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A Little Gluten Reality Check — What Is Gluten, And Why The Hell Are You Even Eating Gluten-Free? [Video]


Jay (Baruchel): You have no idea what gluten is.

Seth (Rogen): I do know what gluten is. Gluten is a vague term. It’s something that’s used to categorize things that are bad. You know, calories, that’s a gluten. Fat, that’s a gluten.

Jay: Somebody just probably told you that you shouldn’t eat gluten and you’re like “oh well gee I guess I shouldn’t eat gluten.”

Seth: Gluten means bad sh** man, and I’m not eating it.


I literally spit out the protein shake I illegally smuggled into the movie theatre during “This Is The End.” I just did the same thing, all over my MacBook Air, after watching the Jimmy Kimmel bit above — where he asked a bunch of shirtless, gluten-free LA’ers (and Jewish Jon Hamm) a very simple question: What Is Gluten?

If you didn’t know, now you know (cue Biggy nostalgia). Gluten is a type of protein (specifically two proteins: gliadin and glutenin, but who’s counting) found in wheat, rye, barley, and other wheat-derived products. It’s also used as a stabilizing agent in random things like ketchup, deli meat, and soy sauce. It gives off a gooey, chewy texture and allows things like bread and pizza dough to rise and fluff up.

But despite the fact that 11% of all US households bought something gluten-free last year, amounting to a mammoth $10.5 billion in sales, most people have no f**king idea what it actually is.1

Or why they’re even eating gluten-free. Just ’cause, right?

Celiac disease (CD) is an extremely serious condition, and I don’t mean to downplay it. Gluten can quite literally be deadly, as it can trigger a vicious autoimmune attack that destroys the intestines and blocks nutrient absorption. People with celiac need to eat a gluten-free diet, which is why it falls into medical territory more than anything else. But CD is only diagnosed in an estimated 1-in-133 people; while a projected 83% of people go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.2

There’s an information issue.

And for those that aren’t de facto celiac, 6% are estimated to be “gluten sensitive,” which can cause a spectrum of nasty conditions — including everything from bloating, gas, and pain, to chronic diarrhea and constipation.3 Point is, question assumptions and fads before you dive into a gluten-free diet. Are you celiac? Do you have digestive issues? Have you had a blood test? Does it even make any sense whatsoever, or are you just desperate for a questionably trendy method to lose weight? Especially when GF products cost 242% more than their non-GF counterparts. TWO-HUNDRED AND FORTY-TWO.4

GF’s impact on weight loss/gain almost always derives from the dietary choices you make around it.

Going gluten-free MIGHT eviscerate digestive issues, which can help with weight loss and health problems in some people. And it might make your stomach feel like free-flowing waterfalls, rainbows, and unicorns. But it might also do absolutely nothing and displace a healthier approach to nutrition. GF’s impact on weight loss/gain almost always derives from the dietary choices you make around it. Just know that gluten-free products are NOT inherently healthy when applied to the wrong individual — especially when the label is attached to cookies, beer, or cake.

And if you’re swapping out gluten-laced Frosted Mini Wheats, Wonder Bread, brownies, and deep-dish pizza for gluten-devoid veggies, healthy fats, fruit, and lean protein, let me ask: what do you think is going to happen?

Bryan DiSanto

Owner & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
Bryan DiSanto is the Owner & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, ACE-CPT & CSN, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness/nutrition nutjob.

When he’s not working on his (or somebody else’s) abs, whipping up Eggocados, or running a Tough Mudder, he’s probably off yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.
Follow Lean It UP on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info and updates.


References, Notes, Links

  1. NYTimes — A Big Bet on Gluten-Free []
  2. CeliacCentral — Celiac Disease Facts []
  3. USNews — Gluten-Free Diet []
  4. Stevens LRashid MGluten-free and regular foods: a cost comparison. Can J Diet Pract Res. 2008 Fall;69(3):147-50. []


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