Treatment Guid

How to Lose Weight on the Gluten-Free Diet

The traditional look of celiac disease was an underweight person. However, a large minority (39%) are now found to be overweight at diagnosis.

A woman with a history of struggling to lose weight is diagnosed with celiac disease. After starting the gluten-free diet she loses 50 lbs in less than a year…seemingly without effort. A middle-aged man who has never had issues with his weight is diagnosed with celiac disease, adopts the gluten-free diet and begins to pack on pounds and doesn’t know why. A young man loses over 20 lbs in less than 3 months and reaches his ideal weight after going gluten-free.

These are true stories – in fact the last one was mine.


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About John Libonati

John Libonati
Author Information: John Libonati, SW Florida Publisher, & The Gluten Free Works Treatment Guide.
  • Vanessa Foteu says:

    Thank you for this information! It makes so much sense to me now! I was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and am not fat, but overweight. Previously I was excercing 5-6 times a week to p90x and never really saw a change. Now that I am learning to be gluten free, I want to try it again. Also what you said about craving gluten is so true! I did for about 2 months once I went gluten free.

    P.S You look really hot!

  • Vanessa Foteu says:

    I also want to know what your diet consists of? Do you eat gluten free processed foods? If you eat something with gluten by accident, how will that affect your weight loss? Does it set you back a lot?

    • John L says:

      I eat gluten-free processed foods but I try to keep my diet balanced and overall healthy. Gluten will make me gain 4-6 pounds in a day or so as my body reacts and becomes inflamed. The weight gain is due to the fluid retention. It takes two weeks or so to resolve. So you can see if you’re eating gluten on a regular basis, you will be in a constant state of inflammation. It’s no fun…

  • Karissa Wincell says:

    I am one of those people diagnosed with Celiacs Disease who has gained weight. I have gained 80 pounds in the 2 years since my diagnosis. Any suggestions to get it off quickly? I am walking every day for at least 30 minutes and trying to do more than that when I have time.

    • John L says:

      While some people report an initial gain as the body works to replace nutrients it has been missing, usually things level off. Have you met with a dietitian? They can review your diet to see how to tweak things to make sure you get the nutrients you need while maintaining the appropriate caloric intake. Other issues that can affect weight gain are probiotics, acidosis, cadida albicans overgrowth and medications.

  • Kar K says:

    I’ve gained 10 pounds all around the mid section since diag. and gluten-free a year ago..UGH, any suggestions?? I used to be able to just starve for a week and it would leave, NOT anymore..

  • Dawn Cashman says:

    John, I am so happy I read your blog. I am not gluten intolerant however I need a lifestyle change. My daughter may have Celiac and needs further testing. My sister has Celiac disease and ever since she has gone gluten free her life has changed for the better. My daughter and I are going gluten free and after reading your story and information I feel more inspired to do so! Thank you John!

  • Nichol Roth says:

    John, just want to thankyou for the great blog. I have recently tested positive for Celiac’s and am waiting for biopsy. I had a beautiful baby girl in August and actually gained weight after the pregnancy!! My family doesn’t understand that exercise is nearly impossible because I was also diagnosed with Anemia at the same time and they think I am lazy. I am not lazy just tired all the time! I am so glad to hear that the weight gain is normal and hopefully can be quickly reversed after consultations with a dietician. Thanks for sharing both your knowledge and your story, it inspired me deeply and made me realize that there is a light at the end of what has been a very long, very dark tunnel.

  • Charity says:

    I am a gym junkie and have eaten a well-balanced diet for ages. In contrast, I’ve always been sick and have been getting worse in recent years – with a laundry-list of symptoms. The latest, oddest symptom is my muscle atrophy. I have, over the last couple of years, lost any muscle definition (not that I ever had much). The ridiculousness is, I weight train regularly and take high-intensity dance classes 4 times a week. Everyone else in my dance classes has lost every last bit of excess fat and gained gorgeous, defined muscles. In contrast, I gained a pant size and am flabbier than ever. I was diagnosed with Celiac a few days ago and the doctor explained that my arms, legs and abdomen were swollen with water retention, not fat. She also explained that the inflammation caused by eating gluten has destroyed my intestines’ ability to absorb protein – the protein needed to build muscle. I am hoping to not only gain health with my new gluten-free life, but I also hope to gain muscle and the ideal body I spend so much time working for.

    • John Libonati john.admin says:

      Hi Charity,

      I had EXACTLY the same thing. In the gym 5-6 days a week until I looked like a sausage. I didn’t realize I was actually burning up my muscle and my body was not absorbing enough protein to replenish it and build.

      You are going to love your results! Make sure you eat a nutrient-dense diet. Here is a gluten free diet guide. Go easy on the high cal/nutrient poor gluten free snacks. You’ll be craving breads, candies and such. Meats, eggs (especially as they’re easy to digest – eat white and yolk together), fruits, veggies, beans, nuts… you get the idea. Give yourself a couple months. Too optimize your diet, try dropping cow’s milk products and cane sugar. Replace with goat or sheep cheeses and use honey to sweeten instead of sugar.

  • Bunmi says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

  • SUSAN says:

    HI JOHN,




  • sue says:

    Thanks John for information ,like all other posts i have had the same weight problems ive always thought that gluton foods where making me hold water weight around my middle arms and legs ,just looked bloated all the time,ive just had another celiac blood test ,i have so many of the symtoms and yet when tested two years ago the test was negative,ive told my husband this time regardles of blood result im getting all gluten foods out of my diet ,am just 60 and i go to the gym 3 times a week ,i was being told it was just my age ,regards sue

  • Renee says:

    I am so frustrated. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease 6 months ago and have been 100% gluten free since then. I have gained 35 lbs in the last two years and cannot lose an ounce. I am bloated all of the time and my body resists any time I start to lose a pound or two. I take a multi, vitamin D, B-12 and folic acid because I was dangerously low in all of those. I don’t know what to do to make me lose weight. Any suggestions??

  • Great article with useful tips. Thanks for sharing. I’m feeling inspired!

  • dude says:

    dude Its so hard to find some help for new celiac patients pertaining to sports and training… Ive looked all over but everyone kept telling me Ill get fatter after I go gluten free but I train like crazy now and am still slightly over weight… hopefully it works out the same for me like it did for you… thanks a lot dude

  • lori skea says:

    I too have been diagnosed for over two years and still can’t loose the extra six pounds. I’m very frustrated! Please let me know what I can do!! Where’s the article that everyone’s talking about! thx

  • Lisa says:

    I am typical. Bloated before Celiac Diagnosis. I thought I’d lose it went I went GF. HA! GF products have MORE sugar and fat, but I ate it anyway. Since diagnosis nearly 5 years ago, I gained over 10 pounds. Mostly around the middle. I found myself experiencing shortness of breath, fatigue and of course constantly trying to find something comfortable to wear.

    I joined Weight Watchers on Jan 8 of this year and I’m learning to eat GF in a healthy way. I’ve lost only about 6-7 pounds since I decided “enough,” but I’m feeling GOOD and have already lost a big portion of the roll on my belly. I’m wearing clothes I could not wear a year ago.

    I do exercise as well. There’s no starving on weight watchers…just learning how to make better choices, and be willing to not eat all of something. Lots of fruits and vegetables have made a huge difference.

    I hope this is helpful.

  • Connie McKeon says:

    I am so glad I found this website! I have seen a GP (3 times) GYN, and endocrinologist. I have had every blood test under the sun, pelvic ultrasound, and abdominal CT. (I gained about 20 pounds in 3 months with no change in diet or exercise, and I am 54 and postmenapausal.) All the tests showed how healthy I am, with the exception of thyroid antibodies, which showed I have slight case of Hashimoto’s Disease (with no treatment ordered).

    Anyway, I finally went to a nutritionist and told her my story. She suggested that I get a Celiac panel done. (Previous research on Celiac’s revealed that only weight loss was a symptom, not weight gain.) Lo and behold I have “early Celiac disease” and my doctor suggested a gluten free diet! I started 2 weeks ago and am a bit frustrated because I haven’t lost a pound! I am keeping a food diary and am eating approx. 1500 calories a day (per my nutritionist). Last week, I played soccer three nights (an hour and a half each) and do weight training 3 times a week. Am I doing something wrong or will it just take time to get rid of this weight? Any hints are welcome!

  • Kiri says:

    My first month off gluten I gained 10 pounds – because I was gorging myself on GF goodies, LOL, reassuring myself that there were such things.

    I lost 15 pounds the second month and have continued to lose, and at four months off gluten, am wearing the sizes I wore 10 years ago.

    I’m really annoyed at my doctors for telling me all my problems were caused by my weight–it was ME who diagnosed my celiac disease, and made them test for it “to rule it out”. (I tested off the chart.) And now it turns out that my weight was caused by celiac disease. I’m pretty sure it was because I was absorbing calories, but not nutrients, and therefore craving food all the time. I used to eat non-stop some days.

    Now I not only just want to eat when I’m hungry, sometimes I find myself stopping in the middle of a meal because I’ve realised I just don’t want the rest of it, no matter how good it is or how much I paid for it. I just…don’t want any more food. I’m full, I’m done, that was enough!

    Can’t tell you how much I love shopping in the regular stores again.

  • Stephanie G says:

    I am completely frustrated with the gluten free diet. I have been gluten free for 16 months after being diagnosed with CD and have gained at least 10-15 lbs, which is a lot considering i am 5’2″. I eat healthier than ever before, exercise regularly and am heavier than ever. I just don’t get it. I am to the point I would rather ditch the GF diet to just lose the weight. I can’t stand feeling fluffy!!!! Please send any helpful advice that you might have!

  • Stephanie says:

    I was recently diagnosed w/CD. I complained to my doctors since Nov 2009 that something was wrong they all said, eat less, exercise more. I gained 10lbs in one weekend of vacation. No matter how much I exercised or how little I ate I wasn’t losing weight.

    I had a lot of fatigue. I was so tired that I would sleep 12 hours at night and still need an afternoon nap. My husband said I was nuts.

    Finally and endocrinologist looked at the labs and figured out what was wrong in one appointment. I thought it was hypothryoidism, and was shocked when he told me CD.
    I started immediately on the lifestyle and have notice a small improvement. I have done a ton of research and unlike any other diet i’ve done before there is no cheating on this time.

    I am glad that someone else was overweight to start with, it gives me hope. Everything I have read up until this point says diagnosed people are underweight and lacking essential nutrients. I am lacking nutrients just not the weight.

  • Lucy says:

    Its interesting to see what other people are experiencing. I am about to start cutting gluten out of my diet due to a possible diagnosis of CD. It seems to me, eating gluten free is not a ticket to eating all the gluten free products out there which are if not more full of calories and sugar. I also noticed that a lot of gluten free products have soy in them which can be just as bad for some people and may be the reason there is difficulty with weight loss. Soy wrecks my stomach. I am no expert, but guessing clean eating is the way to go and eat a light portion of the allowed grains.

  • darlene says:

    i have been diagnosed with cd since 1999 which then i was 90 pds. i now wiegh awhopping 170 pds. which is horrible. enerything in these artiles fit me. from the vitmins to excersizze. i joined the gym 2 months ago and gained 10 pds. i will now take this info to a dr. specializing in cd. thankyou for the info. i will follow it to finally get better

  • jennifer says:

    Hi John,
    Thanks for this info. I also work out at the gym 3-5 times a week, eat roughly 1300-1500 cals, eat purely gluten free for the past year, recently cut out sugar and gained weight.
    I have been measuring my food etc, the more I worry the heavier I get. I can not wait to try this. Thank you!

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Be sure you are eating enough calories – what I mean is that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs – vitamins, minerals, etc. If your body is deficient, even functionally deficient, you are more likely to gain weight. Cutting calories and exercise seems like the right thing to do, but it backfires if your body malabsorbs nutrients (celiac disease), or you are not consuming the right nutrients. Look at your hair, nails, skin, etc. If you see signs of deficiencies, correct them. (And remember, worry/anxiety is a symptom – could be b vitamin or hypoglycemia.) is an excellent reference guide that tells you which symptoms match up with which deficiencies and the foods that are highest in those nutrients so you can build a diet that meets your individual needs.. Otherwise, you can look up symptoms and deficiencies online.

      Good luck!


  • Marcy says:

    I am 5’5′ and weigh 320 lb. I can relate to so much of this article. I have no energy at all. I gained 100 lbs in the last 3 years. On my own I went gluten free 4 months ago and I do feel a little better, but not great and have not lost or gained any weight. To make matter more dificult I do not tolerate any fruits or vegtables. My intestines are sensitive to most foods. I can eat only eggs, meat, non processed dairy and nuts. That is about all. I know that I am not getting proper nutritiion, but everything makes me sick when i eat. I actually don’t like to eat because I don’t feel good after I eat. I have an esophagogastroduodenoscopy scheduled to do biopsies to test for celiac, but they want me to eat wheat again. I tried, but it made me sick and I just can’t do it. I am not sure where to go from here. I do think that I have celiac’s but I think there is more than just that. Any encouragement or ideas are welcome….. feeling discouraged. marcy

  • Leanne says:

    I have coeliac disease and have found myself gaining alot of weight. But since being gluten free for the past 8-9 months I have lost a stone but am still very much struggling to get back to my normal weight. What things can I do on a regular basis to loose the weight? I’m worried that because I don’t eat veg nor much fruit a d hardly drink water that my body isn’t being looked after and that I won’t ever be able to loose it due to being malnourished can anyone advise me with what to do:)

  • Anna says:

    WOW! This sounds exactly like me… or what I am hoping will happen! I was diagnosed 1 month ago (endoscopy – Dec. 2012) after suffering for 10-15 years with symptoms. I am a group exercise instructor, training for triathlons and end up working out 2-3 hours a day. I am still a 5’5″ female at 147 lbs. and cannot, no matter what I try, lose weight. I am so frustrated!!! I am hoping that now with my diagnosis and going GF, that I will finally be able to get my weight where it should be. I am an extremely healthy eater (green superfood powders, flax, chia, quinoa, lots of organic veggies, lean organic meats, etc.) but nothing has worked in the past. I need support! Since going off gluten, however, my weight has actually gone up (5lbs) and my symptoms (gas, bloating and C&D) have seemed to get even worse. Did anyone else get “worse” before they got better? I am so frustrated!

    • Hi Anna,

      My symptoms worsened the first week, but evened out by around day 7.

      Looks like you are eating a lot of fiber. Be sure you aren’t eating too much fiber. It can cause IBS and malabsorption of nutrients. (The nutrients get trapped by the fiber.)


  • Lila says:

    Loved this information! About 7 years ago, went to my doctor because I was having symptoms of Celiac Disease. I asked “Could it be celiac?” his reply to me was “Well, you’re hardly wasting away, so no” Okay. Well my symptoms got worse (health deteriorated badly in 2012) and I kept gaining weight despite exercise and smaller meals (still glutening though) I received my celiac diagnosis on January 14, 2013. So, yes you really can be overweight and have CD! Now I am GF and feeling so much better already and am actually craving fruits and veg. Cabbage is one of my cravings! Now we’ll see if my Gluten Free lifestyle and healthier eating regime will help in weight loss. Oh energy levels have increased so I am already more active!

  • Anna says:

    Thanks so much John! It has been a month now and no better. Hoping that it comes soon though. This week I am cutting down on the fiber and am also doing a “detox” recommended by my doctor (cutting out all fruits (except 1/2 cup berries a day), dairy, all added sugars, all starchy veggies and all “supplementy” things like chia, flax, supergreen powder, vegan protein powder etc. Basically eating a lot of fresh produce and lean organic meats and if it has a label on it, I am staying away. I started 3 days ago and it really isn’t better either. I love veggies, they are pretty much what I live on (salad are my fave), but do you suggest trying to give those up too? What all should I eat? Just trying to get to the bottom of this! Literally! :) Thanks so much!

    • Hi Anna,

      Be sure you are nutritional status is good. Not just what you are eating, but whether you are absorbing. Look at your nails, hair, eyes, skin. Functional malnutrition can make you overweight. I know it sounds crazy, like not getting enough nutrients makes you fat?!! It’s true. A really good test is Spectracell Laboratories’ nutritional analysis. Your doctor can order it, or we can help you get it. If your nutrition levels are all good, then look at things like body acidity and probiotics. You want to be slightly alkaline. You want a good colony of probiotics (intestinal bacteria). And exercise. 20 minutes per day of moderately intense exercise revs up your metabolism. That’s every day, not binge exercising once or twice per week. Hope this helps!

  • Julie says:

    Thank you for providing such an informative website. I have been the brunt of my family’s derision because I was the only one who was overweight. No matter how little I ate, I gained weight. After a lifetime of health issues that were hard to deal with (IBS, arthritis, thyroiditis, horrible periods, infertility, parathyroid tumor, gallbladder disease, adrenal insufficiency, skin rashes and hives, and two forms of b cell lymphoma) I finally found information that led me to the realization that my health issues were the result of gluten intolerance. I started a gluten free diet and lost 20 pounds almost right away. Unfortunately, the damage had been done, and my lymphoma transformed into a more aggressive form. I have just finished chemotherapy ( and recovered from having my knee and a third of my femur replaced because the lymphoma riddled the bone) and am looking more stringently for hidden sources of gluten to prevent further stimulation to my immune system. STAY ON YOUR DIETS FOLKS! Cheating can have horrible consequences. I just wish SOMEONE knew enough to properly diagnose me before all this happened. Currently I am having allergy and intolerance testing, and found that I am vitamin B 12 deficient, and cannot absorb enough orally or sublingually, and am starting giving my self B 12 shots. I feel a LOT better, and hope this and other nutritional strategies will keep further lymphoma from coming back. I am looking for a competent doctor specializing in gluten intolerance to help me develop a lifelong treatment plan and monitor nutritional deficiencies that continue to affect my health (low serum protein, low serum sodium, etc.). I have had to do a lot of what I’ve done on my own, and want a doctor that can “connect the dots” and realizes what is really goung on!

  • DD says:

    Hi John Thank you so much for this information. I had heard of celiac disease early last year and wondered if I may perhaps have this? I am without medical insurance at the moment due to job change, but I seem to have so many issues with food regarding sensitivity and swelling I am even more convinced I have it. the edema in my legs sometimes is worrying, I sneeze like crazy if something has gluten in it, I am exhausted all the time, when I have anything with sugar my whole body becomes inflammed and it takes about 3 days to go down, I have arthritis and weak muscles. I cannot tolerate dairy, or salt, vegetable oil is a big problem, any bread, anything with rye, oats even some seasonings its crazy.

    if I have sugar I feel my moods shift rapidly and I just want to sleep.

    I wondered as I have to wait until my insurance is effective if there is somewhere I could have a test done independently?

    Thanks so much John

  • Karrie R. Kondel says:

    Hi John,
    So happy to see others out there with the same struggles. I have been diagnoses with celiac after 15 years of illness. I was able to maintain a normal wt but had severe nutrional defeciencies. Now i am struggling to not gain wt and train for a tri. I need to lose 10 lbs and am finding it impossible. I eat healthy is my body in panic mode still or what? Frustrated at 5’6″ and 149 lbs.

  • Lisa says:

    I am so glad I read this. I found this site while waiting to call my doctor to make the appointment to get tested for me (overweight) and my daughter (underweight) I read that and realized that an issue I’ve been struggling with for years that no Dr could explain (I got the it’s all in your head response) is easily explained and that others are going through the exact same thing! I dieted and went lower carb and lost weight, and even though I ate healthy and wasn’t eating to little I became sick and weak every time I tried to lose the weight. I was to the point of almost fainting from any activity, I would lift weights and make great gains only to have them plummet at the 6-8 week mark making me weaker than when I started. I was beginning to think I’d never be able to get healthy, I thought my choices were be fat and live a bearable (but not good quality) life or thin and deathly ill. I’m so glad I read this and now know there is a third option! I’m also glad to know that my carb cravings aren’t just me being weak and having poor self control like people keep telling me.

  • Nate says:

    I’m 26 years old and have suffered with stomach issues as long as I could remember. I started seeing a GI specialist and he checked me for every possible thing related to GI tract and didnt find any source of the issues. About two weeks after my GI appointment I suffered anaphlaxysis shock and spent two days in the hospital. (This was my third reaction in three years.) I made a request to mayo clinic in Scottsdale, AZ. After spending about a week in AZ I was diagnosed with a critical wheat allergy. I arrived back home on July 16th and have not had any wheat since. I’ve lost a total of 21 pounds since 7/16/13 and have not had any GI issues since 7/15/13. Being allergic to wheat makes you think a lot more of what your putting into your body, no more quick meals, fast food, or restaurant meals.. It’s amazing how great I feel, more energy, no headaches, I’m finally ME! I would encourage everyone I know to get rid of gluten in their diet, it’s amazing what it can do. It works!

  • Neal Stark says:

    Losing weight is a long-term adherence thing which you should be practice everyday.

  • Kelly says:

    I eat 100% gluten free and have constant bloating issues. The last few articles have really helped. I’m going to start a probiotic, stop eating dairy and try the citrus! Thank you for the help!

  • Cathy says:

    My Dad had CD, I had been diagnosed with IBS years ago. My intestinal biopsy came back normal… but after decades of struggling with sudden diarrhea attacks, chronic GERD, exhaustion, muscle & joint pain, and excess weight, I decided to do an elimination diet. Almost immediately, my chronic pain and digestive issues decreased. My daughter eats gluten and has to run for the toilet 20 minutes later…my son has chronic brain fog, both of my kids suffer from depression and anxiety/ panic disorder. They are young adults and are responsible for health choices, but both choose to keep eating gluten. I’m still very exhausted when I exercise and end up feeling hypoglycemic and weak. I need to lose 200#.

  • Ornella says:

    it is very nice of you to share the diet tips with us

  • vidhushi gupta says:

    Hi i am 13 years old and have celiac disease n my weight is 60 kg what should i do to lose weight?? Plzzz helll mee

  • osmajasmin says:

    These acids are necessary for a healthy heart. Fish, eggs are low in omega-3 fatty acids. However, soy oil, ground flax seeds, soy beans, canola oil are valuable resources of omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Patricia says:

    Thank you for this information. I too am having issues with losing weight.
    “The Gluten Free Works Health Recovery Center is a reference that can help you identify and correct missing nutrients. ” This link is not working… I would very much like some more information. This is exactly what I have been searching for!
    Thank you.

  • Jessi Angell says:

    Gah! I could give you a hug for this info.. it makes sense. I’ve been gaining weight after being completely gluten free for 2 years (celiacs disease) while eating healthy and exercising. I hike, kayak, play outside all the time… still the weight gain BUT, I’ve been skimping on the vitamins. I was deficient in D3 and b12.. took them long enough to feel better .. then stopped. So I thoroughly believe it’s the lack of vitamins and probiotics that’s making me gain weight and look like I’m 30 months preggo.. anyway.. thank you for this info!!!!

  • Alysa says:

    Great great info here. I have ibs out of nowhere- had a great stomach all my life- but last winter had several stomach bugs. Do u believe in post infectious gluten sensitivity? I just started cutting out gluten 4 days ago- I believe that I had the edema sympotom bc I’m down 4lbs- def not complaining- would be thrilled to know there is something I can do to help my issues. Thx!

    • Hi Alysa! Glad you’re finding it useful. Virus and other infections are known to trigger overt celiac disease symptoms. The NIH lists them in fact.

      Once the inflammation is gone and the gut heals, the calories in/out part of dieting starts working. As long as the gut and immune system are impacted by gluten (or any trigger) digestion and absorption are affected. Most of my weight was edema/fluid retention. My IBS resolved after about two weeks, so give it time and avoid processed gluten-free foods as much as possible. Sugar/sucrose is another thing to avoid once you have the gluten-free diet under your belt. That was the last key to my puzzle. Once I dropped sugar, everything fell into place. (I substitute with honey or fructose.) Cheers!

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