I eliminated wheat—and I didn’t lose weight!

Elimination of wheat is a wonderfully effective way to lose weight. Because saying goodbye to wheat means removing the gliadin protein of wheat, the protein degraded to brain-active exorphins that stimulate appetite, calorie consumption is reduced, on average, 400 calories per day. It also means eliminating this source of high blood sugar and high blood insulin and the 90-minutes cycles of highs and lows that cause a cyclic need to eat more at the inevitable low. It means that the high blood sugar and insulin phenomena that trigger accumulation of visceral fat are now turned off. It may possibly also mean that wheat lectins no longer block the leptin receptor, undoing leptin resistance and allowing weight loss to proceed. And weight loss usually results effortlessly and rapidly.

But not always. Why? Why are there people who, even after eliminating this appetite-stimulating, insulin-triggering, leptin-blocking food, still cannot lose weight? Or stall after an initial few pounds?

There are a list of reasons, but here are the biggies:

1) Too many carbohydrates–What if I eliminate wheat but replace those calories with gluten-free breads, muffins, and cookies? Then I’ve switched one glucose-insulin triggering food for another. This is among the reasons I condemn gluten-free foods made with rice starch, cornstarch, tapioca starch, and potato starch. Or perhaps there’s too many potatoes, rices, and oats in your diet. While not as harmful as wheat, they still provoke phenomena that cause weight loss to stall. So cutting carbohydrates may become necessary, e.g., no more than 12-14 grams per meal.

2) Fructose–Fructose has become ubiquitous and has even assumed some healthy-appearing forms. “Organic agave nectar” is, by far, the worst, followed by maple syrup, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose,and fruit–yes, in that order. They are all sources of fructose that causes insulin resistance, visceral fat accumulation or persistency, prolongation of clearing postprandial (after-meal) lipoproteins that antagonize insulin, and glycation. Lose the fructose sources–as much of it as possible. (Fruit should be eaten in very small portions.) Watch for stealth sources like low-fat salad dressings–you shouldn’t be limiting your fat anyway!

3) Thyroid dysfunction–A real biggie. Number one cause to consider for thyroid dysfunction: iodine deficiency. Yes, it’s coming back in all its glory, just like the early 20th century before iodized salt made it to market shelves. Now, people are cutting back on iodized salt. Guess what’s coming back? Iodine deficiency and even goiters. Yes, goiters, the disfiguring growths on the neck that you thought you’d only see in National Geographic pictures of malnourished native Africans. Number two: Exposure to factors that block the thyroid. This may include wheat, but certainly includes perchlorate residues (synthetic fertilizer residues) on produce, pesticides, herbicides, polyfluorooctanoic acid residues from non-stick cookware, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants), and on and on. If you are iodine-deficient, it can even include goitrogenic iodine-blocking foods like broccoli, cauliflower, and soy. Thyroid status therefore needs to be assessed.

4) Cortisol–Not so much excess cortisol as disruptions of circadian rhythm. Cortisol should surge in the morning, part of the process to arouse you from sleep, then decline to lower levels in the evening to allow normal recuperative sleep. But this natural circadian cycling is lost in many people represented, for instance, as a flip-flopping of the pattern with low levels in the morning (with morning fatigue) and high levels at bedtime (with insomnia), which can result in stalled weight loss or weight gain. Cortisol status therefore needs to be assessed, best accomplished with salivary cortisol assessment.

5) Leptin resistance–People who are overweight develop an inappropriate resistance to the hormone, leptin, which can present difficulty in losing weight. This can be a substantial issue and is not always easy to overcome. It might mean assessing leptin levels or it might mean taking some steps to overcome leptin resistance.

Okay, that’s a lot. Next: More on how to know when thyroid dysfunction is to blame.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. I posted this on my Facebook “diary”:

    I grew up eating a gluten free diet. My mother got it from F.Curtis Dohan that the Coeliac diet was good for schizophrenia, too. My dad had that diagnosis and so the whole family went on the diet to avoid stigma, complications and, probably, “just in case”!

    As an adult I have sympathised with the idea but had drifted back to a wheated diet although have always had a healthy lifestyle – walking, yoga, swimming. Nine months ago, cross I could no longer do some of the exercises I dropped wheat and gluten containing grains and tried to lower all other carbohydrates. My weight and bulk had crept up to around 14 stone. Since that time I’ve lost about a stone and speed walk long distances. Plus I’ve got my yoga back and improved upon it.

    Two days ago I found this book [ie your “Wheat Belly”] and it provides all the rationales for my experience, quotes our old friend F.Curtis Dohan and adds a lot I’d not thought about. In my jigsaw of life, this is the previously missing puzzle piece.

    I so stronly recommend it to utterly everyone who ever thinks about their own or any other’s health.

    An absolute must to read AND to follow.

  2. Anthony

    2 weeks and still nothing. Can’t figure out what I am dng wrong. I have had no wheat withdrawal symptoms and my appetite has decreased. This is very frustrating and I have switched to truvia and stevia and my sweetener of choice.

    Can anyone help?

  3. LorLor

    I see in many of these comments where various tests are run to check for thyroid, food sensitivities, etc. I was wondering if anyone has had experience with independent testing; I see ads online to order your own tests, you just have to go to a local lab for the blood draw. Are these handled the same way as doctor-ordered tests? I’d like to be able to get some of these but my doctor’s a bit entrenched in her ways and refuses to think past the usual recommendations. I want to take a greater role in my health and do what I can without sitting in her waiting room for an hour.

    Also, I’m considering seeing a naturopath, since the closest functional medicine doctor is two hours away. Do naturopaths ever order lab tests or is that not “natural” enough? Any comments pro/con on these questions would be appreciated.

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, many people obtain self-ordered testing nowadays. Not allowed in New York or California by law, however, likely meaning the hospital labs have a strong lobbying group. However, the best solution might be to first get a better doctor, since that gives you the option of having your labs paid for by your health insurance.

      Yes, the naturopaths can order blood tests in most states.

      • JPBA

        Might have changed recently, as it’s fine here in California, and I have done this a few times recently. LorLor, I was in a similar situation, Dr. not very helpful. I used DirectLabs and it’s been great. They also offer various price specials each month.

  4. Amy

    My husband and I have been on WB for about three weeks. We believe in the WB philosophy and find it easy to follow as a life long change. We are both 40 years old. My husband has a history of diabetes in his family so we are trying to avoid him becoming diabetic as well. He is also on thyroid medication. I had my thyroid tested in September and it came back in normal range. We have followed WB very closely. He has lost maybe 5 pounds and I am at 2 lbs. and that was all in the first week. I am hoping to lose about 15 lbs and my husband has a goal of as much as 100 lbs. We know it is not going to happen over night but dont know what we should expect. We are looking for any info or suggestions anyone can offer. Thank you!

  5. Lizzie

    Hi Dr Davis, I have a question. My daughter is 15 and she has been on the WB lifestyle change for 3 weeks. At the start of her WB journey she weighed in at 76kg. She is not one of these kids with skinny dyng “chicken” legs (if you get my meaning) she has a very muscular build (legs particularly) but has a belly – hence why we started following WB. I have also eliminated cheese and dairy from her diet purely for acne control. She lost 2kg in the first 2 weeks but has put 2.5kgs back on this week – however all her clothes are still loose and she looks like she hasn’t put any weight back on. She says that she feels like she has put muscle on. Is this “normal” due to lack of grain/wheat? (She is also taking one Vitamin D/calcium suppliment and also a multi vitamin tablet daily). Not sure if you have come across this before? Thanks for your time.

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, some people do indeed respond with loss of visceral (abdominal) fat concomitant with increased muscle. I don’t know why it is, but it is a good development!

      Is there no end to the ways that wheat consumption messes up health and metabolism?

  6. Sarah

    I am a 29 year old fairly fit woman. I was interested in trying the wheat belly diet and have been doing it for 8 weeks. I workout doing interval type training 6 times a week (45 mins) and I run at least 15km every week. I’ve always used my excercise as a justification to eat so I’ve found it difficult to lose the 5 pounds I’d really love to get rid of around my waste. After reading the wheat belly book and your discussion about fat triatheletes, I decided to give the wheat belly diet a try. I have cut out all grains, I read all labels, I eat 1 fruit a day and have cut out all other sources of wheat that I can find and in spite of my efforts I’ve actually put on 3 pounds. I do eat quite a few nuts…I’m wondering if I’m eating too many. I’m wondering if my body is actually reserving carbs because of my exercise level. I can’t figure out what else I can do. Other than my lack of weight loss…everything else has been pretty good.
    Any advice would be great.

    • Dr. Davis

      I would urge you to seriously consider each and every item on this list, Sarah.

      You may be surprised, for instance, that you have iodine deficiency or thyroid dysfunction as the cause. The fix, thank goodness, is easy once you identify the problem.

  7. Karnac

    For everyone struggling with the problem of not losing weight on the WB diet I thought I’d pass along my experience so far. On Aug 1 this year I went wheat free. In May 2012 I topped out at 307 lbs of fun. I had lost 80 lbs in 2010 using HCG drops, starving on a 500 calorie diet….miserable most of the time……Then I went on the maintenence plan, reintroduced bread and gained every pound back. Same thing in 2007 with the GI Diet……Same in 1984 on the HCG needles….reintroduced the bread and I ballooned again. So in May I decided to try again and I started dieting, painfully losing 15 pounds by late July. Then “The Book” entered my life. I ordered it, read it, read it again and on Aug1 went wheat free. Here are the results so far:

    Start Weight: 291 lb on 08/01/2012
    End Weight: 251 lb on 11/29/2012
    Total Change: -40 lb
    Avg. Weekly Change: -2.3 lb
    Maximum Weight: 291 lb on 08/01/2012
    Minimum Weight: 251 lb on 11/29/2012

    My goal is 190 – 200lbs….Should arrive late April 2013…..Think long term.

    The best advice I can give is when you go wheat free USE a food journal. I can’t emphasize this enough. I used Fitday.com. Every meal I’ve ate since Aug is in that journal. It is an incredible motivator. You track your food daily and see your results……After several days on the diet, the craving to eat begins to diminish. I struggle to reach 600 calories many days, and yet I’m never ever hungry, and skipping a meal is routine now. I eat everything I want as long as its wheatfree. Portion sizes have adjusted themselves as I now can only eat 1 chicken breast, or 1 pork chop, or 1 salmon steak instead of 2…..I take a Centrum multivitamin daily. I’d like to say I exercised but I’d be lying, in fact my mobility has been curtailed by a long bout of sciatica during that time. Going wheat free is the easiest “weigh” to lose pounds I have ever tried. Thanks again Dr. Davis….I hope Santa fills your stocking with book orders.

    • Dr. Davis

      Excellent, Karnac!

      Yes, I fear many, many people suffer through all the wacky contortions of diet, gaining, losing, gaining, losing . . . when the real culprit in weight gain was not identified: wheat.

      Lose the wheat and it all becomes clear!

  8. Judy

    I had been in excruciating pain for several days with classic symptoms of gall bladder. Dr. ordered ultrasound and CT Scan of abdominal area. Ruled out gall bladder, kidney, liver issues and said diverticulitis. Gave me prescriptions for Cipro and Flagyl which I decided not to take. Instead I read Wheat Belly and my symptoms are pretty much resolved after 4 days of no wheat. I’ve cut out wheat and high-fructose since they seem to go hand-in-hand. My question is how much weight loss in a short amount of time is normal? I’ve lost 9 pounds in 5 days. Should I be concerned?

    • Dr. Davis

      Wow, Judy!

      That much weight loss is unusual in such a short time. So I suspect that you have likely lost a lot of water, i.e., edema from various organs. It means that you must have been experiencing marked inflammation. Now that you’ve removed the trigger for inflammation–wheat–you are losing the consequences of inflammation. I believe this is a GOOD thing!

  9. Alison

    I hope you can help me. I am really interested in going wheat free for a number of reasons: weight gain; fatigue; allergy symptoms; etc. But I am having trouble imagining just what I will eat. I have allergies / sensitivities to dairy, tree nuts, eggs, soy and tomatoes so I assume I should try eliminating those food groups as well? should i eliminate them all at once or one group at a time? As i cant have almond or soy milk, not sure what, if anything, to replace milk with. Are non-wheat grains like quinoa, kamut and brown rice ok to eat? And if making a cheese sauce or gravy, what can be used in place of wheat flour as a thickener?

  10. Carri

    One thing I am not seeing here is mention of sleep disorders. It is well documented that intrusions of sleep that disturb regular sleeping patterns can wreak havoc with a person’s metabolism. As mentioned in the article, cortisol is one of the hormones associated with waking from sleep. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea and Restless Leg Syndrome (among many others) cause disruption in normal sleep patterns. When aroused from sleep the body responds by sending out the wake hormones each time. In many cases, folks are not even aware of these (though weary bed partners may be form listening to snoring or being kicked) as they do not wake up fully enough to be conscious and aware of what disrupted their sleep.

    It doesn’t hurt to have sleep evaluated as part of a weight loss plan – especially if the weight is not being lost. Many bariatric practices require an assessment of sleep and adherence to therapy as part of a pre-surgical plan.

  11. Rita McDowell

    Several years ago I had lap band surgery and lost 60 lbs. after gaining back about 12 lbs and never being able to drop down below 185 lbs(I am now at 197) I decided to try Wheat Belly. After reading the book my husband and I decided to go “cold turkey” and got rid of everything outlined in the book. We are on week 3 and both of us feel better than we have in years. You know that feeling of getting up in the morning and not feeling good but not feeling bad ? Just kind of UGH ? Well that is completely gone as well as the brain fog. We have more energy and are going to the gym 4 days a week, my knees don’t ache anymore, and we are both sleeping much better. The problem ? We have not lost any weight. Is there something we need to tweek ? We have been following the recipes in the cookbook and haven’t cheated once. We have no desire to “cheat” and ruin the way we feel and are very satisfied with the foods we eat. Any suggestions ?

    Thank you
    Rita McDowell

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, Rita: Follow the advice in this blog post!

      95% of the time the answer can be found right here. It’s not 100%, but its damn close!

  12. Brandy

    I have been wheat free for nearly 3 weeks, plus for 2 weeks before that I was weaning off wheat. I dont feel any better and actually feel more tired. I have no energy and am sleeping more, plus taking long naps. I didnt have any problems going off wheat. No headaches or withdrawl symptoms. I never cared for wheat and didnt eat very much any way, which made it easy for me. Im eating better foods and less food altogether. I do have fibromyalgia and a few other problems. I didnt know if it takes longer for me to feel better. Am I going through some kind of detox even after 3 weeks? No weight loss at all either. I just feel so bad and dont know why. Any ideas? Thank you.

  13. Lydia Liebchen

    Brandy, I am totally in the same boat. I cleared my closets, pantry, and put the whole family on the Wheat Belly Diet. Following it to the LETTER. I am a chef and I get the whole concept and have had a great time with the dishes in the cookbook.

    It’s been 3 weeks, and I am not seeing any weight loss AT ALL. I am going for a thyroid screening as I am on Synthroid and I want to see if anything else needs to be added to the medications. My doctor said I need to cut the calories, but it’s hard to explain this diet to traditional doctors. He thinks I am nuts. My husband is just using the lack of weight loss to show me there’s gotta be a better way.

    It’s a daily battle with my family, but the way I look at it is, If I Am Doing the Cooking, You Will Eat What I Put on The Table.

    I hope someone can get back to me with some words of encouragement, or an answer to this horrible no-weight-loss situation.

    • Dr. Davis

      No encouragement needed, Lydia. You need a new doctor.

      You are being treated with the T4 thyroid hormone, while most (80% or more) require T4 and T3. Not obtaining T3 causes most people to gain weight or fail to lose weight, even when all the right things are done. Neglecting T3 also causes low energy, depression, cold hands and feet, and can magnify risk for heart disease. Your doctor chose to follow the advice of the sexy Synthroid representative rather than think for him/herself.

      Get a new doctor who is willing to work with your T3 thyroid hormone and, more often than not, the weight comes off.

      • Sally Ann Quinn

        Dr. Davis,

        I am hoping you can help me understand this. I have been grain free and soy free for almost four months now. I have Hashimoto’s and adrenal fatigue and am being treated for both. 60 mg Amour and an adrenal support supplement from my Dr. My weight has not budged. I am abut 30 pounds overweight and I am trying to be patient. I was on synthroid for over ten years before switching to Amour just a couple months ago. I’m not sure if the new meds just haven’t kicked in yet or I may have to raise the dosage. Any advice would be appreciated. I go back in for bloodwork in about 2 weeks.

        • Dr. Davis

          Yes, the dosage has to be correct.

          I aim to keep TSH less than 1.0 mIU and keep free T3 and free T4 in the upper half of the quoted “reference range.” It may also be useful to assess reverse T3, as it can block the action of your T3.

          • Sally Ann Quinn

            Hello, I left a question on your opinion of the HCG diet, but cannot find it on the blog now. Just curious on your thoughts. I’ve been hearing that those of us with thyroid issues, still not losing weight eliminating grains, etc. benefit from this protocol. Thanks for the info…

          • Dr. Davis

            I’ve seen this approach work well, but I am unsure how much is a genuine effect of the HCG and how much is due to the calorie restriction.

  14. L.J.

    In two days it will be six weeks since eliminating wheat and all grains. I haven’t lost weight. I’ve gained two pounds; however, my clothes are feeling a bit loose. I think the two pounds may be due to my period ending yesterday. I feel so thirsty all the time! I’m drinking at least a gallon of water a day. I have no medical conditions. I’m 39 years old, well on Sunday ill be 39. I only eat meat, fish, nuts veggies and today I had a piece of fruit for the first time in ten days. My net carbs have been under 50g a day. I don’t exercise. I’m a massage therapist so my activity for the day may be too low? I’m trying to eat between 1200 to 1400 calories a day but am averaging about 700-1000. Maybe I need to up my fat intake? I’m taking iodine drops and other supplements. Help. Anyone?

  15. L.J.

    I just read that lack of sleep can contribute to stalling weight loss. I do not get enough sleep. I guess I will try harder to do that.

  16. Deborah

    I have been on the wheat belly diet for 2 weeks and I have gained 8 pounds in this time. I don’t even know how this is possible. The first week maybe I was eating too many nuts, but since then I have cut down to a handful of nuts a day. I am a vegetarian, and have been following the diet strictly with absolutely no processed foods. As far as I know my thyroid is fine. I am on some medication for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that can cause weight gain ( paxil and abilify) and my weight had been creeping up, that is why I started the wheat belly diet. But now to gain so much weight in such a short amount of time with eating only healthy foods… I just don’t understand what is going on. Any ideas??
    Thank you for any help you can provide,

    • Deborah

      Just to update, those eight pounds went away, just bloated maybe? And it has taken three and a half weeks but my appetite has now decreased and my cravings for carbs has gone away. Yeah!

  17. DianeA

    I read the Wheat Belly book in early October and it made a lot of sense to me so I immediately went wheat free. I didn’t find it difficult and for six weeks had no grains and no sugar products. I did not lose any weight (and I have a lot to lose) and although I thought I felt “somewhat better” in that I had no cravings, some more energy and maybe less joint pain, I was discouraged so with the holiday season and a vacation approaching I decided I would eat wheat “for convenience sake”. Good grief….that is when I realised how much better I had been feeling. Almost immediately, I was tired, seriously tired, I almost don’t have the energy to climb the stairs (was this because I was having so little sleep? Why was I sleeping so badly?). My knee and elbow joints hurt, my back hurt, the lump on my index finger joint got bigger, my bowel problems returned, and my nasal passages seemed to be tight again and I was breathing through my mouth again…..and let’s not even discuss my beach-ball belly! Why had I not realised that I had lost most of these problems in the six weeks? I guess because the changes had been subtle and I was so focussed on my weight, that it was the only measure I noticed. Guess who is now going grain free again from tomorrow and is going to keep a close watch on energy levels, light-headedness, joint discomfort, bowel discomfort, and breathing problems?

  18. Diane

    Boundless…thank you for the link!

    Dr. Davis…..Stealth Health indeed…..but if I find it again, I won’t stay under the radar! I will be shouting from the rooftops!

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, we don’t talk about this much, but it is easy to overdo pistachios with a resultant overexposure to carbs. There are 22 grams “net” carbs per cup, a bit over the 15 grams maximum that most people tolerate.

  19. Megan Harris

    Last year, before I’d ever heard of wheat belly I lost 50 lbs simply by limiting processed foods, switching to mostly whole grains and limiting sugar. In the same way, I’ve kept the weight off. Recently my husband has benefited from the wheat belly diet and I’ve begun to follow it with him. I’ve virtually cut out all grain and sugars except fruits and am following all of Dr Davis’ advice to the best of my ability. I’ve done this for almost two months, and in that time I’ve gained three pounds. There didn’t seem to be any thyroid problems before as evidenced by my weightloss and the success I’d had at keeping the weight off.
    I welcome any thoughts as to what might be my problem.
    I’ve increased my dairy and nut intake since cutting out the grains. Could these be the culprits?

  20. Janet

    Dr. Davis, or Anyone,
    Help! I am not losing weight anymore. I have found that if I even eat 10 carbs per day that I either gain weight or don’t lose anything. I do feel so much better being wheat free since Octobe 22, 2012.and have lost about 13 lbs., but that was all in the first 3 weeks. So, I am getting a little frustrated. Is it possible for someone to actually be so messed up that they have to remove all carbs in order to lose again? I have given up nuts and dairy recently to see if that helps. I also have started taking all the supplements you recommended, including 925 mcg of Kelp each day to see if that helps.
    Just wondering if have you heard of this new supplement, Pure Garcinia Cambogia? Do you think this is something I should try to see if that gets my wieght loss jump started again?
    I love your Wheat Belly book and have told everyone to buy it and I also have the Wheat Belly Cookbook and have made many things from it. It’s great!


  21. JJ

    I’ve been wheat and sugar free for 12 weeks. From week 0-4 I was probably eating 40 grams of carbs per day, since then I’ve been below 20 g/day and averaging 1500 calories/day. I gained 6 lbs in the first 8 weeks then cut out dairy and lost 3 lbs. now stalled. My thyroid tests show good function but I use iosol drops anyway. I exercise every other day. Very frustrating on the weight loss front because I do feel I’m reaping the benefits of less hunger, etc.. Any ideas?

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes: Get your thyroid values and feel free to post them here. Never accept “normal” without seeing the values. Many people have subtle degrees of hypothyroidism sufficient to impair weight loss efforts.

      If that is not the case, then refer to the checklist in this post, JJ.

  22. Anne Ralls

    Just a suggestion for your web developer. Could the entries posted appear in date order rather than the latest entries appearing at the bottom of the page? I am a web developer and know this should be a simple fix. It would make reading new entries much easier for people.
    – A Ralls

  23. LM

    This may not be the most appropriate place for my question –perhaps I should have started a new thread, but I wonder if anyone has experienced TOO MUCH weight loss with the wheat free diet.

    I have been eliminating obvious sources of wheat for roughly 4 months and have been steadily losing weight. By obvious, I mean that I don’t go out of my way to avoid things that contain trace amounts of wheat, soy sauce, or other sauces thickened with flour. I also don’t totally avoid beer, though I tend not to drink a lot of it. I have tested negative for celiac disease and don’t believe that I have a noticeable sensitivity to wheat.

    In the first month or so, I started noticing a change of shape in the stomach, hips, rear, and thighs, as evidenced by my trousers becoming gradually baggier; but now the scale confirms that I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds, and I was not overweight to begin with. It was never my intent to lose weight, but I was initially happy with slimming effect of the new regimen. Now I’ve gone from being happy with the results to wondering if I should be concerned. I exercise and try to eat well being mindful of minimizing carbohydrate intake/effects on blood sugar. I don’t think I have any other health issues going on. I also don’t think that I’m underweight for my height…yet, but am content with my present size and would like to stabilize here. A matter of practicality: Only about 2 pairs of pants still fit me and I’m reluctant to go shopping because I don’t know how much more I might shrink. I look forward to comments or suggestions from anyone who has had a similar experience or just has some advice to impart.

    • Dr. Davis

      This is such an important issue that I’d like to post your comment as a blog post, LM.

      So stay tuned!

  24. K.C.

    I have been wheat free for two weeks today. Initially lost 4lbs in 4 days and was very motivated. Since the initial weight loss I stalled then gain the 4lbs back as of this morning. I do feel better and my cravings are gone and it feels pretty good to be able to go 4 or 5 hours and not feel starved and for that reason alone I have stuck with it. I’m 42 years old and have had blood work to confirm that I am in menopause my estrogen is low and my FSH is high. The test did not indicate there was a problem with my thyroid. I was given a prescription for estrogen and progesterone that I have not started yet. There is not a clear reason other then heredity for my early menopause. I was hesitant to start the medication because I didn’t want anything to interfere with my weight loss but that may be my problem, I’m just unsure. I know that you discussed hormone levels of estrogen in the book and I thought mine might straighten out after a while. I wondered if I should start the medication or not? I looked for information on discussing menopause and this diet but I didn’t find anything.

  25. lori L

    I am crying reading these posts. I have tried the wheat belly for 2 weeks and feel terrible. I feel “puffier” and “fatter” than ever. I am currently 30 lbs overweight. I am 5’5 and 180 and just turned 46. I am loyal to the diet and have avoided all breads except for the almond flour pizza recipe. I workout 3 days a week, with weight training and high impact cardio. I have no energy and I am extremely emotional lately. I eat veggies for breakfast, I eat a handful of no salt recommended nuts for lunch and maybe veggies and lean meat and veggies for dinner, and I feel full all day actually uncomfortably dystended in my upper abdonmen (maybe the nuts??) but i dont feel better, I feel worse, and I dont crave carbs, I just want to lose weight. I have had zero change in the way my clothes fit and I look “bigger”. My thyroid, sugar, and lipids are fine. I take meds for high blood pressure but they seem to act more like a diuretic. I called my doc today (may 1, 2013) and asked for help or a referral IM FED UP.
    Lori L.

    • Dr. Davis

      Gee, Lori, this sounds like the stories of many people who have just a couple of issues impeding your progress:

      1) A failure to properly transition bowel flora. Minus wheat, your bowel flora needs to repopulate with healthier organisms. This can be quickly remedied with a high-potency probiotic, e.g., 50 billion CFUs per day for 4-8 weeks.

      2) NEVER accept the pronouncement of a “normal” thyroid panel. I’ve lost count of the number of people with abnormal thyroid status who have nothing of the kind. I would obtain your values and encourage you to post them here for feedback. I’ll bet only a TSH value was done.

  26. Holly

    Dear Dr. Davis,
    Love your book and think it’s amazing. I’ve been mostly wheat free (+grain and sugar free) for six weeks now, save for the occasional cheat. Don’t miss it at all and I feel really good. BUT, like many on here, I have seen virtually no weight loss. Granted I don’t have a ton to lose. I’m 5’9″, 47 year fit and active female (work out ~ 5 x week), carrying an extra 15 lbs. at 150 lbs. that has just crept on over the last 10 years. Initially, I lost 5 lbs. but it has come right back on, despite my limiting the nuts, and I don’t eat any gluten free products either. I seriously wonder if my thyroid could be the issue as I do have more hair loss than normal, however as a self employed person I do not have health insurance good enough to cover the costs of TSH testing and doctor’s visits just to figure this out.

    My question is, is there any safe, rather natural remedy one could try to boost thyroid functioning, just assuming that my thyroid is sluggish? Sort of an odd question, but I’m at my wit’s end but have been fighting this extra 15 lbs for years and just want to feel comfortable in my own skin again. I would have thought that eliminating wheat and keeping my carb intake less than 100 g per day would have surely done the trick! Or maybe it just takes a lot longer than six weeks?

    Thanks so much for any advice.

    • Dr. Davis

      Well, Holly, first of all I would regard a 100 gram carb per day diet as a HIGH-carb diet, not low. Low-carb is more like 40-45 grams per day.

      Second, iodine can help hypothyroidism but only if iodine deficiency is present. I have my patients take 500-1000 mcg per day from an iodine supplement, e.g., kelp. Beyond this, there is really nothing we can do beyond wheat elimination except thyroid hormone tablets. There are plenty of “thyroid support” supplements, but they do not work.

  27. Holly

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. Perhaps I’m confused but I’m not sure I understand how a diet of LESS than 100g of carbs per day – which all come from vegetables, protein, and the occasional fruit (ie, berries, pears) – could be considered to be a high carb diet? According to various Paleo guidelines this is considered to be optimal ‘fat-burning range’. As I said, I am almost entirely wheat, grain and sugar-free (think I’ve had ice cream twice in six weeks and organic sprouted bread once, plus I’m not avoiding things with traces of wheat like soy sauce).

    However, I will try your suggestions to increase my probiotic intake, which I had not done, as well as intermittent fasting. Then I will put my scale in the closet, where no doubt it belongs, and concentrate on more important things like endeavoring to wean my 12-year-old athlete son off of his high carb/wheat-based diet which still includes all those bagels and pizzas! :)


    • Dr. Davis

      Okay, Holly: We are talking about slightly different things.

      I am referring to “net” carbs, i.e., total carbs – fiber. It sounds like you are talking about total carbs that includes fiber.

      I find it difficult to regulate carb intake using total carbs, as healthy, desirable foods like broccoli and asparagus can appear high-carb but their “net” carb content is low.

      I believe it is more instructive to follow the “net” carb rule.

  28. K.C.

    I have been wheat free for over three weeks now. I’m reading everything trying to figure out why I’m not loosing any weight. I even thought maybe it was my thyroid but I had that tested and all my results were normal. T3 -3.10 / T4-1.4 / TSH 2.46 / Thyroxin 8.1. I initially lost 4 lbs. then immediately gained it back now I’m holding steady at 197 lbs. I’m 42 and in menopause. Is this reason alone for not being able to lose weight? I am doing everything by the book but still no results. Should I just learn to live with the fact that I’m going to be fat? I’m active for my age I am not a couch potato. What am I doing wrong? I recently lost 30 lbs. by practically staring myself and doing HCG shots. I was eating 500 calories a day and even then It took three weeks for the scales to budge. Of course that all came back in three weeks that’s right it took me three months to lose it and I gained it back in three weeks of course this when I was still eating “healthy” whole grain. This diet really makes sense to me and I love having control of my eating and being able to go five and six hours and not be starved. I’m probably eating a third of what I use to eat and I’m satisfied but it would be nice to have some visual results. I measured myself before I started and have not lost a pound or an inch. What else can I do?

    • Boundless

      > I have been wheat free for over three weeks now.

      What is your net carb intake per day? If you don’t know the number, chances are it’s higher than you might guess. That’s why it’s the #1 thing to check in Dr. D’s list in the article above.

      The WB targets are 50 grams or less per day, 15 grams or less per meal or 6-hour period. Net carb is total carb minus fiber carb.

    • EA

      we are in the same boat. It is impssible for me to loose anything. Dramatically changed diet-improved intake, no wheat, grain, sugar, no bananas, oranges…seems one thing I need to eliminate is yogurt-who would have thought, such a high carbohydrate content-my highest carb regular in my diet. Next will be smoothies, the 8 g carbs from the frozen berries are my next highest single item carb food in the diet…thyroid always tests fine…tried that before at inability to loose weight. Increasing in strength….did an annual push up test-last year had 15, this year, up to 37…but I sure wish some of the excess 35 lbs would shed…let me know if you figure it out!

  29. EA

    I have given up wheat and grains and for the most part, sugar, though when I do “cheat’ it has been with sugary foods (5 days total over the past 2 months, and 2 of these days were this past weekend. I cheated with my first “gluten-free” mix-brownies–and, gained 2.2 lbs in 3 days). Over 2 months now. Increased vegetables, meats, nuts (almonds, pecans and walnuts) seeds (flax, hemp, sunflower, pumpkin and pinyon)…not a whole lot of dairy (but some-1/2 & 1/2 in my organic decaf and a serving of yogurt a day) and no weight loss at all. At first, I did loose 4 lbs in about 4 weeks, but back to increasing. My in-law quit eating wheat and has lost ‘2 pant sizes’ in less time. It is very frustrating. I can stand to loose 35 lbs, so it isn’t like I have nothing to loose. I hadn’t been able to loose with increasing exercise (walking 19 miles a week plus stretching every morning and often fluidity or ballet dvd’s),and eating healthy, so I thought perhaps it is wheat and grains, and I simply switched into being a person who is not eating them, or craving them either. I feel fine, but not getting the results I was looking for, like many others posting here. I wish I could figure out what I am doing wrong.

    • I was having the same problem until I started taking Culturelle – the probiotic supplement and that has been helpful in making my stomach go in. Haven’t checked it on the scales but my clothes are fitting better.Just today I could see a marked difference in my profile and my stomach doesn’t stick out and the fat on my back has also gone to make it slimmer from the back.
      I’m in lax mode right now, because I am observing the fasts of Ramadan and that helps also. Once this ends, I will go back to having my almond flour and flaxseed muffins, and chick pea salad.
      I make spicy chickpea flour pancake style bread at home which goes really well with yogurt.
      I have hypothyroidism since birth, my gland doesn’t work so I take the Synthroid for that. other than that my appetite has gone down and my stomach feels really good without any wheat and grain. I drink tea and have sugar in that. I am trying to reduce the number of cups I drink in a day. Hoepfully I will be able to drop it out completely.
      The culturelle helped a great deal.

  30. EA

    net carbs are between 50-70 a day, it was 55 yesterday, with the yogurt. That has to go, it is the only thing I eat with over 10 g…other then that, the unsweetened fruit in the smoothie is the big carb intake of the day (8 g)

  31. Kim Vojensky

    Need help with weight loss. I started the wheat free diet two weeks ago and have not lost any weight. It’s very frustrating because I’m doing a protein and vegetable at every meal. No snacks, I walk daily and drink plenty of water. I am on Synthroid for thryoid problems, but last lab, my thyroid was at 2.0. I would love to know what I can do make this program a success for me. I don’t believe I could eat any less and would hope to even add more food to my diet. An example of eating daily would be: Sausage & banana at breakfast; chicken salad with hot sauce for lunch, chicken or steak and veggies for dinner.

    Thank you.

  32. EA

    About to eat an apple and saw how many grams of carbs it has—22! Well, I may still eat it, but that brings my carb intake up to 55 grams today and it is only 4 PM! Somehow I have a hard time believing an apple could be the cause of me not loosing any weight. I did “loose” the 2.2 lbs I gained over the weekend, “cheating” with a gluten free brownie mix (between a half dozen people–no, I didn’t eat much, just two small pieces in 2 days) so that brings me to where I was last week wt wise, or the week before, heck, the same as last month!

    • With apples, the carbs are largely sugars, and adverse sugars at that. Wiki says: “apples and pears contain more than twice as much free fructose as glucose”. Fructose is a fat magnet. See:

      By the way, there’s a newer version of the “I didn’t lose the weight” article. Click my user name or search for “I lost the wheat, but didn’t lose weight: 2”.

  33. Dk

    It’s good to hear there are others experiencing the frustration I am. I need to lose 25 lbs and have been working to follow the Wheat Belly way. I haven’t been “in the know” with net carbs, however, if an apple is “out”, I’m in trouble. I’m not someone with a wide palette for many fruits and vegetables and after 3 weeks am getting bored, and have lost 2 lbs total. My story isn’t anything close to those in the book or on this website. I ordered the cook book from Amazon and am going to try some of the recipes. I like to have smoothies in the morning and have been doing a mixed berry, coconut milk and my whey protein. Sometimes I add a banana and spinach. My thyroid is fine, have had that checked. Any help is appreciated.

    • LydTN

      I’m not sure if the poster of this comment is still checking the board, but if there is anyone out there facing a similar plight (limited palate), don’t lose heart! First of all, when you eliminate the addiction associated with a lot of high-carb foods like wheat, and even cheese for some people (because of the casein protein), your palate will naturally begin opening up to a wider variety. Start by adding healthy fat like pasture-fed butter, coconut oil, ghee, or olive oil to vegetables and play with your seasonings. It takes an adjustment period, which can be discouraging, but the more you “cheat” the more slowly it will happen. Try taking the program in steps. When I first started, I focused only on eliminating wheat in the obvious places (bread, tortillas, pasta, etc.). During this phase I used gluten-free grocery store foods, like crackers and waffles, sparingly (less than once a day). Lost about five pounds in the first week. Next I eliminated ALL grains, including the “gluten free” foods, and foods with vague nutritional labels. Then I increased my fat intake dramatically and my protein intake moderately, switching to only wild caught fish and pasture-fed eggs and dairy, which are the only animal products I have ever eaten (my mother gave up meat in 1976 – and now she’s eighty pounds overweight and can’t walk, which is the path I was on before at 30!). Then I started experimenting with vegetables. I wouldn’t worry about trying to get the FDA recommendations in every day or anything like that. Just make sure you eat some kind of vegetable-based side-dish with your main meals – salad, wilted spinach, steamed broccoli, mashed cauliflower (a personal favorite – with enough butter it’s just like mashed potatoes!), roasted zucchini in olive oil – and maybe some berries at some point in the day (I usually either put mine in yogurt or salad). By the time you get to that point – which could take about five weeks – you should be getting use to the program and finding what works for you.
      A couple of weeks ago after watching my success, my boyfriend, who is probably the unhealthiest eater I have ever met over the age of ten, decided to give it a try. I’m still fighting him on a lot of issues – he doesn’t eat any vegetables, only the highest-sugar fruits, and he still drinks a sugary soda or sweet tea whenever we go out to eat – he has (more or less) eliminated wheat (he did have a flour tortilla one night because he didn’t realize it was wheat – gah!) and most processed foods, and he’s lost seven pounds. I have lost almost twenty so far and still counting (I have about sixty more to lose) but I feel like I’ve lost way more because I feel so much better. So if you can persevere and find what works for you, I PROMISE it is worth it.

      • LydTN

        I’d like to add that right before I started WB, despite my otherwise “healthy” lifelong habits, I had gotten to the point where vegetables actually MADE ME GAG, despite the fact that I actually LIKED VEGETABLES. My body craved refined carbs all the time, and they, along with cheese, were the only things it would be satisfied by. But satisfaction was always short lived, and I would be hungry within half an hour to an hour after I ate, no matter how large of a meal I had. Within days of eliminating wheat that all began to change. My appetite became much more manageable, and my body stopped rejecting healthy foods. Now it’s nothing for me to go nearly a full day between meals (having combined WB with Bulletproof intermittent fasting – believe me I’m not starving myself!) and then to just have some yogurt with berries. But you do have to completely re-frame the way you think of meals. I was a person who wanted to sit down to a real meal at least twice a day if not three times. Now most of my “meals” are more geared towards sustenance than pleasure (although I take great pleasure in my chile rellenos casserole, spinach fritata, and broiled salmon!). And I love it. Very rarely (usually accompanying PMS or a mild hangover – which is also rare) do I crave carbs anymore. And sometimes I’ll give in, but never to wheat.

  34. EA

    I have no words of wisdom, other then my wt loss has stopped at 6 lbs. two and a half months of no wheat/grains very little sugar, very few beans, tofu, cut down on dairy, but still eat butter, coconut oil, I do eat eggs and vegetables, nuts and seeds, low carbs, usually somewhere around 50 though the online program I use doesn’t count fiber content, so as far as “net” carbs go, it has to be lower since the nuts and vegetables I eat do have fiber content. I drink unsweetened green tea, 2 cups of organic decaf , lots of water and sparkling mineral water for a treat….I walk between 3-4 miles daily, garden, exercise, keep fit….no wt loss, same as the past 20 years of being on a low fat, high carbohydrate mainly vegetarian regime. The best thing I can say, is I have lost the fluctuations of weight….gain some, loose, gain, gain, loose….the wt is remarkable steady….I keep thinking one of these days things will change, but so far, not much. Inches are the same, wt the same….hard to not be discouraged when I have friends on weight watchers loosing weight every single week and meeting 40 lb goals, and then some when my weight loss plan isn’t showing results…

    • Farha Syed

      Try Culturelle or other probiotics out there that suit you. It helped me a great deal stomach feels much better.

  35. EB

    Hi all-

    I have been wheat free for a little less than a week now, keeping it to 20-30 net carbs a day and have GAINED two pounds. Has anyone had this problem? I have PCOS (a hormonal condition that makes it hard to lose weight), but I was hoping that going wheat free would make it easier to lose weight, especially because PCOS is similar to diabetes and is often treated with metformin or other glucose/insulin regulators. I figured if I cut the carbs for good, the weight would come off, but I’m confused as to why I have gained two pounds since starting. Do you think it is just too soon to tell? Could it be possible that I am eating too many calories?

    Here’s a normal day for me:

    Breakfast: 2 egg omelette with cheese, spinach and tomatoes
    Lunch: Big green salad with tunafish, caesar dressing, avocado and feta cheese (full fat)
    Dinner: Some protein, usually chicken or fish, salad with oil/vinegar and a green vegetable of some kind
    Snacks: Raw nuts, veggies/hummus
    On occasion I will also have a glass of red wine.

    Any thoughts? Would love some tips!

    • Dr. Davis

      In addition to the items in this post, EB, consider:

      1) Is there sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in your salad dressings?

      2) Alcohol turns off the ability to lose weight.

      3) Hypothyroidism is rampant. You will need a TSH, free T3, free T4, and reverse T3 for a full assessment. Even marginal degrees of hypothyroidism will block your capacity for weight loss.

      4) Beta blockers like metoprolol and some antidepressants can block your ability to lose weight.

      • EB

        Thank you Dr. Davis! I will try a week without wine and make an appointment with my endocrinologist to get my thyroid tested. I appreciate your quick response!

        • Faye

          I have also found that alcohol, for me in nearly any amount, causes edema in my legs and ankles for several days after imbibing. I’m paying for last weekend where I had a glass of wine one night and a cocktail with bourbon on the other. Weight increased 4 pounds overnight. So henceforth I’m off of alcohol and am trying to drink more water. I also have hypothyroidism, which may be inhibiting my progress, even though I take synthroid. But I feel better, happier, and am just hoping the weight will finally start dropping. I am actually getting alot done at work. I didn’t realize just how foggy I have been.

          Aside from the bourbon over the weekend, I have been really conscientious about eliminating wheat/grain and carbs. Good luck!

  36. KJ

    I started going “Gluten free” last Wednesday- (it will be a week tomorrow) to date I’ve already lost 6 lbs and all the aches and pains I normally feel in my shoulders, elbows and hips are just not there anymore. I normally have allergies of the sinus type too and my head has been clear as can be. Does this mean I had a Gluten intolerance for sure?

    • Dr. Davis

      If you’ve read the book, KJ, you know that MOST reactions to wheat are NOT gluten-intolerance.

      • Susan

        Yes, Dr. Davis does say it’s not JUST about gluten. Elaine Gottschall who has a book “Breaking The Vicious Cycle” (website: breakingtheviciouscycle.info) Ms Gottschall believed in Dr. Sidney V, Haas & Dr. John Howland did when he (Howland) gave a presidential address in 1921 before the American Pediatric Society, reading a paper on “Prolonged Intolerance to Carbohydrates”; the specific term “coeliac disease, or gluten disease was not used as those diseases with their symptoms were known by numerous names. It was these two Drs., and more specifically Dr. Sideny Haas who Elaine Gottschall turned to having a young female child about to do from the disease ulcerative colitis. So check out her website (see above) understanding it is like Dr. Davis has stated: CARBOHYDRATE is the problem for everyone. (see: scddiet.org/7archives/scdceli 1.html)

    • Dr. Davis recommends that your total daily net carb intake remain under 50 net grams…..12 to 15 net carbs per meal or 6 hour time frame. Net carbs = total carb value minus fiber content. Does that help?

      • > are blanched nuts same as raw

        No. Blanched nuts have their skins removed, and you need to know how that was done.

        Blanched nut flours may also have had significant amounts of oil removed by pressing, which isn’t necessarily a problem.

        When comparing to “raw”, you also need to know if the nuts in question are actually available really raw. Many are prohibited from sale if truly raw, and the sellers are allowed to lie about it (“raw” doesn’t mean raw).

    • > Can I have goat cheese?

      Sure, unless you have a dairy sensitivity that extends to goats.

      We’re about to buy some dwarf Nigerian milk goats specifically to get the benefits of goat milk vs. cow milk, not the least of which is a more favorable pH. We expect to make some cheese as well.

      • Barbara in New Jersey

        Hi Boundless,

        Raw cows milk from healthy cows doesn’t have the ph issues or any of the other lactose related issues that pasteurized milk has. It is the heating that kills off the “good” bacteria which is quite similar to those in the probiotics which we so carefully refrigerate.

        Keeping everything clean and properly stored is the big challenge. Since you have your own “facilities” that should not be a problem. I seem to remember that politics forced dairies with certified products to shut down in the 1960’s. These places had to meet certain published guidelines .

        Cream, butter, mozzarella, sour cream, cottage and other cheeses made from raw milk have an outstanding taste! Makes even the organic grass-fed, pastured products taste processed.

        Have you explored this avenue?

    • Susan

      Dear Abbey: Look up the word “casein” which is another “protein” that celiacs and others bodies system react to “gluten” also one of a # of other allergy “proteins”. Go to: notmilk.com and you’ll reason out for yourself that milk is really not beneficial for any human (and therefore, most if not all, cheese is not either). Also the Weston A. Price Foundation website has info about milk I think, and about soy. Good luck (please check out: breakingtheviciouscycle.info You will be amazed–and you can help others as well. Celiacs should NOT trust the University of Chicago even though they have an entire department dedicated to celiac disease. The University of Maryland absolutely does GET it just as Dr. Davis states in his book Wheat Belly (“Dangerous Grains” book excellent also). Good luck P.S. Paleo is probably the best way to eat I am thinking lately. Ephesians 2: 8 & 9, 10!