6 Gluten-Free Foods That Make You Fat

These foods offer little more than empty calories and extra flab

April 27, 2012
Gluten free foods that make you fat
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Mitch Mandel
Is Gluten Free Making You Fat?

Imagine that an old high school friend of yours recently started sporting crazy neon wigs, push-up bras, and 8-inch heels to work-and within a year, she'd become a millionaire. Maybe you should try doing the same, right? 

Okay, but what if the friend in question was Nicki Minaj, while you were, well, a hardworking ... accountant, paralegal, bus driver, or what have you. Chances are, the neon wigs and extra wiggle wouldn't exactly help in your place of business, right?

Something just like that is happening right now in the world of nutrition: the gluten-free craze. People who have a sensitivity to gluten-a protein found in cereal grains, especially wheat-have special needs (just like Nicki does), and eating gluten-free has a lot of benefits. But trying to copy that method when you're not, in fact, gluten-sensitive can have plenty of downsides.

Now, cutting down on gluten means cutting down on carbs, and that's generally a good thing. The fewer muffins, bagels, and breadsticks you're scarfing up, the healthier and leaner you're going to be-as long as you're replacing those carbs with nutritious foods like vegetables and lean meats. But as the number of gluten-free dieters has grown beyond those who simply can't digest gluten, we've also seen a spike in the number of foods marketed as "gluten free." Some of these foods are okay, but many others are simply new versions of the same old problems-essentially carb-loaded junk foods. They're the equivalent of wearing a pink beehive into a law office; can't help, probably hurts, maybe a lot.

So while the jury is still out on the effectiveness of gluten-free diets, one thing is certain: The six foods on this list aren't going to do you-or your belly-any favors. Banish them from your diet now and you'll have less nutritional closet-cleaning to do later.

Gluten free foods that make you fat
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Courtesty Enjoy Life
6. Worst Gluten-Free Cookie

Glow Gluten-Free Gingersnap Cookies (2 cookies)

220 calories; 12 g fat (5 g saturated); 16 g sugars

If you're looking to indulge without too much remorse, gingersnaps are often the way to go. Ginger naturally packs a flavorful punch without tacking on the caloric heft of chocolate chips, nuts, or candy pieces. Unfortunately, just two of Glow's cookies contain as much saturated fat as 10 McDonald's Chicken McNuggets and more calories than seven Nabisco Ginger Snaps! Enjoy Life uses fruit juices, dates, and applesauce to help sweeten and soften its cookies while keeping fat and calories to a minimum.

Choose This Instead!

Enjoy Life Eat Freely Soft Baked Gingerbread Spice Nut & Gluten-Free Cookies (2 cookies)

120 calories; 4 g fat (0 g saturated); 10 g sugars

Video: Find out how to pick the freshest produce in the supermarket.

Gluten free foods that make you fat
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Courtesy Aleia
5. Worst Gluten-Free Bread

Aleia's Gluten-Free Farmhouse White Bread (2 slices)

240 calories; 8 g fat (0 g saturated); 36 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber

Aleia relies on a combination of eggs and canola oil to bind its loaves, which means more fat and calories per slice. Build a sandwich on this bread, and you'll be on your way to a belt-busting lunch before you've even added toppings. Instead, Udi's bread cuts calories by a full third, and it's bolstered by a substantial 6 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.

Choose This Instead!

Udi's Gluten-Free Millet-Chia Ancient Bread (2 slices)

160 calories; 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated); 28 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber

Gluten free foods that make you fat
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Courtesy Glutino
4. Worst Gluten-Free Breakfast

Glutino Sesame Seed New York Style Bagel (1 bagel)

440 calories; 16 g fat (3 g saturated); 620 mg sodium

Bagels are notoriously calorie-dense-even those without gluten. The listed serving size may be half a bagel, but don't be fooled -- few people will stop at half. To add further insult, Glutino's also manages to pack in more fat per bagel than three scoops of Breyer's Original Strawberry ice cream. Kinnikinnick's is the most moderate bagel around. Make this your morning go-to instead, and you'll save 12 pounds over six months!

Choose This Instead!

Kinnikinnick Foods Tapioca Rice Sesame Bagels (1 bagel)

210 calories; 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated); 390 mg sodium

Gluten free foods that make you fat
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Courtesy Tia's
3. Worst Gluten-Free Dessert

Tia's Scrumptious & Totally Healthy Gluten-Free Grandma's Chocolate Cake (1 individual sized cake)

510 calories; 33 g fat (9 g saturated); 31 g sugars

This "Totally Healthy" cake contains as many calories as 8.5 Fudgesicles, as much fat as 3.5 McDonald's Hamburgers, and more sugar than 10 feet of Fruit by the Foot candy. Splurge on one of these cakes just twice a week and you'll pack on 15 extra pounds by the end of the year! Satisfy your sweet tooth with Amy's deceptively decadent loaf cake; because it comes frozen, you can defrost it a single slice at a time and save the rest for later.

Choose This Instead!

Amy's Gluten-Free Organic Cakes, Chocolate (1 slice, 1/6 of cake)

180 calories; 7 g fat (1 g saturated); 17 g sugars

Gluten free foods that make you fat
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Courtesy Udis
2. Worst Gluten-Free Snack

Udi's Gluten-Free Original Granola (1 cup)

520 calories; 20 g fat (2 g saturated); 20 g sugars

With 20 grams each of both fat and sugar, Udi's granola resembles a dessert far more than it does a breakfast food. In fact, more honey and canola oil go into this granola than do fruit or nuts. Bakery on Main's granola is still too calorie-dense to scarf down like cereal, but a judicious sprinkling over yogurt makes for a solid snack.

Choose This Instead!

Bakery on Main Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Cashew Granola (1 cup)

320 calories; 15 g fat (1 g saturated fat); 16 g sugars

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Courtesy Amy's
1. Worst Gluten-Free Frozen Dinner

Amy's Kitchen Gluten-Free Dairy Free Rice Macaroni & Cheeze (227 g)

520 calories; 22 g fat (5 g saturated); 740 mg sodium

Amy's removes the gluten and the dairy from this dish, but leaves plenty of oil-derived fats. This diminutive tray packs as much fat as 9 Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies and fulfills 25 percent of your day's saturated fat allowance. But in a rare, impressive feat, Glutino manages to create a decent Alfredo pasta. The key? A cream-free, milk-based cheese sauce and enough lean chicken to supply 15 grams of protein.

Choose This Instead!

Glutino Gluten-Free Chicken Penne Alfredo (260 g)

340 calories; 8 g fat (3.5 g saturated); 830 mg sodium

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