Five Things I learned Going Gluten-Free

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I’m Drew Manning. A lot of people know me as the “Fit2Fat2Fit Guy”, you know, that guy who gained 75 pounds on purpose and lost it again? Well, I had another health journey that I tried recently and I wanted to share with you – I went gluten free.

With all the hype in the industry moving towards certain groups of foods – GMO free, organic, grass-fed, I wondered if gluten free was just yet another buzzword in the corporate scheme of selling to consumers. So I put it to the test to show people just how unhealthy it can be if you do it the wrong way. For two months, I ate only gluten free products.

Here are five things I learned while going gluten-free:

1: It’s possible to GAIN weight on a gluten-free diet.

Most people hear the word diet and assume it means weight loss. That’s why I prefer to call what I eat a “lifestyle change” – get rid of the connotation that you’ll automatically lose weight. Because guess what? I went gluten-free, and I gained 20 pounds and doubled my body fat percentage (7.4% to 14.8%) while eating only gluten free foods even though I exercised 3 times per week!

2: Gluten-free doesn’t come cheap.

Even though it was easy to shop for and find gluten free items, my grocery bills were immensely higher sticking to a gluten-free diet, making this a meal plan that not everyone can easily afford.  Gluten-free products are up to 5 times more expensive than their non gluten-free counterparts.

3. There is gluten-free version everything.

Love pizza? There’s gluten-free pizza for that. Can’t give up your breads, pastas and beloved cereals? Yep, there’s gluten-free options for all of those too. Pretty much any food you love, there is guaranteed going to be a gluten-free variation of it that (most of the time) tastes pretty similar to the foods you love (except there’s a slight “cardboard-ish” taste to a lot of it). The gluten-free section at the grocery store seems to keep growing and growing every time I go back.

4. There is definitely a need for gluten-free.

Considering the fact that 1 in 133 Americans suffers from Celiac Disease (that’s 1% of the population), and that 83% are still undiagnosed, there is definitely a need to be educated and aware of gluten intolerances. With the proper diagnosis, care, and nutrition Celiac sufferers can lead a very healthy, happy lifestyle.

5. Eating “whole foods” is usually a better option.

For the last two months of my gluten-free journey, I stopped searching out the gluten-free labels and stuck to old-school, unprocessed foods. I looked for meats, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables, especially what was in season at the time. Think “Farm-to-table” here. If you can pull it out of the ground, wash it off and dish it up? That’s pretty much what I ate. These foods didn’t need a “gluten-free” label on them.  I didn’t lose the entire 20 pounds that I gained, but it did start coming off and I wasn’t feeling as sluggish as I was on the gluten-free foods. (I lost 18 of the 20 pounds and got back down to 10% body fat).

I hope this helps you consider if gluten-free is a good option for you and your family. Always remember – eating healthy needs to be an educated decision and should be considered a lifestyle change, not a fad to help you lose weight.

Drew Manning is the owner of, and author of “Fit2Fat2Fit: The Unexpected Lessons from Gaining and Losing 75 lbs on Purpose.” He is a husband, father of two daughters, and has a passion for fitness and health and loves helping others succeed with their fitness goals.  

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