No-Grain Diet: Is It Healthy? (2023)

Going grain-free is unnecessary and too limited for most dieters, but there could be real benefits for people with digestive disorders.

No-Grain Diet: Is It Healthy? (1)Share on Pinterest

New York City restaurant Hu Kitchen launched their first grain-free bagel last week.

It’s a bold move in a city that prides itself on this breakfast staple.

But the eatery already offers an array of grain-free foods, from 100 percent grass-fed beef burgers on “faux-caccia” buns to treats like banana nut muffins and berry crumble.

Beyond its grain-free options, Hu Kitchen is at the forefront of many food trends. It describes its offerings as organic and “preindustrial,” with no GMOs, gluten, soy, dairy, emulsifiers, canola oil, or processed salt.

“Don’t knock it until you’ve cut it,” said Jordan Brown, the business’s co-founder and chief executive officer.

He told Healthline that people need to experiment with their diets to find out what works best for them.

“Our approach at Hu Kitchen is, ‘What has made us feel better?,’” he said.

Brown noted that when he cut grains from his diet, he had more energy, a better complexion, and less joint pain when he exercised.

He doesn’t shun all grains — Hu Kitchen serves breakfast oatmeal, for example — but there are dieters who do.

The paleo diet, popularized by scientist Loren Cordain, Ph.D., excludes grains and numerous other foods based on the theory that it’s healthiest to eat as humans did during the Paleolithic era.

And proponents of gluten-free diets, such as author Dr. Mark Hyman, readily suggest that people with certain medical conditions try cutting out all grains, while celebrities like actress Gwyneth Paltrow tout grain-free recipes.

(Video) No Grains Diet

But there’s plenty of evidence that grains actually have health benefits — and going grain-free may carry its own risks.

Read more: The keto diet is gaining popularity, but is it safe? »

The grains we typically eat in foods like bread and breakfast cereal begin as the seeds of grasses belonging to the Poaceae family.

The most common types are wheat, corn, rice, rye, oats, and barley. Others have also become popular, such as sorghum, farro, and spelt.

Some, like wheat and barley, contain gluten, but others, such as oats and corn, don’t.

There are also “pseudo-grains,” popular in niche health foods, such as quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. They are seeds from different plant species.

Most grains have a similar nutrition profile, providing a source of B vitamins and fiber, some minerals like selenium and copper, along with carbohydrates and varying amounts of protein.

Where things get more complicated is the difference between whole grains and refined grains.

Any food labeled “whole grain,” whether it’s flour or pasta, should contain all parts of the grain seed.

Refined grains like white rice and white flour, on the other hand, contain only portions of the seed. This strips the grain of about a quarter of its protein and at least half its nutrients.

(Video) Why Going Grain Free Matters | Dr. Gundry Clips

Refining, the Whole Grain Council reports, leaves the grain “a mere shadow of its original self.”

There’s overwhelming scientific evidence that whole grains are good for you.

This past June, a research review published in BMJ that included 45 high-quality cohort studies found that eating whole grains is associated with lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and death from all causes.

Studies have also linked diets high in whole grains to healthier cholesterol levels and reduced odds of having type 2 diabetes.

Conversely, diets high in refined grains may actually increase the risk of many of those health problems.

Cutting all refined grains from your diet is a reasonable and healthy choice, according to Angie Murad, a registered dietitian nutritionist with the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program.

But she emphasized that whole grains are important to a well-balanced diet.

“I really worry about people who exclude entire food groups,” Murad told Healthline. “Having grains is fine. Choosing the right type of grains is a bigger factor.”

Read more: A gluten-free diet may not do you any good »

Around the world, it’s become common for people to stop eating certain foods, often because they believe the change will improve their health.

(Video) What if You STOP Eating Grains for 14 Days?

A Nielsen survey released last month found that nearly two out of three global consumers exclude specific ingredients from their diets.

Grain-free eating is part of that trend.

Another Nielsen report found that over a 52-week period ending July 30, 2016, sales of products that included a “grain-free” label claim went up more than 75 percent.

But there are risks when people cut entire categories of food without making sure they’re getting all the essential nutrients they need.

Going grain-free seems to be at the crossroads of the paleo diet and gluten-free trends.

In small studies, “eating paleo” has shown promise for improving risk factors for heart disease and blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. But the diet has also been criticized for its high saturated fat content, and for putting people at risk of calcium and vitamin D deficiencies.

Gluten-free diets are vital for people with celiac disease, a serious autoimmune condition, as well as those who have gluten sensitivities.

There’s also evidence that gluten increases intestinal permeability, which some believe may be related to other autoimmune issues.

But for people who need a gluten-free diet, there’s virtually no evidence that cutting non-gluten whole grains, like oats and brown rice, is helpful.

In fact, people who go gluten-free without eating other sources of fiber may, ironically, end up constipated.

Murad told Healthline that people are often interested in these trendy diets for weight loss but give up because the rules are too challenging.

She said it’s possible to get the nutrients found in grains from other sources, such as legumes and tubers, but it’s hard.

“Eliminating a food group, or even decreasing it, is pretty difficult to do,” she added.

(Video) Are Whole Grains Needed in any Diet?

Read more: Get the facts on inflammatory bowel disease »

For most healthy people, evidence is sparse that going grain-free will be anything but inconvenient.

But for people with certain digestive disorders, some research suggests that eliminating grains eases symptoms.

Last year, a case series in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that the Specific Carbohydrate Diet — which excludes all grains and pseudo-grains, among other requirements — may help manage inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The researchers looked at data from 50 people with IBD who followed the eating plan and were in remission. More than 92 percent believed the restrictive diet helped them stay healthy.

Mindy Fleder, a 60-year-old New Yorker, believes her special diet has warded off digestive troubles.

Both her mother and sister have Crohn’s disease, and Fleder had polyps in her colon when she was in her 40s.

After seeking medical advice, Fleder gave up dairy and gluten, and later went entirely grain-free.

“It’s basically due to my family history,” she told Healthline, adding that she has colonoscopies every few years with good results so far.

To help stick with her diet, Fleder orders meals from Food Matters NYC, a gourmet delivery service that offers grain-free options.

(Video) 154 Vinnie Tortorich: No Sugar, No Grains (The Best Diet Ever)

Tricia Williams, the service’s founder and executive chef, told Healthline that about 80 percent of their clientele are grain-free.

People come to Food Matters NYC with many different health concerns, she explained, and her team designs meals to support those clients’ needs.

“I wouldn’t demonize grains,” Williams told Healthline, but she added that many of her clients report feeling better without them.


Can a grain-free diet be healthy? ›

A grain-free diet may reduce inflammation, aid weight loss, and improve digestion and blood sugar levels. It may also promote mental health and alleviate pain in people with fibromyalgia or endometriosis, though more research is needed.

Do you actually need grains? ›

Despite widespread consumption, many people remain unsure whether grains support health. Some think they are an essential component of a healthy diet, while others believe that they cause harm. The truth is, whole grains in particular are linked to numerous health benefits and are mostly considered very nutritious.

What does not eating enough grains do? ›

"Giving up grains, particularly whole grains, can lead to constipation, bloat, and gastrointestinal distress," Taub-Dix says. "If you barely eat any grains now, add those that are high in fiber back to your diet slowly, and be sure to pair with fluids—like water or tea—to minimize any side effects.

Does going on a no grain diet make you slimmer? ›

Grains and weight loss

These foods can still be loaded with sugar, as well as artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Ultimately, unless refined grain products are eaten to excess in the first place, cutting out grains is unlikely to have any real weight loss benefits.

Are potatoes a grain? ›

Potatoes aren't grains, they're a type of starchy vegetable. That's good news for people who can't tolerate gluten because they have celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Are grains inflammatory? ›

Refined grains have been linked to higher levels of inflammatory markers in the blood, which is not only bad for arthritis but may also increase your risk for other inflammatory conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

What happens when you cut out wheat? ›

There's no scientific evidence to suggest that people actually go through “withdrawal” when they stop eating gluten. Some people report feeling dizziness, nausea, extreme hunger and even anxiety and depression when they suddenly go from eating a lot of gluten to being gluten-free.

What is the healthiest grain? ›

1. Whole Oats. Oats are among the healthiest whole grains you can eat. They're not only packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber but also naturally gluten-free.

Are humans meant to eat grains? ›

Contrary to popular belief, humans were never meant to eat grains. Let's take a little peek back at our origins to see why we were never meant to eat grains. Back in the Stone Age, our ancestors were already built like today's humans. They were hunter-gatherers, subsisting on fruit, vegetables, and meat.

How much grains does the body need a day? ›

Experts have recommended eating 5 to 8 ounces of grains per day, 3 to 6 ounces of which should be whole grains. For reference, one ounce of grains is equivalent to one slice of bread or half a cup of cooked pasta or rice.

What happens to your body when you stop eating carbs and sugar? ›

Severe carb limits can cause your body to break down fat into ketones for energy. This is called ketosis. Ketosis can cause side effects such as bad breath, headache, fatigue and weakness. It's not clear what kind of possible long-term health risks a low-carb diet may pose.

Are nuts a grain or protein? ›

What foods are in the Protein Foods Group? Protein Foods include all foods made from seafood; meat, poultry, and eggs; beans, peas, lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products. Beans, peas, and lentils are also part of the Vegetable Group.

How long does it take for grain free diet to work? ›

It can take between six months and up to five years (in some cases longer) for the gut damage caused by eating gluten to fully heal. Several factors are thought to be involved in the variable time taken for the gut to heal, including age and severity of gut damage at diagnosis.

Are chickpeas a grain? ›

The major grain legumes grown in the U.S. include dry peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, fava beans, lupins, vetches, and dry beans.

Is rice considered a grain? ›

Rice is a main staple in more than 100 countries worldwide. [1] In some households, rice is included with more than one meal a day. This starchy high-calorie grain is generally low cost, making it accessible to all and a vital base of many diets.

Is Peanut Butter considered a grain? ›

Is Peanut Butter Gluten- and Grain-Free? Yes, peanut butter is typically gluten- and grain-free. Peanuts are naturally gluten- and grain-free, and most peanut butter is made from peanuts, oil, and salt.

Is spaghetti a grain? ›

Bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, grits, and tortillas are examples of grain products. Foods such as popcorn, rice, and oatmeal are also included in the Grains Group. Grains have two subgroups: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains have the entire grain kernel, which includes the bran, germ, and endosperm.

Is Sweet Potato considered a grain? ›

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) in Washington, DC, offers this answer: Since they are good sources of vitamin C and potassium, potatoes are more like vegetables than grain products, which is why the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid groups potatoes with vegetables.

What is the number 1 inflammatory food? ›

The five types of foods that cause inflammation include:
  • Red meat and processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats and cured meats.
  • Refined grains, including white bread, white rice, pasta and breakfast cereals.
  • Snack foods, including chips, cookies, crackers and pastries.
  • Sodas and other sweetened drinks.
Jun 29, 2022

Do grains inflame the gut? ›

Research has shown that grains can inflame the intestinal barrier and promote a condition called leaky gut (1). Leaky gut is when the intestines become overly permeable due to chronic inflammation. This can then promote an over-activation of the immune system and chronic inflammation throughout the body.

What are 5 grains to avoid? ›

Traditionally, the category of forbidden foods on Passover — known as hametz — was defined as the fermented products of five grains: wheat, spelt, barley, oats and rye.

Can you live without wheat? ›

While wheat is off-limits to those with celiac disease and allergies, for everyone else, going wheat-free is a personal choice that may help you reduce the amount of processed food you eat. To maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet, be sure to eat a variety of whole grains — and that may include wheat.

What happens if you don't eat wheat for a month? ›

"When you stop eating gluten, you may experience less bloating, lowered inflammation, clearer skin, more energy, and less brain fog," Snyder says.

What can I eat if I can't eat wheat? ›

Gluten-free foods (safe to eat)
  • most dairy products, such as cheese, butter and milk.
  • fruits and vegetables.
  • meat and fish (although not breaded or battered)
  • potatoes.
  • rice and rice noodles.
  • gluten-free flours, including rice, corn, soy and potato flour.

What is the unhealthiest grain? ›

Grains to avoid are wheat (such as wheat berries, spelt, kamut, farro and bulgur), rye, barley and triticale.

What are 2 healthy grain options? ›

Enjoy a variety of whole grain foods every day, such as:
  • quinoa.
  • whole grain pasta.
  • whole grain bread.
  • whole oats or oatmeal.
  • whole grain brown or wild rice.
May 3, 2022

What is the easiest grain to digest? ›

White rice

When looking for grains that are easy on the digestive system, white rather than brown, black, or red rice may be a better option. Enriched white rice will have added vitamins and minerals, which enhance its nutritional value. Half a cup of long grain, dry, brown rice provides : 300 calories.

What did humans eat before grains? ›

Until agriculture was developed around 10,000 years ago, all humans got their food by hunting, gathering, and fishing.

What was the original diet of humans? ›

Prior to about 3.5 million years ago, early humans dined almost exclusively on leaves and fruits from trees, shrubs, and herbs—similar to modern-day gorillas and chimpanzees.

What are humans supposed to eat naturally? ›

Fruits, green leafy parts of plants, shoots, seeds, nuts, roots and tubers are the fundamental components of the primate eating pattern – and common sense tells us that these foods should be the foods that humans eat, too.

Is oatmeal considered whole grain? ›

Oats are one of the most beloved whole grains – in fact, when we surveyed American consumers in 2018, oats were the second most popular whole grain after whole wheat, and oatmeal was nearly the most popular whole grain food, coming in second only to whole grain bread.

Is popcorn a whole grain? ›

Did you know that popcorn is a 100 percent whole grain? And that one serving of popcorn provides about one-third of the whole grains most American adolescents and adults need?

What are good grains for breakfast? ›

I recommend that you include at least three servings of whole grains, such as brown rice, barley, quinoa, amaranth, teff, sorghum, buckwheat, wild rice, and wheat (including farro, spelt, Kamut, and bulgur), in your diet every day for optimal health. At least one of those servings should be at the breakfast table!

What is the best diet to go on? ›

The 9 Best Diet Plans for Your Overall Health
  1. The Mediterranean diet. ...
  2. The DASH diet. ...
  3. Plant-based and flexitarian diets. ...
  4. The MIND diet. ...
  5. WW (formerly Weight Watchers) ...
  6. Intermittent fasting. ...
  7. The Volumetrics diet. ...
  8. The Mayo Clinic Diet.

What happens to your brain when you stop eating carbs? ›

You may feel foggy as your body tries to keep up normal blood sugar levels. It might be hard to sleep at first. You might feel very tired, which will make your brain feel even fuzzier for a while.

Can you live without sugar or carbs? ›

While some organs can learn to live without carbohydrates, others can't. This means that it is a good idea to include carbohydrates in your diet as they are the easiest way to provide glucose to your body. That being said, you can cut down on or cut out carbs if you are getting enough calories every day.

What are the 3 healthiest nuts to eat? ›

Most nuts appear to be generally healthy. But some may have more heart-healthy nutrients than others. For example, walnuts contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans also appear to be quite heart healthy.

What vegetable has the most protein? ›

Green peas are at the top of the list of the most protein-filled vegetables. Technically, they're legumes, but many of us consider them vegetables because of their bright green color and delicate flavor. You might be surprised by their protein content, though: a cup of green peas contains about 8 grams of protein.

How do you get fiber on a no grain diet? ›

Examples of foods with soluble fiber include:
  1. Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans)
  2. Fruits (apples, pears, oranges, prunes)
  3. Vegetables (carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant)
  4. Sweet potatoes.
  5. Ground flax seeds and chia seeds.
May 24, 2019

What are the symptoms of detoxing from grains? ›

You might have withdrawal symptoms.

You could experience nausea, leg cramps, headaches, and overall fatigue. Doctors recommend getting lots of water and avoiding strenuous activity during the detox period.

How close are we to a cure for celiac disease? ›

There will be no approved treatments or a cure for celiac disease without clinical trials. That means there will be no approved treatments or a cure for celiac disease if we can't find patients willing to participate in clinical trials.

What happens if you don't eat grains? ›

A grain-free diet may reduce inflammation, aid weight loss, and improve digestion and blood sugar levels. It may also promote mental health and alleviate pain in people with fibromyalgia or endometriosis, though more research is needed.

What flour has no grains? ›

Almond flour is one of the more well-known grain-free and gluten-free flours and can be used interchangeably with wheat flour, whole wheat flour, or white flour in a 1:1 ratio. Almond flour is made from ground almonds, blanched in boiling water to remove the skins, and then ground and sifted into fine flour.

What are the 7 grains? ›

Wholegrain flakes 7 GRAINS are an exceptional composition of 7 kinds of cereal (wheat, corn, rye, barley, rice, flaxseed, buckwheat) which compose a perfectly balanced, nutritious and delicious flakes.

What is the healthiest rice to eat? ›

Although sometimes harder to find, black rice is the number one nutritional rock star among rice varieties. 1 It's high in fiber and nutrients that lower cholesterol, promote healthy digestion, and stave off chronic disease.

Is brown rice actually healthier than white rice? ›

The bottom line

Brown rice is generally more nutritious than white rice. It's higher in fiber, magnesium, and other nutrients, and it isn't artificially enriched with nutrients like white rice is.

What is the healthiest form of grain? ›

1. Whole Oats. Oats are among the healthiest whole grains you can eat. They're not only packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber but also naturally gluten-free.

What is the most unhealthy grain food? ›

Grains to avoid are wheat (such as wheat berries, spelt, kamut, farro and bulgur), rye, barley and triticale.

Why do vets recommend grain free? ›

Why do vets not recommend grain-free dog food? Your vet may recommend against grain-free dog food because it lacks ingredients that contain critical nutrients for dogs. Heart health is big for dogs, and grains help support heart health.

What is better grain free or with grain? ›

There is no clear consensus on whether grain-free dog food is better than grain-inclusive dog food. Some pet owners and veterinarians believe that grain-free diets can be beneficial for dogs with certain health conditions, such as food allergies or sensitivities to grains.

What can I eat instead of grains? ›

While there are several different kinds of foods you can consume on a grain free diet, some of the most popular include meat, fruit, vegetables, dairy and small amounts of pseudocereals. All of these foods are entirely free of grains and gluten, making them low-allergy ingredients fit for your weekly meals.

What is the safest grain? ›

  • Amaranth grain, uncooked. ...
  • Buckwheat. ...
  • Teff, uncooked. ...
  • FARRO. ...
  • Bulgur, dry. Accessed February 6, 2023.
  • FREEKEH, ORGANIC AND FAIR, FREEKEH. Accessed February 6, 2023.
  • Rice, brown, long-grain, raw (Includes foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program). Accessed February 6, 2023.
  • Millet, raw. Accessed February 6, 2023.
Feb 6, 2023

Is oatmeal considered a whole grain? ›

Oatmeal is a whole grain that can be a delicious, warm way to add whole grains to your eating patterns during the cold winter season. Oats are full of important nutrients like vitamins B and E, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

What are the 5 super grains? ›

* All KIND Healthy Grains bars are made with the highest quality ingredients, including a foundation of five super grains –gluten free oats, millet, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat –which provide at least 18g of whole grains per bar.

What are the top 5 healthiest grains? ›

The 5 Healthiest WHOLE GRAINS you need in your diet
  • Amaranth. The oils and phytosterols in amaranth help reduce cholesterol levels. ...
  • Barley. Packed with fibre and essential minerals like selenium, copper, and manganese, Barley gives you energy as well as calms your nervous system. ...
  • Oats. ...
  • Quinoa. ...
  • Teff.
Sep 3, 2020

What breeds should not eat grain free? ›

Some breeds, especially large and giant breeds, have a predisposition to DCM. These breeds include Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, and Saint Bernards. While DCM is less common in medium and small breeds, English and American Cocker Spaniels are also predisposed to this condition.

Is quinoa considered a grain? ›

Though technically a seed, Quinoa is classified as a whole grain and is a good source of plant protein and fiber. One cup cooked provides about 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.

Are sweet potatoes good for dogs? ›

Sweet potato is a safe, healthy, and natural treat for dogs, offering a range of health benefits (and a sweet flavor they'll likely love). For example, sweet potatoes support a healthy digestive system thanks to their high dietary fiber content. They're also low in fat and contain essential vitamins like B6, C, and A.

Should I switch my dog to grain free? ›

Pet parents may want to know if they should put their dogs on a grain-free diet. You should only switch your dog's food to a grain-free diet if you have permission from your veterinarian. Above all else, your dog needs to eat pet food that does not trigger any allergies and also provides all their nutritional needs.


1. No Grain, No Pain 30 Day Challenge
(Peter Osborne)
2. Why You Should Eliminate Grain From Your Diet.
3. 7 Reasons to NEVER Eat Wheat Again (Not Just Gluten) 2023
4. Experts weigh-in on "wheat-free" diets
(CBS Mornings)
5. Why You Should Consider a Grain Free Diet
(Peter Osborne)
6. Why Do Grain-Free People Look Different?
(Dr. Davis Infinite Health)


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