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Gluten-Free Keto Diet: Complete Guide

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March 26, 2024 5 min read

The crux of the keto diet is limiting carb intake to trigger the body to use stored fat for energy instead of glucose. When this process, known as ketosis, occurs, weight loss is a potential outcome.

To limit carb intake, the keto diet requires 70-80% of your daily calories to come from fat, 10-20% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrates. Some keto dieters even eliminate carbs.

Since gluten is often associated with bread and pasta, it’s easy to assume that keto can be gluten-free by default. When carbs are eliminated from your diet, you eliminate most gluten-containing foods. Keto diet experts say you can tailor your keto diet to become gluten-free.

If you want to try out a gluten-free keto diet, we provide a complete guide to getting started and sustaining it in this article.


What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein that can be found in grain-based food, such as wheat, barley, malt, rye, and triticale.

Because many grains contain gluten, nutritionists confirm that products derived from most grains also have gluten, from pizza and pasta to bread and bagels. Gluten can also be found in most packaged foods.


Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet

In recent years, “gluten-free” has become more popular. Many believe going gluten-free to be a cure for many of their ailments, such as abdominal discomfort, migraines, bloating, or even full-blown medical conditions such as celiac disease

A gluten-free diet is most beneficial for people with celiac disease, wheat allergies, or gluten sensitivity. Eliminating gluten from their diets results in a significant reduction in symptoms. Nutritionists also attribute going gluten-free to better intestinal health and nutrient absorption in people with gluten sensitivities.

However, for those without these conditions, health practitioners generally do not recommend a gluten-free diet. According to scientific research, non-celiac or non-gluten-sensitive individuals risk nutrient deficiencies by going gluten-free, with little to no added benefits.

Keto vs. Gluten-Free

Keto experts say that the ketogenic diet, for the most part, can be gluten-free. This is because it restricts the consumption of carbohydrates to less than 10%, with some dieters going as far as eliminating it altogether.

This not only results in weight loss but is also associated with multiple benefits, such as reduced cravings and more energy. Some health experts even recommend the keto diet for individuals with type 2 diabetes to control blood glucose. 

However, keto is not always gluten-free; for many people, it doesn’t need to be. If you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, you can’t consume gluten, keto diet or no. For all other keto dieters, going gluten-free is optional; as long as you’re hitting your keto macros of 70-20-10, then you’ll still be ketogenic. 

Conversely, it’s also important to remember that just because you’ve cut out gluten, you’re not automatically in a keto-diet. Many people on a gluten free diet simply make their high-carb food by substituting regular flour for a gluten free option. As the most important part of the keto diet is restricting carbohydrates, this means you can avoid gluten, but still be nowhere near the macro requirements to be ketogenic. 

Going gluten-free and keto at the same time calls for the complete elimination of gluten and the restriction of gluten-free carbohydrates.


Who Needs to Follow a Gluten-Free Diet

Studies show that 65% of American adults think gluten-free foods are healthier options, and 27% make active efforts to consume gluten-free products for weight loss. However,health practitioners generally do not recommend a gluten-free diet for those without a medical condition necessitating it. 

By design, the gluten-free diet caters specifically to benefit those with celiac disease and wheat allergies.


Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to fire up when gluten is consumed. This results in symptoms that can disrupt one’s quality of life, including intestinal inflammation and nutritional deficiencies. According to data, 1% of the world’s population suffers from celiac disease. 

To mitigate symptoms, healthcare practitioners advise people with celiac disease to go gluten-free.


Wheat Allergy

Some people can also be allergic to wheat. Doctors say it’s one of the most common food allergies. When these people consume foods containing wheat or even inhale wheat flour, swelling, rashes, and gastrointestinal upset are common reactions. In extreme cases, difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis may also occur.

Those with wheat allergies are advised to avoid wheat and other foods with gluten proteins to prevent adverse reactions.

What Foods Are Gluten-Free

Considering that most grains contain gluten and that several food products are also infused with gluten to improve taste, texture, and binding, you might feel like you’re pressed for options. The good news is that plenty of naturally gluten-free foods exist. Nutritionists identify the following as natural, gluten-free foods:

  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Fats and oils
  • Herbs and spices
  • Meat and seafood
  • Pork Rinds 
  • Most beverages, with the exception of beer.
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free, but some processed fruits and vegetables may have gluten added during processing. 

What Foods Aren’t Gluten-Free

Gluten proteins are primarily found in wheat, rye, malt and barley, brewer’s yeast, and triticale. Food products made from these grains are also non-gluten-free, including:

  • Baked goods
  • Beer
  • Bread
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Cereals
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Pretzels

Even if a product does not naturally contain gluten, nutritionists say it’s worth checking the label to determine if the manufacturer used gluten to improve the product’s texture and flavor. Soups, cold cuts, processed cheese, salad dressings, and plenty of condiments may contain gluten as a flavor enhancer.

Conclusion

The gluten-free diet is all about eliminating gluten, including many grains and some carbohydrate-rich foods. Because of this, keto experts say it pairs perfectly with the ketogenic diet. 

Because keto limits or eliminates carbs, those with gluten sensitivities can go keto relatively quickly. They only need to add the restriction of non-gluten-free foods in their keto diet regime.

Gluten-Free Keto Diet: FAQs

Can I do a gluten-free keto diet?

Nutritionists say that the keto diet is often (but not always) gluten-free, making both diet regimes work well together. While restricting carb intake on keto, those with gluten sensitivities should also avoid foods that contain gluten proteins.


Can keto trigger gluten intolerance?

Because the keto diet limits carb and gluten intake, you might worry that observing the diet for long periods might cause gluten intolerance. There is no need to worry, it’s very unlikely for the keto diet, or any other diet regime, to cause someone to become intolerant to gluten, though it is possible that by going gluten free, you might discover that you had a pre-existing wheat intolerance


What foods are gluten-free and low carbs?

Many foods are naturally gluten-free and low in carbs. These include eggs, dairy, oils, meat, pork rinds, nuts, seeds, fats, and oils. Many vegetables are also low-carb and gluten-free, including leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables.


Can you eat gluten-free pasta on a keto diet?

The only difference between gluten-free pasta and regular pasta is that the former is made with gluten-free flour. While suitable to those observing the gluten-free diet, it’s not conducive to keto dieters. This is because gluten-free pasta is still made with high-carb ingredients that can easily kick you out of ketosis.