Is flour bad for you? This is not a simple answer.
It is true that many foods made with flour are not healthy, but that is not entirely to blame on the flour itself. And it is not necessarily the number of carbohydrates those foods have that make them unhealthy either.
If you are familiar with the 8-week program outlined in our Clean Cuisine book you know carbs are not a dirty word in my book. However, I do try to eat foods in their most natural and unrefined form.
When it comes to flour, most of which is derived from whole grains (some flours such as almond flour come from nuts), it is better to eat the whole grains themselves in their unrefined “whole” state as opposed to whole grains that have been refined into flour.
Sure, whole grain flour is a far superior choice compared to the highly refined “enriched” flour most processed foods are made from, but all flour is going to be metabolized by your body differently than the unprocessed whole grain.
Some bad qualities of flour.
When a whole grain is finely ground into flour it is absorbed into your bloodstream fairly quickly, which can spike blood sugar levels and increase your body’s insulin response.
If you are overweight this is a particularly bad scenario because insulin is your body’s primary fat-storing hormone and a rapid rise in blood sugar is always followed by a rapid fall in blood sugar along with excess hunger.
However, even if you are rail thin, it is still not desirable to have blood sugar spikes and insulin surges because both interfere with optimizing your energy levels, cognitive function, mood and your overall sense of well-being.
The other problem with flour has less to do with insulin and blood sugar and more to do with flour’s ubiquity. Flour is everywhere! And the vast majority of it comes from wheat.
If you are eating a lot of flour chances are you are getting an excessive amount of wheat and shortchanging yourself on other nutrient-dense foods such as beans, nuts, vegetables, fruit, etc.
Why I blame flour for the success of low-carb diets.
In fact, flour is one of the main reasons I blame low-carb diets for gaining in popularity. Once people stop eating all of those processed flour-containing foods mentioned above and swap them for “whole” foods (vegetables, beans, etc.) they lose weight—it’s not necessarily because they cut out carbs, they just got rid of the unhealthiest and most processed carbs!
So, is flour bad for you or not?
The answer is, as long as you are eating whole grain gluten-free flour and you are not eating an excessive amount, then adding some flour can be a perfectly fine food as part of an otherwise nutrient-dense “Clean Cuisine” diet.
Any flour that does not have the word “whole” in front of it is not healthy.