Grain-free vs. gluten-free: What's the difference?

Since day one, FitJoy has always been gluten-free. But now we’ve gone a step further, becoming completely grain-free as a company. This means we've tweaked our existing bars to be grainless and are creating innovative grain-free products to follow suit. But what exactly is the grain-free difference? What does it mean, how is it different from going gluten-free, and does it matter? Great questions. We’re glad you asked!

Ditch the Grain

First off, what is gluten-free?

We’ve covered what it means to be gluten-free in detail in a previous post, but here’s a quick recap.

Gluten is a combination of storage proteins found in wheat, oats, rye, barley, and some other species of grains. It’s what helps foods like bread and pasta keep their shape! Replace it or avoid it in your recipe, and you’ve got a gluten-free dish or product. But why would you want that? 

Mainly because an estimated 3 million Americans with the autoimmune disorder celiac disease must avoid eating gluten in order to prevent damage to their small intestine. (1) Still others might have gluten sensitivity, meaning they experience milder forms of inflammation, stomach issues, or other symptoms when they consume gluten. As a result, gluten-free has become a standard across so many food products these days.

When the gluten-free craze first started, it became somewhat of a weight loss fad. But the main reason people were losing weight was that there weren't substitutes for the pastas and breads people had been consuming. People avoided wheat altogether. 

gluten pasta bowl

But now, there are so many gluten-free replacement foods—crackers and muffins galore—that are instead chock full of rice flour and sugar, which are high glycemic and spike your blood sugar levels. So just because you're gluten-free, that doesn't make it a foregone conclusion that you'll lose weight.

Ok, now what’s grain-free?

Grains are the seeds of grasses. They include wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn, rice, etc. Sound harmless? Perhaps not. Most grains used in processed foods today are refined, meaning they have been stripped of their bran and germ, causing them to lose almost all of their vitamins and nutrients. So the average consumer might know that grains contain plenty of iron, but what they don’t know is that almost 80% of that iron is stripped by the time it makes it into their snack. (2) (3) 

What’s left, you wonder? A much less nutritious substance that digests way too easily in your body, causing major spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Those spikes can cause fat storage and can leave you feeling hungry soon after you eat, causing you to eat more, both of which can lead to weight gain.

What's more, based on many people’s experiences and early research, leading a grain-free lifestyle seems to have the potential to drastically help with (or even prevent, some believe!) autoimmune diseases.

bowl of cereal grains

Grain-free foods therefore go a huge leap further than gluten-free. Instead of omitting gluten or wheat, they completely cut out grains in the first place. Grain-free products opt for ingredients like almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour, cassava flour, etc. Those ingredients tend to be low glycemic and gut friendly. 

And guess what! There’s no nutrient found in grains that can’t be found in other foods.

So there you have it...

Grain-free not only gets rid of grains that may be inflammatory and fattening, it also hits other benefits people want to see in their health products, such as gluten-free and corn-free. A grain-free lifestyle offers relief (possibly even extended relief) for those with celiac, and many believe it can help and even prevent a host of other autoimmune disorders.

In light of this, we’ve removed ingredients like dextrose, corn-based isomalto-oligosaccharides, grain maltodextrin, and rice flour from all of our bars. Our grain-free pretzels (coming soon!) will make a convenient salty snack for those who are grain-free and tired of having to having to concoct their own alternative foods out of fringe ingredients in their kitchens. 

We’re excited to be able to offer fun options to those who are avoiding grain—for health reasons, weight loss diets, or just because they feel better or lighter when they eat less of it. You can shop our grain free bars here and be on the lookout for our pretzels when they launch.

 grain free fitjoy protein bars

Sources: 

(1) (2) (3

All nutritional information has been reviewed by FitJoy's food scientist. 


The FitJoy Team

Our team likes to stay in the know and ahead of the game when it comes to eating, exercise, and wellness in general! We take the latest buzz in the nutrition world and make it easily translatable for your own life.


related articles

    How to Keep a Reliable Health Journal

    If keeping a journal has ever been recommended to you as a way to deal with stress and anxiety, but you’ve written off the idea (see what we did there?), then using a food journal to keep track of how certai...

    The Top 8 Health Benefits of Juicing

    For some of us, juicing is resorted to only after the holidays when we’re in need of a detoxifying cleanse, but for others, juicing is a way to get all of the body’s needed nutrients on a daily basis. No mat...

    7 Sneaky Signs You Might Need to Go Gluten-Free

    Gluten can be tricky—some people are totally fine eating it and others get major GI discomfort, like inflammation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and more. And gluten is in a ton of foods, from salad dressings and ...