Losing weight and maintaining a slim frame is usually as a result of dieting and exercising. In this guide, we’ll be talking about one of the newer dieting programs that seems to be producing great weight loss results as well as correcting or providing relief to certain dietary problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and gluten sensitivity.
This is known as the Wheat Belly Diet. Created by Dr. William Davis, a renowned preventive Cardiologist and Author, the basis of this dieting program is predicated on the fact that the consumption of wheat and grains have resulted in more people being pre-diabetic, diabetic, overweight and obese.
According to the good doctor, 80 percent of the patients he sees are either pre-diabetic or diabetic. And the worse thing is they don’t even know that they have the condition.
Dr. Davis came up with the idea of cutting out all grains –particularly processed and wheat based ones- from his diet after he realized that he had unwittingly gained 30 pounds. He started by cutting out all wheat based foods from his diet, and recommended the same to his patients.
Within 90 days of strict adherence to the dieting regimen, he and other participating patients, observed a marked reduction in their blood sugar levels –with most of them recording normal blood sugar levels, and considerable weight loss.
Naturally, he experimented with cutting out even other grains –whole grains included- from his diet and his patients.
This produced even more remarkable results that essentially reversed pre-diabetes, dropped blood sugar levels and translated into impressive, healthy weight loss. This is not surprising really seeing as carbs play a huge role in weight gain and high blood sugar levels.
Studies carried out by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), have indicated that most Americans take in 500 more calories nowadays than they did four decades ago. Most of these calories are usually in the form of processed foods and unhealthy fats.
Interestingly, other studies have also shown that the average food helping is now four times the regular size of food in the 1950’s, while the average individual is 26 pounds heavier than their contemporaries in the ‘50s.
No wonder we’re all becoming fat, obese and breaking new records with the number of individuals living with cardiovascular disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are over 600,000 deaths annually attributed to cardiovascular diseases.
Another 735,000 Americans suffer a heart attack, while another 370,000 individuals die from coronary heart disease every year. And all these conditions are often preceded by diabetes, obesity, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Of the four aforementioned factors, three of them are linked to food. This means that if Americans can change their diets for something healthier, and cut out the carbs, the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases drastically drops.
This is apparent in the correlation between the quantity of refined and processed grains consumed by the average American. For instance, surveys have shown that the average American buys thrice the amount of processed foods recommended by national health organizations. Naturally, this has resulted in a phenomenon that is now tagged “wheat belly”.
What is the Wheat Belly Diet?
The Wheat Belly Diet Program is a predominantly low carb, high protein diet. It has features and characteristics that are similar to other low carb diets like paleo diet. Its major feature is the complete and total elimination of wheat from your foods.
While many people would disagree with the need to completely eliminate the consumption of wheat and other grains from their diet, this dieting program has gone to prove its efficacy in reducing weight and lowering blood sugar drastically.
Why the Emphasis on Wheat?
After all, we’ve eaten wheat for years and years. In fact, nutritionists routinely recommend whole wheat grains as an alternative food source for people looking to change their eating habits, improve their health and eliminate certain health conditions.
Well, Dr. Davis, through conscientious research believes that what we now consider as wheat is not the “real” wheat. He believes that this is a completely different grain type which is a result of food technology and advancement over the last 5 or so decades.
According to him, eating these genetically “improved” wheat-like grains are actually dangerous to your overall health and well-being and is responsible for insanely high amounts of gluten content as well as the accompanying allergies. He outlines some of the health implications of consuming the so-called wheat that most people eat nowadays. These include:
- Tendency to overeat, increased food cravings and appetite
- High blood sugar levels necessitating frequent blood sugar spikes and drops, which in turn increase the craving for more sugar and so on. This cycle is considered as partly responsible for what is known as insulin resistance, and is very common among obese, pre-diabetic and diabetic people. It is also a risk factor for all the aforementioned conditions.
- Increases the risk of developing a condition known as metabolic syndrome; a state that predisposes the individual to cardiovascular diseases, and exacerbates their bad cholesterol levels.
- Increases the individual’s risk factor and susceptibility to disease as well as accelerated aging.
- Impacts the health of the gut negatively and causes conditions like leaky gut, frequent constipation, diarrhea, celiac disease and other digestive problems.
- Can affect the individual’s pH such that it creates an environment in the body that becomes conducive to illnesses and diseases.
- Could affect cognitive processes resulting in increased lethargy, consistent tiredness, reduced mental acuity and productivity.
- Increases the risk of developing joint and cartilage problems which often leads to other debilitating and painful health conditions such as joint pain and arthritis.
Please understand that the elimination of wheat from your meals also means no gluten. This may or may not be an issue depending on how important gluten is to your diet.
In the past nutritionists used to recommend the consumption of gluten as a means of lowering overall body inflammation –a major contributor to the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and cancers, an effective means of enhancing your body’s ability to digest food properly, and because of its immune system aiding functions.
However, as with all good things, excess intake coupled with the genetic modifications resulted in significant health related problems, which in turn affected millions of people and caused them to develop gluten intolerance and allergies.
Worse, is the fact that it has been linked to weight gain, particularly fat deposits around the waist line. This is partly why you’ll find men and women in their 30’s and older struggling with belly fat. Unfortunately, this is often mistaken as beer belly, when it is really a by-product of excessive wheat and grain consumption, as well as indicative of pre-diabetes (more potbellied men tend to be on the verge of becoming diabetic without even knowing it).
Anyway, if you are looking to get rid of excess fat particularly around the mid-section, you’ll find the Wheat Belly Diet effective for doing this. This also applies to people who are overweight or obese, and suffer from allergies to gluten.
This diet is also for those who are looking for a non-restrictive way to eat healthier. You’ll agree that most dieting programs tend to deprive us of one or more food categories that we are already used to.
For instance, many diets propose drastically cutting back on carbs and eating loads of proteins. Only problem is that you need the fullness that carbs –particularly healthy carbs- provides.
So, when people go on high protein low carb diets, they essentially start missing that fullness that only carbs provide within a few days. This is the major reason why many diets fail.
But, with the Wheat Belly Diet, you never have to worry about this at all. You’ll substitute wheat with other whole grains and fiber rich carbs that will keep you feeling full while burning off the fat in your body.
The average American is undeniably overweight and needs this diet. Doubt it? Check your body mass index (BMI). Then, come back to see how you can drastically shed some of that weight using this amazingly effective diet.
A 2010 diabetes study estimates that about 33 percent of all living Americans will be diabetic by 2050, while another 2007 report estimates that obesity will soon be “the leading preventable cause of death in the US”. The keyword there being “preventable”.
So, let’s do a quick recap: that’s basically one in three Americans becoming diabetic by 2050, and obesity killing more people than it should even when it’s preventable.
If you’re smart, you’ll do everything possible to remove yourself from the category of people who are predisposed to diabetes and obesity. Right now, about 67 percent of all Americans are considered overweight.
This means, two out of three are already on their way to becoming obese and possibly diabetic. Everyone needs this diet program. The good news is that there’s no inconvenience whatsoever per se, except for the elimination of certain calorie filled and unhealthy foods. And the rewards are huge too.
Benefits of the Wheat Belly Diet
1. Can Help Reverse Pre-Diabetes
Prediabetes is a condition that usually precedes diabetes. It’s often characterized by mild to intermediate insulin resistance, weight gain, high blood sugar and obesity. As a result, most fat or overweight individuals are often prediabetic. Unfortunately, most don’t know it.
The sad thing is that, if left for 5-10 years, these individuals’ health will worsen and progress towards diabetes. The good news is that this condition is preventable if you take the necessary steps to prevent it.
The Wheat Belly Diet addresses this clearly. According to the program, wheat based foods tend to come in processed forms. For instance, a combined study carried out by both the Harvard Medical School and the Obesity Society, determined that most wheat products come in the form of refined, processed, high sodium and sugar foods.
As a result, people who consume wheat in this form further worsen their health, even when they think they’re eating healthy. So, cutting out wheat from your diet naturally reduces your risk of consuming more of these foods. Most of the wheat available in your average grocery store, are lacking in the necessary nutrients.
They have been stripped of most nutrients during the processing phase. Even more interesting is the fact that these foods are often very high in calorie content. As much as possible, you should make an effort towards eating more low calorie foods.
Harvard Medical School has released a list of the top calorie filled foods in the US today. The less of these calorie filled foods you consume, the higher your chances of reversing or preventing prediabetes. Following the Wheat belly Diet, you are sure to get rid of these from your meals naturally and replace them with healthier, equally great tasting options that are more nutritious too.
2. Can Help You Lose Weight and Prevent Weight Gain
Obesity is often linked to the consumption of foods that have a high glycemic index (high GI). Wheat based foods are known for their medium to high glycemic index. Some examples of these include bagels, white bread, instant oatmeal, cornflakes, popcorn, rice cakes, pretzels, and short grain white rice to mention a few.
As a result, not only do they have the tendency to cause weight gain, they also contribute to your high blood sugar levels. Therefore, the key to losing some of that excess fat or keeping it off in the first place is to eat more low glycemic index (low GI) foods.
Some good examples of low GI foods include converted rice, lima beans, yam, corn, muesli, oat bran, brown rice, carrots, non-starchy veggies, sweet potato, fruits, unrefined pasta, lentils and butter peas. If you need a more complete list, the Wheat Belly Diet provides you with a list of low GI foods that will fill you up without the added risk of weight gain.
3. Helps Improve Your Eating Habits
The foods you eat and the drinks you take often play a critical role in the overall state of your health. People who eat junk foods typically feel bloated, gain weight and become sick. Show me your eating habits and I may be able to determine just how long you’ve got to live.
Poor and bad eating habits are an epidemic and one that we need to actively combat in this country. The average American eats more processed food than is good for his health. Interestingly, these are sometimes sold in the form of refined grains.
Eating these grains usually increases your blood sugar levels, as well as triggers the release of certain feel-good hormones like dopamine. This is why most people are hooked on eating them. Switching from these foods cold turkey therefore, creates cravings, which is why many diets fail.
Most diets cut out some harmful, if addictive foods without replacing them with healthier options that can provide an equally feel-good sensation. The Wheat Belly teaches you to replace these unhealthy options with healthier ones that “trick” the brain into thinking you’re still eating the same thing, causing it to flood your body with the same dopamine.
Therefore, every time you eat the healthier options, you’re essentially unlearning the bad habits and relearning the new, healthier ones. With this diet, you will be able to resist the cravings for cakes, cookies, sugary drinks and other junk foods.
4. Encourages Food Education
The average American doesn’t know what is in his or her food. They don’t know what nutrients to look for, how much salt to take, how much sugar consumption is acceptable and how many calories you need to eat every day in order to prevent weight gain. The information provided in the Wheat Belly Diet book is something we all need and require in this country.
The process of getting rid of all forms of wheat and other refined foods, naturally forces you to start paying more attention to the food labels on the shelf in the grocery store. You’ll learn all that you need to about food, study food ingredients, and use that knowledge to improve your nutrition.
Interestingly, people who adopt this diet have shown remarkable improvement in their food consumption, eat more intelligently, prefer home cooked meals –because they know what’s in the food, and tend to consume far less calories than their contemporaries who eat out in restaurants.
This naturally results in weight loss, improved health, better energy levels, lesser predisposition to health conditions that are worsened and caused by unhealthy foods and an overall sense of better well-being.
5. Aids and Improves Gastrointestinal (GI) Health
Gluten, a major component of wheat has been linked to multiple digestive disorders and diseases. From mild diarrhea and constipation to celiac disease, gluten has become a major cause of GI problems.
Many sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and celiac disease have found their health improved and stomach problems reduced after cutting out all gluten rich foods –most of which are wheat and its other variations like rye and barley.
Also, there’s an alarming rate of increase in the number of individuals who have some degree of intolerance for wheat and its related products but aren’t suffering from celiac disease.
These people routinely exhibit gluten allergies particularly after eating most of what is now referred to as modern wheat –the gluten rich, processed wheat that’s often mistaken for the original, whole grain wheat.
People like this are said to have a condition known as the non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). So, if you have been battling with frequent stomach disorders particularly after eating wheat, you might want to speak with your doctor about the possibility of cutting wheat from your diet.
After all, this beats the embarrassment of IBS as well as the discomfort of celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and other digestive conditions often triggered by the consumption of wheat. Many fans of this diet program have showed marked improvements in their GI health.
Some have experienced far fewer episodes of digestive problems after cutting out wheat from their diets. In people who suffer wheat induced constipation and diarrhea with alarming frequency, cutting out wheat and all wheat based foods has led to them becoming better and experiencing little or no episodes.
Even though there are no exact figures on the number of individuals who react adversely to gluten, it is estimated by many nutritionists and health experts, that the number is pretty significant. With such high prevalence, it is rapidly becoming a menace in the society and a borderline health epidemic.
While there’s no clear reason why people react adversely to gluten, there are scientists who think that these adverse reactions may be linked to gluten’s interference with the functions of gut microbiota.
If this is true, then this is a pretty big issue seeing as our health and wellness is often directly tied to the state of our digestive system. Not only does it serve as the passageway for your nutrition, it also plays a critical role in strengthening and reinforcing your immune system.
So, an individual with a poor/weak digestive system is basically a “sitting duck” for ailments and infections. People who are allergic to gluten tend to exhibit the following symptoms upon ingestion of any gluten based food:
- Mild to severe abdominal cramps or pain
- Frequent bloating
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Inability to metabolize certain foods and nutrient
- May suffer from crucial element deficiencies
- Significantly low energy levels
- May develop skin problems like rosacea, acne, eczema and dermatitis
- Serious inflammation of the stomach lining
6. Might Provide Relief for Some Inflammatory Conditions
When it comes to your health, inflammation is the enemy. This is because it is linked to everything from arthritis to heart disease to rapid aging. This means therefore, that if we can do something about eliminating the frequency and rate if inflammation, we just might be able to live longer, healthier, and disease free. Whenever you feel pain in your body, it’s largely because there’s some form of inflammation in that affected part of your body.
Interestingly wheat has been linked to some degree of inflammation in the body. There are many practitioners of the Wheat Belly Diet whose health situations drastically improved when they cut out wheat and its associated foods. And this is coming from people who have been on arthritis meds for as long as 15-20 years.
7. Improves Overall Sense of Well Being
To a large extent, the state of your health is often tied to what you put into your body. So, it means that if you can control what goes into your body, chances are you’ll be able to fend off ailments for prolonged periods.
Many fans of the diet have reported a significant improvement in their overall sense of well-being. Many have reported sleeping better –it’s possible that this is linked to weight loss – feeling less tired, having more energy, improving their sexual health and eliminating the typical brain fog that comes with eating junk or processed foods.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Wheat Belly Diet Program
To get the best results from this dieting program, you need to know what foods to eat and which ones to avoid. So, let’s start with the right foods to eat:
- Eat lots of non-starchy vegetables like artichoke, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, broccoli and asparagus. These are excellent vegetables, and have very low calorie content.
- Eat more fruits like oranges, water melons, apples, and berries. These are low sugar, but highly nutritious fruits that will provide you with tons of antioxidants.
- Eat more seeds, coconut milk, nuts, avocado, and use olive or coconut oil for your cooking. You might also want to add grass-fed butter and cocoa butter to your diet
- The meat and fish you consume should be grass-fed or caught directly from the river.
- Only eat cheese made from organic, raw milk
- If you want dairy products, try taking unsweetened yoghurt
- As for fermented foods, kefir, nato, miso, tempeh and tofu are great
- Grains like brown rice, buckwheat (not related to wheat), millet and quinoa are great too.
The absolute worst foods to eat include the following:
- Any grains made from or related to some oat types, wheat, rye and barley.
- No simple sugars in the forms of soda, refined sugar or any sucrose based sweetener. If you must take sweeteners, try stevia or xylitol
- Fruits that are excessively sweet and contain significant amounts pf calories. These include pineapples, bananas, mangoes and pawpaw
- Flour based desserts like doughnuts, crackers, cakes, chips, candies, granola bars and cookies
- Scotch eggs, hot dogs, fish n batter, chicken cutlets… all processed forms of protein covered by flour and fried
- White flour foods like bread, cornmeal, pizza, noodles, certain pasta, and the like
- Grains like white rice and corn which tend to pack more calories and have less nutrients compared to the alternatives mentioned in the foods to eat section
- Cereals, tacos, burritos, wheat based tortillas, burgers, deli sandwiches, and other forms of junk foods
- Refined potato and rice
These are just some of the foods that you need to get rid from your diet in order to get and stay healthy whilst losing the weight and improving your overall health.
Shopping Tips for Getting Rid of Wheat and Other Unhealthy Foods
The key to making this work is in being able to control the source from which wheat and other processed grains get into the household. The following will get you started and ensure that when next you go shopping, you won’t be buying any food items with wheat and other gluten based foods.
- Pay attention to the list of ingredients at the back of the pack and containers. Always watch out for those with barley, rye and wheat. If you’re ever in doubt, look for the certified gluten-free products in the market. These are guaranteed to have no gluten, which in turn means, there’s no wheat.
- Shop at the farmer’s market. The vendors there tend to sell only organic produce, whether it’s dairy, eggs, chicken, beef or grains.
- Most breads and baked goods tend to contain wheat in one form or the other. Therefore, unless they are clearly labeled as certified gluten-free, steer clear of them.
- However if you absolutely can’t do without bread, there are alternatives such as the sprouted grain bread. These have all the benefits of wheat without the side effects.
- For your baking, almond, chickpeas, quinoa and brown rice serve as excellent and healthier alternatives.
- Also pay attention to your sauce and soup condiments. These tend to contain wheat based ingredients. As much as possible, avoid seasonings containing sugar. Instead, use organically grown spices, herbs, real bone broth and vinegar. These are confirmed wheat free seasonings that will improve your food’s flavors.
- Just because you’re on the Wheat Belly Diet doesn’t mean you can’t drink. You just have to avoid the regular beers as those tend to contain barley or rye, which are wheat products. Instead, enjoy your alcohol in the form of whisky, wines, scotch, rum, cognac and brandy.
For those who think the requirements are just too much, the good news is that the Wheat Belly Diet is comparable to your regular low carb diet. So, if you have been on any form of low carb diet, this shouldn’t be difficult at all.
You can still enjoy delicious meals in the form of grilled fish, chicken soups, omelettes, stir-fries and many other delicious meals. To show you that this is easy, here are few meal ideas to start working with:
- Start the day with veggie smoothies, protein shakes or eggs
- For lunch, eat a protein based meal –lean chicken- with healthy fats and lots of veggie salads
- For your dinner/supper, enjoy some grilled fish, grass-fed beef, fruits and vegetables.
- If you need to snack on anything, try meal replacement options like smoothies, protein shakes, nuts, or boiled eggs.