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Wheat Belly, by preventive cardiologist William Davis, MD, explains how eliminating wheat from our diets is the key to achieving permanent weight loss and relief from a wide range of health issues including digestive disorders and immune problems.
Davis says that excess fat is not related to inactivity or high-fat diets, but instead is due to our love of foods like bread, pasta, muffins and cakes.
In this book, he offers dieters a step-by-step plan to creating a wheat-free diet lifestyle so as to achieve dramatic weight loss and optimal health.
Wheat Belly Basics
William Davis explains that there are many dangers associated with a diet containing wheat.
He states that wheat has a unique composition of complex carbohydrates – 75% amylopectin and 25% amylose – that has an especially negative effect on the regulation of blood sugar.
While all carbohydrate foods have an influence on our blood sugar levels, our response to wheat is more severe due to its composition.
He also says that when we eat wheat it not only triggers an insulin response that promotes the storage of fat – especially belly fat – but due to the presence of compounds called endorphins, it also increases your appetite so that you eat more calories.
Wheat also contains a protein called gluten that causes celiac disease, a condition that Dr. Davis describes in detail, as it is the most commonly diagnosed wheat allergy.
However, gluten has also been implicated in many other disorders including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, arthritis, neurological conditions, Candidiasis and gastrointestinal cancer.
6 Possible Benefits to Following the Wheat Belly Diet
- Weight loss of up to fifty pounds within the first few months.
- Alleviation of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
- Recovery from ulcerative colitis and celiac disease.
- Improvement in blood cholesterol levels.
- Reduced inflammation and pain in rheumatoid arthritis.
- Alleviation of hair loss and psoriasis.
Most dieters experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they first eliminate wheat from the diet but you can soften the blow by gradually tapering off your wheat intake over a week.
Wheat Alternatives Not Recommended
Wheat Belly advises dieters that many of the wheat-free foods available on the market are not truly healthy foods because they contain ingredients like cornstarch that will make you fat and diabetic.
Because Davis believes that a low carbohydrate diet is healthier for us he advises limiting gluten-free grains like…
He says they are best restricted to ½ cup servings and only consumed once used the wheat withdrawal process is over and ideal weight has been achieved. This holds true for legumes as well.
Good Wheat Flour Alternatives
The recipes in Wheat Belly replace wheat flour with ingredients like coconut flour, ground flaxseed, and nut meals because these are nutritious foods that don’t produce abnormal responses similar to those of wheat.
Even fruit is limited on this program because it is high in sugar but small servings are permitted such as two strawberries, ten blueberries or a few wedges of apple.
Chicken, turkey, beef, buffalo, ostrich, salmon, eggs, cheese, spinach, tomato, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, oranges, avocado, raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, coconut flour, Shirataki noodles, olive oil, coconut oil, mustard, herbs, spices, tea, coffee, red wine.
Sample Wheat Free Diet Meal Plan
Pumpkin muffins with cream cheese
Handful of raw almonds, pecans or pistachios
Turkey avocado flaxseed wrap
Berry coconut smoothie
Chocolate peanut-butter fudge
Costs and Expenses
Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health retails at $15.
- Provides unique information about the potentially negative health effects of wheat.
- Encourages the consumption of vegetables, raw nuts, and seeds.
- May assist with the alleviation of a wide variety of chronic health conditions.
- Includes a seven-day meal plan with wheat free recipes.
- Most dieters experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they first eliminate wheat from the diet.
- Limits the consumption of many healthy foods including fruit, legumes, and gluten-free grains.
- Encourages the consumption of artificial sweeteners.
- The Wheat Belly Meal plan is relatively high in fat.
3 Key Things You Need to Know
1. Where I agree with Dr. Davis
gluten free junk food
If you are eating gluten-free, you need to avoid the processed gluten free products. Avoid the white rice crackers and snack foods as they are full of processed white rice flour. Avoid the wheat free cookies and cakes because they are still sweets!
Instead, make sure to choose these healthy food options: quinoa, brown rice, more fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, vegetable starches, beans, peas, other legumes, brown rice breads and flours, and gluten free oats.
2. Why Davis and other experts believe wheat is unhealthy
- One example I have for you is that we feed wheat to animals to fatten them up. Why would we want to fatten up?
- The modern day wheat crop is less nutritious than it used to be. This is true with most big business food systems across the world.
- Most argue that this modern wheat crop does not digest well in our intestinal tract. This is not proven, simply a theory.
3. How people lose weight by avoiding wheat?
We find gluten and wheat in almost all mainstream food products out there. Any bread you get at a restaurant, most all cereals, and even condiments contain gluten.
By sticking to a wheat-free diet, you have to avoid a lot of tempting restaurant foods and desserts like donuts and pizza. You are almost forced to do more home cooking, and be more mindful of your eating. You have to check food labels. All of these actions result in weight loss, and it may just be from making better food choices overall.
FYI: 0.2-0.8% of people are estimated to have Celiac’s disease (a condition that means your body does not tolerate gluten).
Dr. Davis lectures about his diet
For the most part, the Wheat Belly diet is a sound plan, but you don’t need to follow it 100%. Just make sure to eat a healthier diet full of your fruits and vegetables, and you should do well.
I Still Eat Wheat and Gluten
However, I do not eat a lot of wheat. Instead, I choose more brown rice, sweet potatoes, rye crackers (they contain gluten), sprouted grains (which have a higher vitamin and mineral content), and quinoa. I generally don’t eat grocery store bread unless it is a sprouted grain bread or was baked recently at the bakery.
If you are going to eat wheat frequently, I recommend choosing a sprouted wheat or an ancient grain wheat (this means it is from a more nutritious wheat crop).
Dr. Davis currently has two Wheat Belly books available.
Wheat Belly which is available on Amazon here.
The Wheat Belly Cookbook which is available on Amazon here.
This article was also co-written by By Nicole German (RD, LD)
By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
- Dewar, D. H., Donnelly, S. C., McLaughlin, S. D., Johnson, M. W., Ellis, H. J., Ciclitira, P. J. (2012). Celiac disease: management of persistent symptoms in patients on a gluten-free diet. World journal of gastroenterology: WJG, 18(12), 1348. link
- Vazquez–Roque, M. I., Camilleri, M., Smyrk, T., Murray, J. A., Marietta, E., ONeill, J., ... Zinsmeister, A. R. (2013). A controlled trial of gluten-free diet in patients with irritable bowel syndrome-diarrhea: effects on bowel frequency and intestinal function. Gastroenterology, 144(5), 903-911. link
- Soares, F. L. P., de Oliveira Matoso, R., Teixeira, L. G., Menezes, Z., Pereira, S. S., Alves, A. C., ... Alvarez-Leite, J. I. Gluten-free diet reduces adiposity, inflammation and insulin resistance associated with the induction of PPAR-alpha and PPAR-gamma expression. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 24(6), 1105-1111. link
Last Reviewed: January 18, 2018