Lose the wheat, lose the spare tire

Rob posted these incredible photos on Facebook. I reproduce them here to archive in the Wheat Belly Blog.

Followed the Runner’s World whole grains approach for 3+ years and running 20+ miles a week and could never lose the spare tire until I gave up wheat and gluten products. These pictures were taken four months apart. I also quit taking 15+ years of prilosec, omeprazole, and nexium meds. Any time I eat gluten, the acid reflux and stomach discomfort come back.




Another picture between Fathers Day ’10 and Fathers Day ’11.








Rob provides a great example of the uselessness of the “exercise more, eat less” idea of losing weight for most people. The crucial step: Lose the wheat.

Like This Post? Sign Up For Updates — It’s FREE!

Plus receive my latest collection of recipes, Wheatbelly Hearty Entrees!

Comments & Feedback...

  1. Dude that is awesome. I’m going through the exact same thing, except with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I’m in my third week of not eating wheat and the transformation is crazy. I’ll post pics once I hit about 6 weeks. Great job man!

  2. PJ

    Woo-hoo! Now that’s a Wheatless Belly! What’s great is that you can get this without extreme exercise, but you’ve shown the fallacy known as calories in, calories out. Great going Rob!

  3. Stacie

    What a great story! I am wondering if anyone can offer advice about weight loss stall. We are pretty much grain-free, processed food free. We eat meat, fish, eggs(free-range from the farm), green leafy vegetables, cheese, some nuts, avocados, and raw milk. And yet, my husband seems to be at a plateau after losing about thirty pounds. Since he has CAD, it seems important to lose the wheat belly. But what to do if you have eliminated wheat?

    • PJ

      I’ve hit a plateau and been there for about 6 months even tho I’ve been wheatless for a year, lo carb most of my life and LC/HSF for several months. I’m trying something a little different to complement the wheat free VLC/HSF lifestyle. Check out http://jackkruse.com/. He’s got a program to help reset your leptin sensitivity which, as I understand, is important for weightloss and the maintenace of the loss. I find Dr. Kruse’s information very interesting and worth a shot.

      • HI, Pj–

        Dr. Kruse does indeed have some unique ideas!

        Also, consider having thyroid and adrenal status assessed. These are common plateau-causing factors.

        • I should also mention that, among thyroid measures, free T3 in particular is a crucial measure to assess. There’s something odd going on around us–organotoxins like perchlorates and polyfluorooctanoic acid?–that is blocking the 5′-deiodinase enzyme that converts the T4 hormone to the active T3.

          • PJ

            I totally agree. Historically, my thyroid has tested well but my cortisol level has been elevated since my husband got sick and passed away, and I recently lost my job. (duh! No surprise there.)
            Since the time is coming up to have some routine tests run, I was going to take some information to my naturopath and ask her to request some additional specific tests. Though I don’t agree with her plant based idea of diet, we have always agreed to disagree on diet philosophy and she is more than willing to work with me. She does agree with eliminating wheat from one’s diet, tho she believes other grains are vital to include in a plant based, high fat diet. Unique lady.
            I’m also going to have her request the specific lipid profile you recommend, so that I know exactly where I stand, in addition to hormone profiles, vit d, hs-crp, etc. I can’t wait to find out the actual count of LDL and so on.
            I find Dr. Kruse’s ideas intriguing since it doesn’t change what I already do, just the timing of what I do.

  4. Rob (from the story)

    When my fat reduction slowed down, I would stick to simple whole foods such as meat and veggies cooked in coconut oil or olive oil. I would cut out all the dairy until I was back on track. Also, I stuck to an 8 hour feeding period and ate mostly two large meals. I don’t snack. I always eat my carbs with protein and fat. I try not to eat after 5pm unless my wife wants to eat out. I was a heavy beer drinker and made my own microbrews. Now, I just have 1-2 shots of tequila and I’m good. Sometimes, I drink Ruinite Lambrusco. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep is important. I always run in a “fasted” state. As soon as I wake up, I use the bathroom and weigh myself and then I drink a quart of water with some caffeine. I wait about 30 minutes and then I go running. I usually eat my first wheat-free meal two hours after my run. I noticed big changes when I kept my carb intake between 50-100g. I weigh myself everyday using a digital scale and I keep a non-measured food and training log. (These are methods that worked for me.) I like the fat loss around my waist, but not having acid reflux was the biggest motivator.

    • Sally

      Just out of curiousity how long are your runs? Do you run daily? I would call myself a jogger.
      I typically can’t run more than 3 miles and no more than 3x a week. If I do I have hip or knee pain.
      I have only been wheat free about 12 days. I do exercise 5-6 days a week, just have to cross train with something else on alternate days. Thanks and congrats on your success, very inspiring to those of us on the journey.

      • Rob

        I try to follow a program called “Run Less, Run Faster.” I run three times a week about 10-15 miles usually Tues, Thurs, and Sat. The runs consist of an interval, tempo, and long. I run mostly 5K races between 21-23 minutes. I ran my fastest 5K at 21:00 while wheat-free last October. I have found that I don’t have to run as much being wheat-free, so I incorporate some weight lifting and cycling. I used to have chronic leg pains because of the wheat (Omega-6s). I also take Vitamin D3, R-ALA, Lemon flavored bottled Fish Oil, Magnesium Malate, CLA, and a good probiotic.

        • Excellent, Rob!

          The wheat-free notion is catching on among athletes. In addition to the effects you experienced, there’s also increased and sustained focus, less mental “fog.” Look at tenis star Djokovic’s experience in which going wheat-free coincided with the skyrocketing of his record. Unfortunately, this is being painted in the media as “gluten-free” when all of us here know that it is more accurately wheat-free.

          • Rob

            One other thing that happened to me when I pushed myself between mile 2 and mile 3 in the 5K, I would get a diarrhea sensation and I would have to slow down a little until it passed. Since giving up the wheat, that problem is gone.

  5. I looked just like Rob 2 years ago. I had a similar story, running for many years, had a belly, developed heart disease, all while eating wheat every day. Stopped the wheat for 2 years now and I look just like Rob.

    • Great, Kim!

      I believe that the connection between wheat consumption and heart disease, via provocation of small LDL that is more glycation-prone, is one of the most underappreciated and undesirable effects attributable to wheat.

      Eat more “healthy whole grains,” have a heart attack.

  6. Proof that carbs & carb loading thicken your blood reducing circulation, oxygenation & cardiac function. A few things not discussed in this article that must be taken into account:
    1. Virtually all high level athletics are performed on glucose from carbs (primarily from wheat & grains) as the fuel substrate.
    2. Virtually all athletes engage in carb loading to build glycogen reserves prior to the event.
    3. Carbohydrates thicken the blood via glycation/glycosylation, increasing viscosity and decreasing circulation speed & therefore tissue oxygenation.

    Here’s the article: http://goo.gl/euehl

    Temporary Heart Damage May Explain Marathon Deaths.
    A new study finds that marathon runners experience temporary heart damage during their 26.2 mile (42.2 kilometer) races. The damage is reversible, but it may be one reason that seemingly healthy people sometimes die during long races.
    “…We know that regular exercise reduces cardiovascular risk by a factor of two or three in the long run, but while we’re doing vigorous exercise such as marathon running, our cardiac risk increases by seven…,”

    Why Fit Runners Die
    “…(Test) results showed that during a marathon, over half of the segments of the heart lose function, Larose said. The reason turns out to be an increase in inflammation and a decrease in blood flow through the muscle.”

    The suggested solution? MORE running, and more water (presumably to reduce blood viscosity & pressure). “…better training and hydration can decrease (but not eliminate!) the damage.

    So what is the cause of the inflammation and decreased blood flow? Ummm, could it be…. CARBS??? Seems pretty clear to me, but don’t ask them because, since they didn’t mention those facts, apparently they didn’t study or even think about that.

    • Fascinating notion, Cancerclasses!

      I agree that “carb loading” is potentially a very deleterious process, especially with this crazy idea of lots of pasta on days prior to heavy exertion.

      • Rebecca

        I’ve been mostly wheat-free and on a reduced carb diet for about a year. I engage in vigorous activity 5 days a week, including long runs of about 15k and hill or track training. For my long runs, I take 1 or 2 gels to keep up my energy level (as recommended by my run leaders). But after reading this blog, I’m starting to wonder if that’s the right thing. Any thoughts?

        (My weight has not changed in the past year, despite carrying an extra 15lbs)

        • Hi, Rebecca–

          The more carbohydrate-restricted your diet, the less you rely on such sugar sources during your training. Also, many of these preparations are made with sucrose and/or fructose, both bad ideas. Glucose or dextrose is more benign.

          I’m a fan of bananas and sweet potatoes if you need sugar. But that tends to be necessary only in the longest efforts, e.g, more than 5 miles running.

        • That study also doesn’t address the insulin problem caused by a high carb intake diet, namely blood clotting caused by high serum insulin which, besides glycation of proteins from high blood glucose, is how & why carbs thicken your blood. Remember, blood is a living tissue which is predominantly proteins and therefore is the first tissue primarily and most immediately susceptible to the glycation effects of high blood sugar from a carbohydrate intake & diet. For a good overview of how serious these conditions can be see this article re brain ischemia. http://goo.gl/Ftwxt

          Here’s a little more food for thought:
          “1. It is well known from the medical literature that insulin causes blood clots, leading to plaque and clogged arteries. The more insulin used the greater the problem. (Cancerclasses comment: not to mention potential pancreatic beta cell burn out and subsequent Type 1 insulin dependent diabetes and all the life long problems associated with that, such as micro-vascular damage & loss of circulation in the extremities , diabetic gangrene & amputations, BAD!)

          2. The current mainstream nutritional recommendations for diabetics (Cancerclasses coment: AND novice & elite performance athletes!) is to ingest as many carbs as possible and minimize proteins and natural fats.

          3. Physiology Fact: Lots of carbs means lots of insulin.

          4. Lots of insulin DOES lower blood sugar but at a BIG PRICE. That price is in heart-related problems.

          5. The diabetics with tight blood sugar control ***through injection of lots of insulin*** do have better blood sugar levels than diabetics who have worse blood sugars (but use less insulin).
          The solution is painfully simple: A low carbohydrate diet and eating twice a day as we were designed to do = excellent blood sugars AND much less insulin. It’s tragic that so few physicians and medical “experts” understand such a basic concept in human physiology.” http://goo.gl/odXDF

          To counteract the blood thickening & clotting effects of high insulin stimulated by a carb diet I would also make sure I am not deficient in essential fatty acids, since most people are, by adding a minimum of 2 grams of omega-6 linoleic acid from pure, organic, cold pressed evening primrose, sunflower, safflower or pumpkin seed oil BALANCED with 1 gram of omega-3 flax to ensure proper blood viscosity and anti clotting properties. Omega-6 linoleic acid is critical for the bodies production of PGE1 prostaglandin which is our bodies most powerful anti inflammatory, and PGI2 prostacyclin which is the most potent anti-aggretory agent (a natural “blood thinner”).

          “PGE1 eicosanoids formed from parent omega-6 are known from the medical textbooks to be fast-acting, anti-inflammatory and to have significant immune-enhancing properties. We need to ensure that plenty of them can be made. They are much more powerful than omega-3’s PGE3.” http://goo.gl/y6VUy

          After all that, I probably would choose to NOT engage in any heart threatening extreme exercise, see the article ‘The Myth of Cardiovascular
          Health From Exercise’ here: http://goo.gl/bYKVc

  7. Paul

    Hello Dr Davis,
    I have been totally wheat free for nearly 4 weeks now, and have found it, (being wheat free), to be far easier than I thought.
    My query is regarding weight loss, or rather, the lack of it!
    I’m Male, 47, 100 kg (approx 220 lbs) 5’10”. I have not been on any medications for the last nine years, and I don’t have a doctor, because I have had no need for one. Aside from the occasional bout of ‘ManFlu’, I have been of extremely good health, or so I believe. I have always been of a ‘solid’ build, but over the last few years the ‘tyre and love handle thing’ has driven me crazy. It’s almost as if the harder I try to lose it, the more gallant I fail, and am then rewarded with even a little bit more because I had the audacity to try and lose it in the first place!
    I have for quite a few years had ‘sugar cravings’, that would on set especially at rest, i.e. reading, watching TV, driving, and would literally have me climbing the walls until I gave in, and a bag of candy later, usually jubes or liquorice, sometimes two bags, the world went on and arrmagedon was averted for another day!
    Since going wheat free, these ‘sugar cravings’ have completely stopped. Which I cannot believe, but I am delighted about and continually marvel about how easy it has been, and maybe the whole thing was carb – blood sugar related. My father is alcoholic – diabetic, so I have always been aware of both and their devastating relationship. I rarely consume alcohol, perhaps one drink per month, if that.
    My question is,
    Is there some type of re adjustment or re set needed before I start to see some degree of weight loss? Or is there something more sinister that I should be aware of?
    And will the weight loss be predominantly visceral fat at first , or more all over fat loss?

    Thank you.