Oscar winner Russell Crowe took to Twitter recently to reveal the secrets behind his new-found weight loss.
The actor, whose weight gain over the years rendered him nearly unrecognizable from his work in L.A. Confidential, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind, tweeted on July 13 that he’d lost 16 pounds in four weeks, thanks to a fitness routine, calorie restriction (2,400 a day maximum), and – wait for it – a gluten-free diet.
Way to jump on the bandwagon, Russell! Although gluten causes serious pain and harm to people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, it’s not fattening in and of itself. In fact, a 2006 study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, 81 percent of people on a gluten-free diet actually gained weight.
And yet, Crowe isn’t alone. According to the NPD Group, about one-quarter of American adults are either trying to reduce or completely avoid gluten in their diets – and it’s safe to assume that most haven’t been medically advised to do so.
“People are always looking for a new way to lose weight,” says Alice Bast, founder and executive director of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. “Then people hear about celebrities and sports figures saying, ‘I’m on a gluten-free diet and I’m losing weight,’ so they want to try it.”
But why does going gluten-free more commonly lead to weight gain instead of weight loss? And for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, who have no choice but to banish gluten from their diets, is there any way to keep the extra weight at bay?