Wheat Belly: Don’t Believe Everything You Read

wheat bellyWheat 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.

Insulin Response

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.

Fat Storage

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.

Gluten

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…

  • oats
  • quinoa
  • millet
  • amaranth

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.

alternatives to wheat flour

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.

Recommended Foods

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

Breakfast

Pumpkin muffins with cream cheese
Coffee or tea

Morning Snack

Handful of raw almonds, pecans or pistachios

Lunch

Turkey avocado flaxseed wrap

Afternoon Snack

Berry coconut smoothie

Dinner

Wheat-free pizza
Mixed green salad
1 glass red wine

Dessert

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.

Buy this book from Amazon.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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

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).

The Books

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)
    References
  • 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., O'Neill, 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. (2013). 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

17 Comments or Reviews

Comments now closed
  1. Jessica 4 months ago

    Grain Brains and Wheat Bellies

    The focus on gluten avoidance in the United States was fomented by two popular but controversial diet books, which urge everyone to cut out wheat. Cardiologist William Davis, M.D., argues in his best-selling 2011 book, Wheat Belly, that all wheat is bad for you, whether it is whole grain or refined. Davis claims that modern wheat is nothing like the grains we evolved to eat, and that today’s wheat is both addictive and toxic because of its gluten as well as other compounds. He asserts that cutting this “frankenwheat” out of your diet can shrink your belly and fight a wide range of health problems, from diabetes to schizophrenia. In 2012, Davis appeared on The Dr. Oz Show to spread the grain-free gospel far and wide.
    Many experts have pointed out in the popular press, health media, and other outlets that Davis’s claims do not have sound scientific backing. Davis has been criticized for cherry-picking data and referencing studies that are small or methodologically flawed. For example, in referencing a 2011 review of the literature by the well- regarded celiac expert Alessio Fasano of the University of Maryland, Davis asserted that undigested gliadin a protein component of gluten) can make the intestines leak and trigger autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and type 1 diabetes. But he fails to mention three crucial caveats. First, Fasano’s review discusses the involvement of gliadin only in celiac disease and type 1 diabetes, which often co-occur. Second, gliadin has been shown to damage the intestines only of people who are genetically predisposed to these diseases-and fewer than 10% of such people actually develop the autoimmune conditions. Third, Fasano concluded that “loss of intestinal barrier function is necessary but not sufficient for the onset of the autoimmune process.” Fasano and other celiac experts, such as Daniel Leffler of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, have rejected Davis’s idea that modern wheat is toxic for every one. As Leffler told NPR in 2013, “There’s good evidence that the vast majority of people actually do just fine with wheat.”
    A second influential book, Grain Brain (2013) by David Perlmutter, a neurologist at the University of Miami, argues that all grains-not just refined carbohydrates but also supposedly healthy whole grains-can cause disorders like dementia, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, depression, chronic headaches, and other health problems. Like Davis, Perlmutter was given a huge audience and, some say, an implicit endorsement by Dr. Oz -dubbed “the most trusted doctor in America” by The New Yorker and “America’s doctor” by Oprah Winfrey but chastised by U.S. senators and other scientists for dispensing dubious advice. A 2014 study of Dr. Oz’s show by a large group of physicians concluded that “approximately half of the recommendations have either no evidence or are contradicted by the best-available evidence.” Those recommendations are hugely influential nonetheless.
    Moreover, the negative press for gluten and grains has been reinforced by numerous celebrities who have touted the gluten-free diet as a way to lose weight and feel better. Gwyneth Paltrow, who recently published a gluten-free cookbook, has said going gluten-free makes her feel lighter, more relaxed, and less angry. Singer/songwriter Miley Cyrus wrote to her millions of followers on Twitter in April 2012, “Everyone should try no gluten for a week! The change in your skin, physical and mental health is amazing!”.
    Thanks in part to celebrity endorsements, the fad has reached beyond the United States to Europe, where celiac disease has been recognized for longer and where a trend for eating gluten-free theoretically should have come and gone much earlier. In fact, the growth in the market for gluten-free products in Europe is the second fastest in the world, just behind the United States. The market in Australia is also highly lucrative, and a similar percentage of Australians as Americans report they are avoiding gluten. This growth has been driven in part by the manufacturers themselves, who are positioning gluten-free foods as healthy choices for everyone rather than as specialized medical products (There are some exceptions, of course-mainly Italy, where gluten-free foods are widely available but generally viewed as being only for celiac patients.)
    The science, however, does not support adoption of a gluten-free diet for the general population. As of this writing, no controlled studies demonstrate that gluten-free diets can lead to weight loss in people who do not have celiac disease or nonceliac gluten sensitivity. In contrast, some studies indicate that among people who have celiac disease, a significant percentage of overweight or obese dieters are likely to gain weight when they go gluten-free (probably because their
    intestinal lining heals and better absorbs nutrients). Moreover, some researchers have hypothesized that indigestible starches in wheat, such as oligofructose and inulin, may actually provide some health benefits by promoting healthy gastrointestinal microbiota. But evidence for this idea is still thin and preliminary.
    Popular diet books notwithstanding, science offers no reason to eliminate gluten from your diet unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or a wheat allergy.

    Decide for Yourself
    The sagas of fibers, fats, salts, carbohydrates whole grains, added sugars, and gluten teach us that it is very difficult to get the truth about the health implications of dietary choices. Three main factors cloud the issues. First, it takes a long time and a lot of money to rigorously test the benefits of a dietary system. Second, industrial food companies and advocates can make a very good living promoting claims, substantiated or not, about dietary systems. Third, even when ideas are proved to be false, they tend to linger as part of the conventional wisdom or popular viewpoint. Advocates want to keep selling diet books, nutrition experts hate to admit that they are wrong, doctors and health organizations want to maintain an aura of authority, and food companies want to keep selling products for which they can claim health benefits.
    Today, we know that butter seems to be okay, but trans-fat-laden margarine could kill you just the opposite of the conventional wisdom a generation ago. As medical science gains more under standing of the underlying causes of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and other common diseases, we may learn that there are some other real villains in what we eat. But it is also possible that we will find that some of these diseases are, by and large, unrelated to diet.
    Eventually, science will figure all this out, but, until it does, the safest thing to say is that proof requires large, randomized clinical trials that take many years. Until the results of those are in, one can entertain lots of opinions but reach no genuine scientific closure on the issues.
    Of course, science isn’t the only measure by which people make dietary decisions. These matters involve cultural and religious traditions and one’s palate, as well as health considerations. People often get emotional when discussing food preferences; they may see themselves as protectors of the health of their families or patrons, or they may have a deep attachment to a certain way of eating.
    Bakers and consumers must base their judgments on their personal experiences as well as the available facts-which we hope you are now better able to distinguish from hyperbole. If you’re a professional baker, you’re likely to encounter people who adhere to many of the dietary systems we’ve mentioned. Some of these people may genuinely need gluten-free bread because they have celiac disease. Others who think whole grains are better, for example, may accuse you of killing people by using refined grains in your baking. Based on the best-available science, you can accurately say that there is no clear evidence linking any beneficial health effects to whole grain consumption, low-carbohydrate diets, raw foods, no-sugar-added diets, or for the general public gluten-free diets. People who have celiac disease should strictly avoid gluten-but perhaps in the coming years, enzyme therapies or other medications will be able to mitigate the damage gluten causes in those with the disease. People who merely suspect they have a gluten intolerance may, in fact, be reacting to something else in their food-possibly FODMAPs- but the science is still emerging.
    If you believe you have a food intolerance, now you know how to get tested, which tests are scientifically sound, and why self-diagnosis is so tricky. You can also decide that you’re just happier avoiding whatever food makes you uncomfortable-and that’s a perfectly valid choice. Personal preference is a legitimate reason for choosing to eat a certain way. We simply argue that if you are going to use health as your justification, you owe it to yourself to be aware of the best-available science. That means relying primarily on results from large randomized trials-not on media articles or popular diet books, which may simply report attention grabbing findings from low quality studies.
    The uncertainty of much of that science underscores the importance of a diversified diet, which is unlikely to cause overconsumption of any truly harmful substances (like trans fat). Here’s another good reason to avoid following nutrition trends: you will likely save money by not buying the latest “it” foods, which often come with a hefty price tag.
    As food enthusiasts and practitioners of Modernist cuisine, we hope you feel more confident in making choices about the food you eat and serve while not begrudging yourself the pleasure of new food experiences.

  2. Carl Manning 4 months ago

    While it’s true you shouldn’t believe everything you read. This is a book you can totally believe. I know, I’ve experienced the great weight loss results from following Dr. Davis’s advise in his book here. After following this way of eating , after 2 years lost 80 lbs. and 10 inches off my waist. It didn’t stop with just the weight loss either. Also got rid of my migraine headaches, stiff back and joints, and also hemorrhoids. Plus greatly improved strength and energy levels. People who knock this diet don’t have a clue what their talking about!!!

  3. Luc 6 months ago

    Why on EARTH is the high fat prat considered a con? This is exactly what is wrong with society. We’re MEANT to eat fat, veggies and protein. NOT factory produced carbs aka sugar like BREAD.

  4. Hadel Toma 7 months ago

    Everyone please watch earthlings documentary free on youtube, No cow pig or chicken wants to be murdered for wheat belly diet or any other excuse.

  5. Jess

    Have you tried this “trendy” diet for yourself? Every. single. person. I know who has committed to it for various health reasons (UNRELATED to weight), have seen major, life-changing success and change. No more medications. No more Type II Diabetes. No more inflammation, arthritis, anxiety, depression….. to name a small handful of conditions and issues. This is the ONLY thing I have had success with after bouncing around to different nutritionists for years, being vegan, raw, vegetarian, practicing ‘everything in moderation’.. I have tried it all. This is the only thing that gives me energy, has healed my gut (which is really what WB is all about), and has reversed my diabetes. This way of eating changes lives — it SAVES lives. I’ve seen it many times, I’ve seen it for myself.

    • Hadel Toma 7 months ago

      Im sorry these innocent animals do not want to die.

  6. Steph

    With recently being diagnosed with celiacs disease, I’ve been on the lookout for more information to help navigate my diet. This is not book. With just a little research, for people with true problems with gluten, this is nothing more than a fad low carb diet that is latching onto wheat as the boogy man selling point.

  7. Movistar26

    There is something to be said in Dr. Davis’ studies. He’s not merely selling it as weight loss, but also cognitive functions, joint pain and overall health. I’m a vegetarian that has already cut back on bread, cookies, pies, etc., however, my husband and I decided we would try this for the the 30 days (we’re not being super “strict” but definitely have cut out even more than we already have. It won’t hurt.

  8. Tracey

    I’ve read the book. I liked it, to a degree. But, common sense tells me always, that if I have to stop eating ALL of something, someone is being extreme. Which is what I think you we’re saying and I got that. That is just not necessary unless you are allergic. Which, fortunately I’m not.

  9. Ashley

    This diet may not work for everyone, but it definitely works for many. Im not quite sure what qualifications you have that gives you the ability to state what is “partially true” and what is “nonsense” in regard to this way of eating. This is pretty much one of the worst blogs I have ever come across. Please- don’t quit your day job…

  10. Jessica

    A problem that I have with the Wheat Belly book is that it offers a lot of information – that I cannot check because I’m no scientist nor medical expert – about wheat and then in the end, offers a low carb diet.
    The book is supposed to inform us about wheat but it is selling so well because it promises weight loss, which to me seems like a double agenda.
    That said it did make me become more aware of wheat and what it does and does not do for me. I now eat spelt bread, and less bread and wheat products than before, but I will not do the Wheat Belly diet. I have to wonder also, if it’s doable and desirable for a longer period of time.
    Davis also seems to assume that the Paleo style of eating is a good way, which I dare to question, as I don’t believe in eating meat, and I think that many people will replace the wheat / carbs by eating lots of meat and other foods that I personally don’t see as ‘healthy’.
    Lastly: in the video and on pics Dr. Davis looks bloated and not slender. Not healthy, in short. Which continues to surprise me.

    • Jim

      I do believe that like so many diet trends – it all comes down to what works for you. For the last decade we’ve had a real love/hate relationship with carbs – particularly those from grains. If lowering the amount of wheat works for you, then follow it. If not, then don’t give up the bread.

  11. Leon

    “Complete nonsense”?

    I’m not being merely contrarian here, but I think if you’re going to debunk something as big as this you’ll have to do far more work. I don’t think such a scant “article”, by a nutritionist, can stand up to a cardiologists’s entire book that cites anecdotal evidences from over 30 years of medical practice.

    I am not blindly opposed to what you say, because I am not one who thinks MDs are automatically smarter or better informed – especially not about nutrition. In fact, I value the nutritionists far more than MDs for that subject.

    But… Davis presents a case of hard core study and observation over decades, and adds results of other information sources. So you may be right, and he may be wrong, but his work seems compelling to me.

    • Ted

      I don’t think she was trying to debunk anything. She was just pointing out a couple of areas that aren’t fact based on the research that is out there. She agreed with a lot of his theories.

    • J Kresge

      I agree I go with Dr. Davis’ compelling information. I tried this diet because I noticed every time I eat wheat, corn, processed foods with flavorings, etc. and even oat meal of all things, I would get sick, heart palpitations and stomach pain. When I stick with the elimination of those foods, I feel much better and do not worry about ending up in the ER for rapid heart beats anymore! There is a lot of truth to Dr. Davis’ information that it is not the gluten per se but the gliaden and in oats the avenins which are causing the issues for gluten sensitive and celiacs. I would also add that having an allergy to gluten can cause malabsorption which leads to dehydration (been there done that one too) so I have to constantly stay hydrated and drink water constantly.

  12. Spectra

    Ever since I eliminated most processed foods, I simultaneously cut way back on my wheat consumption. I eat mainly veggies, fruits, lean proteins, nuts, popcorn, and the occasional handful of cereal. That’s the extent of the wheat I eat…what’s in the cereal. So while I don’t go out of my way to eschew wheat, I find it’s extremely easy to cut way back on it if you cut out processed foods.

    • Hadel Toma 7 months ago

      Watch earthlings documentary free on youtube. These innocent sentient beings dont not want to die.

Last Reviewed: January 18, 2018