Diet 101: Wheat Belly Diet

by in Diets & Weight Loss, October 26, 2012

Here’’s a look at the newest diet being promoted on the “popular diet book” table in book stores around the country. But is eliminating any and all wheat the healthiest way to lose weight?

If you’re walking around with a gut—it’s no longer called a “beer belly” but rather  a “wheat belly”—or so says William Davis, MD, the creator of this diet. He claims that whole-wheat grain has become unhealthy due to over-breeding and modification over time. In addition, wheat and processed foods made with wheat are like opiate drugs and eating bread is just like taking crack. The theory is that wheat promotes high blood sugar which though a series of reactions, causes the body to accumulate more visceral fat.

The Plan
Wheat isn’t the only bad boy in this diet. Many other foods are either eliminated or eaten in limited quantities such as fruit, starchy veggies, whole grains, legumes, dried fruit, corn starch and corn meal. Three meals a day are encouraged without any snacks.
So what can you eat? Here’s the basic list:

In unlimited quantities:

  • Veggies (except potatoes and corn)
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Oils
  • Meats and eggs
  • Cheese
  • Non-sugary condiments (like mustard and salsa)
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Avocados, olives, coconut
  • Spices
  • Unsweetened cocoa

In limited quantities:

  • Dairy (except cheese)
  • Fruit
  • Whole corn (like on the cob)
  • Fruit juice
  • Non-wheat, non-gluten grains (like quinoa, amaranth, and rice)
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Soy products (fermented soy products preferred)

Unlike other diet plans, there is basically one phase: toss out all your wheat foods and go cold turkey. Once you go wheat free, the author claims that the pounds will come right off and you’ll immediately feel better. Fasting, defined as drinking water only, is highly recommended for several days or even weeks at a time.

The Costs
The website (with its grotesque weight loss transformation of bikini-clad women) is free and has a recipe library, success stories, blog, and links to the Wheat Belly book, which sells for about $26.00. Other costs associated with the diet include the money lost when you toss all your wheat products and the notion of completely eliminating any sweets or processed goods FOREVER. There is no going back or reintroducing these banned foods into your diet.

The Good

  • Whole foods are recommended on this plan including nuts and vegetables.
  • No calorie counting necessary.
  • Frying and fried foods are discouraged.
  • The notion that processed foods like cookies, cakes, and other such processed foods are overly consumed and contribute many unnecessary calories in our diet.

The Not-So-Good

  • Many statements made by the author can be refuted or are controversial as seen in this in-depth analysis written by Dr. Julie Jones.
  • Many healthy foods are eliminated or significantly decreased including whole grains, fruits, and legumes (beans, peas and lentils). Many nutrients and variety is also limited or eliminated from the diet.
  • It is virtually impossible to follow this plan while traveling or dining out.
  • Going cold turkey isn’t an effective way to teach someone good habits. Many folks will stop this diet just as quickly as they started it.
  • Fasting for prolonged periods of time is unhealthy and unsafe.

The Bottom Line:
Although the creator of this plan is very motivating and convincing, this diet is just plain unrealistic and unhealthy. Every food (even wheat) can have a place in your healthy eating plan.

TELL US: Have you tried the Wheat Belly Diet?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian , consultant and owner of Toby Amidor Nutrition, Inc., who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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  3. Denise Miller says:

    I just started. This is day three. The recipes are easy. I'm surprised they taste as good as wheat if not better. That'll make it easier to stick with as a lifestyle. I just buy the nuts whole and grind them in a coffee grinder in seconds. It's really no more difficult to make the scones, bread and biscuits than it is to make biscuits from wheat flour. I made my husband the pancakes and served them with eggs and he was impressed. He said he used to love his mom's date scones. I made some. They aren't the same but he likes them. He was not too keen on giving up on wheat but now it's a go as long as I bake. It maybe adds 5 minutes on for the grinding but five minutes is worth spending on my health. The first thing I've noticed is my breathing is more clear. As for eating in restaurants, it's easy. Steak and Greek Salad, Almond or Cashew Guy Ding, Thai Curry's. I'm just thinking of some of the things I order. Not a problem.

  4. chrisb says:

    I'm guessing perhaps a pro wheat belly diet "person" posted the original article…? It's hard to imagine there is not ONE comment questioning at least one or two aspects of Dr. Davis' program.

  5. chrisb says:

    All the comments were also posted exactly 31 weeks ago. Also kind of suspicious. I'm happy for these people, but this whole article asking for people to discuss their feelings about the wheat belly diet just seems to have been a setup.

  6. SandyM says:

    Tried this diet for three weeks while travelling on business. I found there are limited options in most eating establishments. I had problems with gas( too many chicken and shrimp Ceasar salids?) and bad constipation. I acually gained about one pound. I think this was probably from using nuts(one of the few options easily available) to counteract the hypoglycemia I was suffering between meals. Results were disapointing as the diet was expensive and difficult to follow, I never felt great and did not lose pounds. Later I happened to hear an interview of a senior researcher from the Harvard School of Medicine talking about glucose metabolism and especially its role in the brain and I did not agree at all with what Davis said. I went to a dietician who put me on a diet which includes whole grains but no added sugar or refined grain products. Lossing half to one pound a week, feel great no gas or constipation and have checked my blood sugar regulaly after meal with a freinds device. No problems. Davis should be truly ashamed of the poorly reseached book he put out. I did a search and he har no data, no published studies in peer reviewed publications. I am angry at myself for ever having been taken in by this guy. I wou't say what I now think he is!!

  7. mdlady says:

    How does it work for someone who does not cook? Someone who eats out a lot, has a lot of sandwiches at home… Is this no-wheat diet even possible for someone like that? No wheat allergies involved here – just interested in some weight loss.

  8. Gottagut says:

    I think Wheat Belly should be called… Wheat, rye, barley, potato, sugar, dairy, juice Belly! A bit deceiving, don't you think?

  9. cboo says:

    I stopped eating wheat about a month ago. The scale is creeping down. It is better than creeping up. About 4 pounds lost. I have completely lost the cravings for binges. I have been a binger since I was a child. My binges have been out of control for years. I now feel in control of what I eat. I forget to eat and sometimes eat only when feeling fatigued. Then I know I have gone too long. The hunger is under control from no wheat. I do eat grains. I eat small portions of beans and rice. I measure them so I don't overeat. I measure all my food and find I can eat a great deal less. When at home I also set a timer and do not take a bite until after 30 seconds have passed from previous bite. This gets me in touch with being full. For me this is easier than counting calories. I do exerciset. Not excessively. I eat 85% dark chocolate to kill my sweet tooth..This is the only system of eating I have tried in years that is working for me. I will stick with it.

  10. Ann says:

    What can you eat when your blood sugar drops, fruit makes me worse?

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