Have you ever considered combining two popular diets together? If you have then you are not alone. Hybrid diets have popped up all over the place as more and more people look for ways to lose weight and live healthier lives, without giving up on all of their favourite foods. A perfect example of a hybrid diet would be a gluten-free low-carb diet. On their own, these two eating plans have different uses but when combined, one could reap the benefits of these two meal plans at one time. This article focuses on showing you how to eat low carb successfully while on a gluten free diet, and provides you with a simple meal plan to get you started.
What To Eat On A Gluten-Free Low Carb Diet
A gluten-free diet is an eating plan often suggested to people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or some other food-related allergy or illness caused by the protein found in most whole grains, especially wheat. Such an eating plan helps alleviate their symptoms enabling them to live better quality lives.
A low-carb diet, on the other hand, is an eating plan that restricts a person’s daily intake of carbohydrates – especially those found in sugary foods, pasta, and bread. In place of these carbohydrates, this meal plan demands that its followers eat whole-foods that are rich in protein, fats and are full of vegetables.
The most commonly known and followed low carb diet is the ketogenic diet which is a high-fat, medium-protein and low carbohydrate diet. This diet has been known to help with reducing body weight and body mass index of patients, decreasing levels of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose in your body as well as increasing the level of HDL cholesterol. Caution is however advised as it can lead to hepatic steatosis, hypoproteinemia, kidney stones, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the long-term (9, 7).
How To Eat Low Carb On A Gluten-Free Diet?
Unlike some popular diet combinations, a gluten-free low-carb diet is surprisingly easy to follow. Here is why the foods to avoid on a gluten free diet are pretty straight-forward – if the food/product is made with wheat and wheat derivatives (like spelt, durum, couscous, semolina, farina, farro, kamut, einkorn, wheat berries, bulgur, wheat bran, etc.), barley, rye, triticale and seitan (found in meat substitutes) then it goes into the ‘NO’ pile. Other foods that are not gluten-free include soy sauce and other sauces, malts, beers, and lagers.
With the increase in popularity of this diet, figuring out what foods to and not to eat has been made even easier since most products now are labelled whether they have gluten or not
On the other hand, a ketogenic diet calls for very little to no carbs and replacing them with high intakes of fats. With whole grains already eliminated from this combined eating plan due to having gluten, this very easily drops the amount of carbs you need to watch out for or avoid adding to your grocery list.
For the most part, as long as you follow the keto diet guidelines, you will most likely stay gluten free – but it does not hurt to exercise caution.
Can You Eat A Low-Carb Vegan Gluten-Free Diet?
Yes, you can go on a low carb vegan gluten free diet if you choose to. However, we must caution you that this eating plan will be harder to maintain long-term. Why is this? The main reason is that these two diets (i.e., ketogenic and vegan) are vastly different from each other and thus combining them brings in a whole challenge, especially in figuring out which foods you can consume without blurring the rules set for either eating plan.
For example – As we are all aware, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet that relies heavily on animals and animal-based products for the required fat content. Such products include meats, fish and other seafood, dairy and dairy products, eggs, etc.
On the other hand, a vegan diet is a plant-based eating plan that excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs due to either ethical, environmental, or health reasons.
Looking at these two diets side by side you see how difficult it could be to follow through – while we are not saying that you cannot get your keto friendly fats from plant-based foods, it will be harder for you to hit your fat macros on this meal plan.
Here are some pointers on how to follow a low-carb vegan gluten-free diet.
- Avoid all foods with gluten – This include products from or made with wheat, barley, rye, spelt, farro, couscous, kamut and more.
- Limit and keep track of your daily carb intake – A low-carb ketogenic diet limits your carbohydrate intake to just 50 g a day. By eliminating all gluten-based products, you have already taken out a chunk of high carb foods – but this does not mean you are in the clear. Most vegan friendly foods such as lentils and legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds are quite high in carbs, so be sure to be on the lookout for those.
- Avoid all animal-based products – Most ketogenic recipes call for the inclusion of animal, fish and animal products so they can enable you to easily hit your fats macros for the day. However, for an organic gluten-free low-carb diet that is also vegan friendly, all animal products must go.
- Prioritize your protein intake – Being on a vegan keto diet can mess up your protein intake. Make sure to get your proteins from low-carb vegan protein sources so you do not end up consuming too much carbohydrates.
- Find vegan friendly healthy fats – Some vegan gluten-free low-carb diet friendly healthy fats sources include avocados, nuts and seeds, cooking oils – olive, coconut, avocado, sesame, etc., as well as coconut cream, milk, and butter.
- Eat your vegetables – For the most part vegetables are keto and vegan friendly. However, to be safe, be sure to pick nutrient dense above-ground vegetables, nuts, seeds, and some berries to keep you satisfied and gluten-free.
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How To Do A Low-Carb Low-Cholesterol Gluten-Free Diet
Despite the success of keto weight loss diets as well as this eating plan’s health benefits, some people are still quite concerned about this effect on cholesterol levels. According to the National Health Service, high cholesterol means that you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood.
This condition is mainly caused by eating fatty foods, especially those high in saturated fat or trans fats. High cholesterol can also be caused by not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking, drinking alcohol, and genetics.
As previously stated, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet that relies on fat sources like fatty meats and full-fat dairy, known for their high concentrations of saturated fats. In relation to increasing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, research has different opinions on the matter. Some studies say that this eating plan will lower LDL cholesterol levels while other studies claim the opposite (11, 2, 8, 3).
So how can you do a low-carb low-cholesterol gluten-free diet, to avoid any potential increase in your LDL cholesterol levels? According to Beyond Celiac you should aim to consume lean cuts of meat and poultry, fish and shellfish, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, beans and gluten-free whole grains like quinoa, brown and wild rice, amaranth, and millet.
While this may put a dent in your fat macros, it can help prevent and even lower high blood cholesterol levels.
How Is A Gluten-Free Diet And Low-Carb Diet Different?
How does a gluten-free diet compare to low-carb diet? Because a eating plan without gluten avoids high carbs foods such as breads, pastas, cakes etc., some people may end up thinking that it is the same thing as a low-carb diet.
While these diets may look similar, they are, in fact, not the same thing. The two main differences that help set them apart include:
- Definition of each plan – A keto diet is a high-fat, medium protein, low-carb meal plan whereas a gluten-free diet meal plan is one that avoids all products and foods made with gluten. Unlike the former, the latter does not place any importance on the intake of fats, protein or carbs – just on grain proteins.
- Main purpose of each plan – Most people looking to go on a gluten free plan usually do it because they are suffering from celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. As for low carb diet plans – such as keto – most people choose to try them out because they are looking to lose weight.
So how does a gluten-free diet compare to a low carb diet? In all fairness, comparing these two eating plans would not be okay – one plan is necessitated by health issues while the other one is mostly used for weight loss.
Sample Of A Low-Carb Gluten Free Diet Meal Plan
Here are some simple easy to make low carb gluten free diet recipes
Meal 1 – Egg, Sausage, and Breakfast Casserole
Ingredients – 453 g breakfast sausage, 6 cloves minced garlic, 12 eggs, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2 cups Cheddar cheese, 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 3 cup broccoli florets
This makes 9 servings
Calories for 1 serving: 281. Fats: 23 g. Protein: 17 g. Carbs: 1 g.
Get directions from Wholesomeyum (6)
Meal 2 – Coconut Macadamia Bars
Ingredients – 60 g macadamia nuts, 125 g almond butter, 54.5 g coconut oil, 6 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, 20 drops stevia
This makes 6 bars
Calories for 1 bar: 327. Fats: 33 g. Protein: 5 g. Carbs: 7 g.
Get directions from Low Carb Yum (1)
Meal 3 – Pan Roasted Chicken With Cabbage
Ingredients – 1 shredded cabbage, 2 tbsp sea salt, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 whole chicken (about 2 kg), 3 tbsp taco seasoning
Taco seasoning – 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp sea salt, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp oregano, 1/2 tbsp black pepper
This makes 6 servings
Calories for 1 serving: 629. Fats: 24 g. Protein: 89 g. Carbs: 7 g.
Get directions from The Modern Proper (12).
Meal 4 – Sushi Sandwiches
Ingredients – 1 packet cooked brown sticky rice, 2 (8 inch) nori sheets, 1/4 cup low fat cream cheese, 2 tbsp thinly sliced green onions, 56 g thinly smoked salmon, 1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber, 1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots
This makes 2 servings
Get directions from Cooking Light (13)
Calories for 1 serving: 246. Fats: 8 g. Protein: 11 g. Carbs: 34 g.
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1483. Fats: 88 g. Protein: 122 g. Carbs: 49 g.
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Meal 1 – Cheesy Berry Chocolate Smoothie
Ingredients – 1/4 cup full-fat cream cheese, 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, 40 g raspberries, 1 tbsp unsweetened cacao powder, 1/2 cup water, 1 tbsp MCT oil, 3 drops Stevia
Calories: 512. Fats: 53.6 g. Protein: 6.9 g. Carbs: 6.8 g.
Meal 2 – Ham and Cheese Quiche
Ingredients – 113 g shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, 3 large eggs, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 113 g cubed ham, 1/4 cup diced yellow onion, 1 cups broccoli florets, 1/2 tbsp butter
This makes 4 servings
Calories for 1 serving: 319. Fats: 26 g. Protein: 17 g. Carbs: 5 g.
Get directions from Homemade Interest (10)
Meal 3 – Steak Salad
For the steak – 900 g skirt steak, 2 Romaine hearts, 1 red onion, 2 halved avocados, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 3 tbsp olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste
Blue Cheese Dressing – 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1 tsp Worcestershire, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp white vinegar, 2 tbsp chives, 1 tbsp heavy cream, 113 g crumbled blue cheese
This makes 6 servings
Calories for 1 serving: 696. Fats: 50 g. Protein: 46 g. Carbs: 15 g.
Get directions from The Modern Proper (4)
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1527. Fats: 129.6 g. Protein: 69.9 g. Carbs: 26.8 g.
Is A Gluten-Free Low-Carb Diet Safe?
If you are a person suffering from a celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or any other allergy caused by this grain protein, then this diet is generally safe for you. However, no diet, other than say a balanced diet, is ever 100 percent foolproof.
As mentioned above, the keto diet has its downsides and so does a gluten-free one. Some studies have shown that gluten avoidance can lead to weight gain, nutritional deficiencies, especially in B vitamins, iron, and trace minerals, and is quite expensive as well as increases your risk of hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia, and coronary artery disease (14, 5).
The Bottom Line
A gluten-free low-carb diet is the ideal meal plan for anyone with a gluten related illness who also wishes to lose some extra pounds. Not only does the lack of this grain protein ensure that they will not aggravate their illness, but the low-carb portion of the plan assures weight loss. However, if you are only looking to lose weight and have no problem with gluten or any other gastrointestinal or bowel issues, we would advise against this eating plan as it may cause more harm than good. With that being said, if you choose to attempt this eating plan, please be sure to first speak to a doctor so you may find a way to deal with any adverse effects or deficiencies that may arise.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- COCONUT MACADAMIA BREAKFAST BARS (2016, lowcarbyum.com)
- Effect of low carbohydrate high fat diet on LDL cholesterol and gene expression in normal-weight, young adults: A randomized controlled study (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of Ketogenic Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Evidence from Animal and Human Studies (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Grilled Steak Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing (n.d., themodernproper.com)
- Health Benefits and Adverse Effects of a Gluten-Free Diet in Non–Celiac Disease Patients (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- HEALTHY KETO LOW CARB BREAKFAST CASSEROLE RECIPE WITH SAUSAGE AND CHEESE – GLUTEN FREE (n.d., wholesomeyum.com)
- Ketogenic Diet (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Long term effects of ketogenic diet in obese subjects with high cholesterol level (2006, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- LOW CARB HAM AND CHEESE CRUSTLESS QUICHE (2020, homemadeinterest.com)
- Review of current evidence and clinical recommendations on the effects of low-carbohydrate and very-low-carbohydrate (including ketogenic) diets for the management of body weight and other cardiometabolic risk factors: A scientific statement from the National Lipid Association Nutrition and Lifestyle Task Force (2019, lipidjournal.com)
- Skillet Roasted Chicken with Cabbage (n.d., themodernproper.com)
- Smoked Salmon Sushi Sandwiches (n.d., cookinglight.com)
- The Gluten-Free Diet: Fad or Necessity? (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)