff
  • Feeling puffy, bloated or swollen

The only way to really know if you have a gluten intolerance is to take out all gluten based products for a week (this includes pre-packed foods, four, even alcohol) and I’ll say expect to go through a slight withdrawal for the first 4-5 days. Then after about 7 days being gluten free I want you to have a gluten binge, but be smart about this! Don’t go all stupid and make yourself sick. If your intolerant you’ll see the symptoms that left during the week off come back.

Gluten Free Foods

When you take out gluten from foods you’ll notice that the product becomes drier and crunchier. Remember gluten is very palatable and gives those wheat products they sticky, chewy texture.

Now asking if gluten free foods is healthy is the equivalent of asking if diet coke is healthier than regular coke. It’s the lesser of two evils but not healthy.

The problem is when you take out gluten in wheat based products the chemical structure is changed and this can prevent the GI from processing and breaking it down. This results in lack of nutrient absorption; with the lack of nutrients in the typical American way of eating we don’t need any other reason to lose more.

Gluten free foods are MORE artificial than gluten based foods

Gluten keeping you from getting leanTying it together for getting ‘lean’

I’ll use the bodybuilder as an example for this because I consider them being masters at body fat manipulation. When I was training for any show I would have bread or gluten based products to help me gain weight but when it was time to get ‘lean’ it was an unspoken rule that you cut it out. We didn’t really realize it then at the time why that was but as I got older and more educated I understood why.

High intakes of gluten cause internal inflammation in the body and when your body is inflamed it spends its time combating that inflammation and NOT gaining muscles or getting lean. In fact when you have high levels of inflammation you’re body will actually begin to cannibalize a bit of muscle

Don’t believe me? Pull it out for a few weeks and watch, you have ‘thinner skin’ (no inflammation) and you have A LOT more definition than before.

Can we say gluten hater?

Well a little yes and no for me on that one. It took me many years to final understand why it was so damn difficult to get lean and I think I have a little resentment towards bread on that one lol. I will say that I am human and will on occasion enjoy a slice of pizza or doughnut on occasion, with the emphasis on occasion.

In my opinion it’s ok to have gluten on occasion (say a meal a 2 -3 times a week is ok with the body) but if you really want to be serious about getting lean the less gluten you have the leaner you’ll see yourself become over time.


In Health and Fitness,

Travis Merritt




Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, CES, RBT is the owner of Fitness Revolution in Rowlett, TX.

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