Gluten-Free And Low-Carb, Similar But Different

gluten free isn't always low carb

Too often when someone decides to eat a low carb diet they head out to the gluten-free section of their nearest supermarket and load up their cart. However, gluten-free is not the same as low carb. In this post I will break down the difference for you easily. 

Do you know that gluten-free isn’t always low carb and that they are not the same thing? There may be some similarities but they are quite different.

Gluten Free Diet Necessity

For many people eating foods that are gluten-free is a medical necessity. Which means their food has to be free of all wheat, barley, rye. All grains must be removed from their diet.

In fact, they cannot even consume food that has been processed in a plant that makes wheat products as to avoid cross-contamination. Gluten free isn’t always low carb and this could be a real problem for those who cannot consume any gluten.

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In a restaurant setting they need to make the staff aware of their gluten issue, so that their meals are cooked with the right ingredients and separately from where gluten food has been cooked.

Gluten free isn't always low carb

Low Carb Keto Is a Diet Choice

A low-carbohydrate plan on the other hand is a choice that people make and usually to reduce weight or for better overall health.  Gluten free isn’t always low carb. In fact, carbohydrates and gluten are two different things. Carbohydrates consist of sugar, while gluten is a group of proteins.

Three Types Of Gluten Conditions

The medical community categorizes three types of gluten related conditions. Those with wheat allergy, celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

People with wheat allergies will break out into hives, have facial swelling and even have difficulty breathing if they come in contact with any form of wheat. It is a serious thing when their antibodies react to the wheat proteins.

Celiac Is An Autoimmune Disease

Celiac is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system attacks the small intestine every time gluten enters the digestive tract of a person who has it.

Understand that a gluten sensitivity isn’t an allergy, or an autoimmune disease. However, studies are indicating that non-celiac gluten sensitivity can also be very detrimental to a person’s health.

Gluten’s Inflammatory Response

I happen to be one of those individuals who has a gluten sensitivity and not celiac disease. If I consume gluten in any form my body has an inflammatory response. NCGS (non celiac gluten sensitivity) has been linked to numerous diseases.

It’s vital you do your due diligence and see if the health issues your are currently experiencing do not have a gluten sensitivity correlation.

Gluten Free Diet

Now that we have some medical facts under our belt, let’s take a closer look.  A person who’s placed on a gluten-free diet can usually eat low carb since most foods high in carbohydrates usually have gluten.

Unfortunately, some low carb foods are considered low carb because of the addition of high fiber. This high fiber that has been placed in foods like low carb tortillas for example, have wheat in them.

A person who cannot have gluten, will need to take it a step further and make sure that what they are eating is completely gluten-free. What’s more, they need to be certain that gluten isn’t hiding in other places including  their shampoos, soaps and even cosmetics.

You may be surprised to know that gluten can be found even in our vitamins and medications. Which is why you need to become a bit of sleuth if you want to remove all traces of gluten.

Low Carb Keto

Someone on a low carb keto plan, may get away with not being quite so diligent in removing gluten but they don’t have the wiggle room to eat from the gluten-free isle. Why? Well for one, many of these gluten-free products are made with corn, rice, tapioca or potato starch.

They are loaded with a high concentration of carbs and will have you going over your daily carb limits quickly. These highly processed foods will spike your insulin levels and then bring your sugar crashing down after an hour or so.

A low carb diet aims to keep your sugar levels on an even keel, a win for those who are insulin resistant.

Processed Foods Can Kick You Out Of Ketosis

If you want to remain in ketosis, that is burning fat for fuel rather than glucose, you must read your labels carefully. The good news is that more people are realizing the benefits of eating a low carb diet and this is opening up a new market full of products we can consume.

Although it’s exciting to see the tide is changing, It’s important to tread lightly when choosing these pre-packaged low carb items. Unfortunately, many of these have way too many chemicals to call them healthy.

Be selective with what you allow into your diet, remember your aim should be to make every meal be as nutrient packed as possible.

Elimination Diet

If you find yourself at a weight loss plateau, perhaps it’s all those trips to the gluten-free section that may be hampering your diet. Maybe, it’s time to take a closer look at what you have been placing in your grocery cart.

Lastly, I encourage those of you who are on a gluten-free diet to take your health journey a step further and consider eliminating corn, rice, and potato.

Newer studies are demonstrating that these too can be a problem if you have any form of gluten sensitivity. I highly recommend Dr. Peter Osborne’s book No Grain No Pain for more on this important subject.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click-through and make a purchase. 

It is my hope that the knowledge you gain here will point you in the right direction for greater health.

A Low Carb Tip That Can Help You Stay On Track

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Learn More About Keto//OS

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Do know that when you choose to order from any of our affiliate links you help support the cost of running this blog. It’s my goal to always share the easiest and most delicious keto recipes with you, as well as proven tips to assist you on your low carb keto journey.

Know that I am grateful for each and every affiliate order you place and thank you for your support and encouragement in advance.

Please feel free to reach out to us to assist you in any way. It’s our desire to see you succeed.

Feel free to reach out to us with your questions. We are here to support you.


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  1. Thank you for this informative post. It will help me as I too have a sensitivity to gluten.

  2. Great post. I think there are many people who want to follow a 'gluten-free diet' without being clear on what it actually means.

    • Different people have different reactions to gluten and I felt the effects very strongly. I took it upon myself to study the subject for almost 2 years before deciding to write Gluten Free Living Secrets. I made a lot of mistakes along the way and made some simply horrific meals that I wouldn't be happy to serve to my dog but along the way I made some astounding discoveries. If had known back then what I know now, my transition to a gluten-free life would have been a lot easier. So I've taken what I've learned in my studies and compiled it all down into a collection of some of the most effective tips and strategies for realizing a life free from gluten for yourself. Here's the thing... we are not supposed to eat gluten. Our bodies can't process it properly and it is quite literally treated as a poison when it enters our system. The reality is that the human body can habituate to anything and we become "used to the feeling" and eventually not even aware of the harm it's doing us.


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