The Adverse Effects of Wheat In Your Belly

Have you heard about the latest diet craze? Or rather, as touted by the author, lifestyle change?

One of the more recent ‘diet’ plans has caused quite a hullabaloo in the health community. Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist in Milwaukee, has recently published a book titled Wheat Belly. “Lose the wheat, lose the weight, and find your path back to health,” Dr. Davis’ mantra, is boldly emblazoned on the cover.

wheat belly  Dr. Davis’ claims include that wheat is highly addictive due to genetic modifications, is making Americans fat, and should be entirely eliminated from our diets. But after reading several reviews about the book by health professionals, hearing a few interviews and checking out Dr. Davis’ blog, some light has been shed on the content.

Dr. Davis likes anecdotes, testimonials and stories rather than peer-reviewed studies and facts. For instance, on the blog, he tells a story (testimonial) of a man that has attempted to cut wheat from his diet. The man lost almost 30 pounds by avoiding wheat; he mentions he still eats it, but only a little, and not very often. But then he says his diet change included, “eliminating most beverages other than water, wheat products and most starches.” Depending on how much wheat he was eating, especially as refined and processed grains with little fiber or nutritional value, or drinking, e.g. soda, beer, whole milk, etc., he could easily eliminate these and lose weight. There are too many variables here to say wheat was the actual culprit, since he took out other unhealthy variables.

Wheat bread is vilified because of the high glycemic index (GI). This is true. Wheat bread does have a high glycemic index. The difference is the amount of bread eaten to get to that ‘high.’ More wheat bread (versus white bread) must be eaten to reach the peak of a blood sugar spike, which is caused by foods with high GI numbers. But wheat bread does have a hidden ally: fiber. For example, white breads can cause peaking and plummeting energy levels, whereas fiber-rich foods cause a gentle rise and decline. Read the ingredients list of your foods before deciding to consume, and make sure real, whole grains and fiber are part of the product.

The book prescribes cutting wheat out of your diet to lose weight. Well, sure. If you’re eating wheat bagels, danishes, white bread, French fries and cookies every day, remove all of these from your diet, then viola; you lose weight! But the real issue in that example, however overstated, is that the type of wheat you are consuming in those items has minimal nutritional value and little to no fiber. If you removed these over-processed ‘wheat’ products, replaced them with whole foods like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, veggies or live sprouted whole grain, fiber-rich bread and tapered down sugar consumption, you would feel full faster and better, in general.

When all has been discussed and sorted, there are two pieces of evidence that make the argument. One is a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that tracked lifestyles of 98,320 women and 22,557 men over the course of 12 to 20 years, depending on the person. Throughout this study, weight gain was linked to the consumption of potato chips, sugar- sweetened beverages, refined grains/sweets and desserts, unprocessed red meats and processed meats. But weight gain was negatively associated with the amounts of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt.

The second piece of evidence that makes the argument is from a former professor, Dr. Amy Jo Riggs Ph.D., R.D., an associate professor of Nutrition and Food Science at Georgia Southern University. After reading a blurb on the wheat belly debacle, she responded via email, “real” wheat is not the culprit but a vast majority of our “grains” don’t use true whole wheat due to the processing of our foods. I believe that eating sprouted wheat is the way to go and reading the ingredients of the carbohydrate (i.e. wheat) type foods. If there is a long list of ingredients, then it is something we shouldn’t eat a ton of on a regular basis. It is not actually wheat that is making Americans obese; it is all the other crap that has been added to it.”

Therefore, Dr. Davis isn’t wrong on all points. Incorporating whole grain/wheat foods into a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and lean meats is more beneficial than eliminating a food group altogether. Create an eating plan that can be a life plan; if you don’t enjoy eating the food to which you’ve committed, you won’t stick to the plan for good.

If you are looking for a FBP (Fitness By Patty) approved bread option, try Ezekiel Bread. One of my regular clients went through a period of consuming no wheat, after she learned about the book. Read on about her experience…


“My Perspective on Wheat Belly”  – Barb Krier

After reading Wheat Belly, I decided I would give it a try. Although it is referred to as a “diet”, I personally think of it as a way of eating. I don’t diet! So, armed with my new information at hand, I began a three-month process of no wheat.

For me, the hardest part was giving up pasta and pizza. But there are alternatives and I soon learned to adapt. For instance, instead of pasta and sauce, I made spaghetti squash and sauce. I actually found I liked it better than traditional pasta noodles! After a few short weeks, the cravings went away. I read labels more carefully and paid more attention to what went into my mouth. I was surprised at how many food products contain wheat, for example, even soy sauce!

After 3 months, I felt better and healthier. I was able to think more clearly. That little roll around my mid section finally disappeared (and that was the hardest spot to lose). Although, I thought I ate pretty healthy and still worked out consistently, it just would never go away until I eliminated wheat. Cutting that out, in addition to Patty’s healthy eating suggestions, plus training regimen, I soon learned what it meant to really eat “clean”. My body felt great while I was eating that way, I had more mental clarity and my energy actually seemed better, too.

Although I have since eaten wheat again, I certainly have cut way back. Being more knowledgeable of the food I consume and the impact it has on my organs and the way food makes me feel after I eat something, is the best benefit of all.



Fitness By Patty does not endorse any one particular “diet”. This post was intended to enlighten you on the adverse affects of eating processed foods, refined flours, additional filler ingredients, etc. Clean eating, with organic locally grown seasonal produce, grass fed meats, cage free eggs, moderation, portion control, etc., and variety are key to a healthy, balanced diet. There are thousands of diets out there which you can pick and choose what works best for your body type, blood type, lifestyle, activity level, and specifically tested dietary needs/restrictions. But if you aren’t under the influence of a health care professional, you may still be hopping from diet to diet.

In the end, it still just boils down to consuming a balance of whole foods. Organic as much as possible, locally grown, seasonal produce, grass-fed meats, cage-free vegetarian fed eggs, nuts (if you aren’t allergic), seeds, legumes, beans, high quality oils (first cold pressed), quality organic dairy (unless you are lactose intolerant), and whole grains (considering you don’t have Celiac Disease and need to go gluten-free). The number one beverage of choice, of course is water!

Diet is such a touchy subject for everyone, but the FBP way is to teach you how to choose what’s right for your body, within the spectrum of ultimately heathy choices. If you are looking for what is right for you, and before going any further, look into getting a nutrition allergy test, consult with a Registered Dietician, and be sure to check out the extra help through the FBP Nutrition section, or contact Patty for custom Nutritional Guidance.