Your liver is fat

Wheat Belly Blog reader, Denise, posted this question:

My doctor has prescribed a low fat diet due to a barrage of tests that ended up showing I have a very fatty liver. I am overweight, have high blood pressure, IBS and acid reflux. In all the reading I have done on here, I keep seeing to add fats . . . healthy ones . . . to your daily eating. How do I eat these and also stick to a low fat diet to please my doctor? I am 59, female, and really need to try to get healthier.

Thanks, Denise

Sorry, Denise, but it’s not your job to please your doctor. It’s your job to do what’s right for your health. Sadly, your doctor is doing more harm than good.

A low-fat diet CAUSES fatty liver because cutting fat increases carbohydrate intake which, in turn, increases de novo lipogenesis, the conversion of carbohydrates to fats that are deposited in your liver.

In other words, feeding your liver more carbohydrates and less fat encourages the formation of triglycerides, some of which are released into the bloodstream as VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins), the rest of which remain in the liver. Triglycerides are fats, fats are triglycerides. As you eat more “healthy whole grains” and other foods that fit into a low-fat diet, your liver makes more triglycerides, your liver–along with your intestinal tract, pancreas, kidneys, and heart (percardial fat)–accumulates fat, gets larger, increases markers of liver damage like AST and ALT. Over many years, this can lead to cirrhosis, identical to the disease generated by excessive alcohol consumption (alcoholic cirrhosis).

If dietary fat is made of triglycerides, doesn’t this also cause fatty liver? No, because your liver’s capacity to manufacture fats outweighs your ability to consume fat. Fats in the diet do indeed increase triglyceride levels in the blood . . . a little bit. But carbohydrates in the diet increase triglycerides . . . a lot (though the effect is delayed for several hours, sufficient to allow de novo lipogenesis to proceed).

Your doctor prescribed a diet that is not only ineffective, but actually causes the problem it was meant to treat. This is like telling a smoker that he’s short of breath because he doesn’t smoke enough. Or telling an alcoholic that she’s woozy and uncoordinated because she’s not drinking enough bourbon. Your liver is fat because you eat too much fat? Wow.

And the “overweight, high blood pressure, IBS and acid reflux” you’re experiencing is highly likely to be a consequence of our favorite carbohydrate to bash: wheat. Lose the wheat, lose the weight, lose the hypertension, lose the IBS, lose the acid reflux . . . lose the fatty liver.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. EMR

    Many years ago, when I was about 28 (I am now 45), I had a doctor tell me I had a fatty liver. I was also a size 5 and thought I was in pretty good shape. I grew up with an Italian Mom who kept a garden and cooked from scratch, and by and large, I did the same. I shopped organically, I didn’t eat what I considered *garbage*. I was completely perplexed. Several years later, (age 35?) after having my second child, I ballooned, and I was told that my cholesterol was over 300. I was shocked, as I was still eating what I considered a healthy diet. At this point I was told to give up all meats, eggs, and fats by my Doctor, so I tried being a vegetarian. My cholesterol went UP from there and I continued to struggle. What on earth was going on??? I ran across a book at the health food store called The Fat Flush by Anne Louise Gittleman. There was a sticker on the cover which read *Liver Detox*. I thought back to the Doctor who had casually mentioned my fatty liver and started to read. I was pretty health conscious, but I had never done a detox. I ate all whole, real foods. I didn’t eat processed. I grew my own organic vegetables, I drank no coffee, or alcohol, but I was at a point in my life where I felt horrible all the time, sluggish, brain fog, no energy, I was gaining weight with seemingly no explanation, my skin was breaking out. I had nothing to lose. Gittleman took all wheat (!!!!) and other carbs such as corn and rice, etc.., sugar, and dairy out of my diet for about 2 weeks. It was difficult for about the first 6 days when my body seemed to be rebelling with mostly headaches. Then the most amazing thing happened….it all stopped and I felt like a new human being. I hadn’t felt like this since I was 5 years old. On top of all of that, I lost some 30 lbs. in about 6 weeks (until this point in my life, I’d never had 30 lbs to lose before!). My husband used to say I was *melting*. My cholesterol plunged to 140, my blood pressure was really low, and my liver was clearing itself out. She talked a LOT about our livers, and how important they are in every function of our bodies. I read once that the Chinese consider the liver the most important organ. She also said that most Americans have fatty livers. I learned something very important from that book, 10 whole years ago now….IT WAS THE WHEAT. I even had a Doctor YELL at me that a vegetarian diet was the ONLY diet that I should be eating (with whole wheats and grains) and that my Fat Flush diet of lean meats, eggs, and vegetables would make my cholesterol rise and kill me.

    Thank God for Dr. Davis and Wheat Belly, who has gone on to explain the WHY behind it all…the reason it works…because until now no one believed me, or they would just say I must have *celiac* but THEY don’t.
    PLEASE trust this. If your body is struggling as much as it is, you don’t have anything to lose by trying it for a few weeks.

    • Dr. Davis

      I personally went through something similar many years ago, EMR.

      Unfortunately, most of my colleagues have not yet learned these lessons.

  2. Precisely Eric. If one were to follows the advice of the The American College of Gastroenterology they will tell you to do exactly the following:
    1. Weight reduction (diet + exercise, medications, surgery)
    2. Lipid lowering medications
    3. Insulin sensitizers (medications)
    They obviously therefore only want to treat symptoms and not alleviate the cause of the fatty liver which is, as Dr. Davis points out, requires one to drastically cutting back on carbohydrates. Hopefully Denise will find a doctor who understands this.

    • Dr. Davis

      Thanks for pointing that out, Aerobic.

      Follow the revenue stream, eh? This advice is as lame as that of the American Diabetes Association to cut your fats, eat more healthy whole grains, and include 45-60 grams carbohydrates per meal.

      Scary stuff.

  3. Terri

    Great article. A few years ago I took the diet drug xenical. It blocks the fat you eat from being absorbed into your body. Oddly, afterwards, I was diagnosed with fatty liver disease. I decided to change the way I ate. I originally started doing Atkins and then switched to a Paleo lifestyle of eating. Since changing my diet to eating more fat, vegetables and protein, eating less carbs (NO grains) and no sugars I managed to shrink my liver one inch. I lost 45 pounds and feel so much better. Blood tests and an ultrasound of my liver confirm I am on the right track to gaining my health back. I too also suffered from acid reflux and it is no longer an issue. Goodluck Denise!

      • Terri

        Thank you Dr. Davis. I’m glad Wheat Belly has a link on Facebook. After hearing so much about Wheat Belly, I went out and bought your book. It’s inspirational and I cannot tell people enough about how it’s changed my life. I will be 48 on Wednesday and after being diagnosed with adult asthma in my 30’s, idiopathic thrombocytic pupurra, poor concentration, high blood pressure, fatty liver, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis to name a few….I am slowly recovering after eliminating grains and sugar from my diet. I weaned myself off 90% of my prescription drugs and life couldn’t be better. Happy Birthday to me!

        • Dr. Davis

          That’s terrific, Terri!

          90% of your meds gone? I’d love to hear the entire story!

  4. Little Sister

    I’ve think a lot about the deterioration of my health over the last 15-20 years. Generally, I always tended to very low carb diets, at least until the late ’80s, early ’90s, when high carb, low fat was the thing to do. I read all the research, thought it made a lot of sense, and then there were all those no fat Entenmann’s treats, right?

    In 1993, diagnosed with high blood pressure. Mid ’90s, high cholesterol. Early 2000s, fatty liver. Mid 2000s, developed a high fasting glucose. 2007-2010, fast onset and severe deterioration as a result of osteoarthritis. 2011, severe, all over body pain for which there was no possible explanation. Doctor said “start up pain,” but it was hardly start-up, it was all day, all night, severely limiting pain that left me so debilitated I could barely walk from my chair to the bathroom.

    This is my three week Wheat-Free Birthday, and the changes are remarkable. HBP normalized (it was creeping up, even with meds), shrinking overall, raging appetite and craving for sweets gone, PAIN diminished by probably 80-90%, able to walk without thought, up and down all day with boundless energy, still using crutches, but only for long distances, blood sugar normal at every check (100 or below), and I swear, the eating disorder I’ve believed I had all of my life has gone *poof*. Where is it? That insatiable urge to eat? The craving for food? The inability to say no? The constant hunger? It’s gone. It’s magic.

    I knew without a doubt a month ago that the only thing on the horizon for me was continued deterioration. Diabetes, for sure. More meds to control the blood pressure, muscle wasting due to lack of exercise because of the pain. I couldn’t sleep, had no energy, and was overwhelmed by the hopelessness of it all that I felt 80 years old at 54. This is a miracle. I tell everyone I meet and now I am looking forward to every day because I know that there is only continued improvement on the horizon, as long as I (effortlessly) stay away from the poisons of grains and starchy foods.

    • aerobic1

      I know what you mean Little Sister. I got “Ornished” in the 80’s and 90’s and had the same issues you experienced. All is better now. Denise’s nonalcoholic fatty liver disease will improve; if not totally normalize, with the proper diet. Her only “side effect” may be they she will need to buy new clothes to match her new physique.

    • Rong

      WOW! Little Sister that is an amazing story. I haven’t shared in all of that thankfully but I did get diabetes by following the advice of the government’s diet recommendations for 25 years. The part of your story that really struck a cord with me is the appetite. For more than a year, I have been seriously, no compromise, low carb. However, it was a real struggle until I eliminated grains from my diet. I have added some fruit back in its place like berries, peaches, apple or pare. The fruit is limited to no more than two small servings a day. I have to literally make myself eat and plan time for meals. Sometimes I may miss a meal and not realize it for hours and only then because of some reminder other than hunger. For me, grain free has been an amazing breakthrough in appetite suppression. To stay on any diet, having a reduced appetite is essential. I am convinced after more than six months of no grains my 33 pound weight loss and glucose reduction are permanent. If you don’t crave food you don’t miss it.

    • Dr. Davis

      Terrific, Little Sister! And that’s just three weeks?

      Could I interest you in telling your whole story in detail for my new Wheat Belly Cookbook? If so, please say so here and I will contact.

      • Little Sister

        Your book has turned my life around. I would be happy to share my whole story with you.

        • Dr. Davis


          I will email you, Little Sister. (Your email is automatically posted by this blog software when you make a comment.)

  5. Nancy

    I had a similar experience. In the past my lab numbers have always been pretty good (except for vitamin D, which tends to stay low and need supplementation), but this last year the fatty liver and blood glucose numbers have stayed a bit high . The doctor’s advice: low carb, low fat. Glad I read Wheat Belly and a few other books before starting out, because low carb low fat would be hard to do and detrimental to good health, IMO. The problem with high fat is conditioning. I grew up low-fat vegetarian, and every time I reach for something with fat I can see my dear departed mother pursing her lips in disapproval ; )

  6. Pam

    Exactly what happened to me, after eating low fat, high carb. I went on higher fat, low carb, WB way of eating and in 6 months when I went back to the doctor she said “Let’s see about your fatty liver enzymes.” She turned the pages of my lab tests, looked back and forth and then said “hmmm, your fatty liver is gone.” Still didn’t agree with the way I am eating, even though my HbA1C went from 9.9 to 6.5, but hey like Dr. Davis said, you have to do things for YOUR health.

    • Dr. Davis

      I find that incredible, Pam, that you are nearly CURED of diabetes, but your doctor still doesn’t get it. What has to happen for her to “get” it? How much plainer can it be?

      Anyway, good for you!

  7. Tracey

    I just found a great website, http://www.primaldocs. It’s a listing of doctors (MDs) who help their patients with primal nutrition (aka “paleo”) and all of the principals that Dr. Davis talks about. If there is not one in your area, you may be able to work with one of them remotely by sending them your records and consulting over the phone and via email. Most “typical” doctors are not going to be much more helpful than your current one.

    Another place to get good info on what Dr. Davis is discussing is They have a very specific 30-day eating plan challenge and people that are taking it are actually posting their bloodwork results after the 30-day challenge on the blog. It’s good stuff. Check it out!

    • anthony
      FWIW, since our return from Paris 9/18/11, now completely wheat/grain/starch free, 158.6# and this AM 9.8% body fat. BP, however, still hovers in the 130’s/high 80’s-low 90’s.

    • Thanks for the link, Tracy. There’s actually a doctor (naturopath, of course) listed in a town only 1/2 hour drive from me. Maybe I will finally be able to get my thyroid disease treated properly! Yea!
      Reading these posts is like hearing my own story told over and over with slight variations. I wonder what it must feel like to have made such a powerful, positive change possible for so many people. I feel, literally, we owe you our lives, Dr. D. The other thing, for which I am so grateful, is getting to have hope again, feeling that I have some ability to control my own health and well-being. I can’t thank you enough.

      • Dr. Davis

        Yes, hope, honesty, hearing things that make sense and really work.

        Funny that they are novel concepts in a modern world!

  8. Lissa

    While I fully, totally, wholeheartedly agree that we should not seek to please our doctors and instead should seek to do what we know is right for our health, there does need to be a caveat to this. Your doctor can dismiss you as a patient for not following his or her orders. This in itself may not be a bad thing if your doctor is giving you bad advice, but you should be prepared for this to happen.

    This happened to me because I refused to go along with my nurse practitioner’s arbitrary limit on how much thyroid medication I take. I am now in a position of having to self-treat based on information I get from places such as and Dr Lowe’s web site and other doctors that have web sites with such information. I order my medication from another country in which prescriptions are not needed. (Yes, it is legal … for now). I am trying to find another caregiver but it is not easy, as most doctors are stuck in rigid protocols that do not allow for innovative treatments and thinking outside of the box. Between insurance regulations and medical board protocols, their hands are tied, even when they want to try something different.

    • Dr. Davis

      You are an early adopter, Lissa.

      I predict that what you are doing will become increasing common in the coming years: Taking your personal health by the horns and managing it by yourself with the assistance of health advocates.

      My colleagues worry that people will do stupid things and hurt themselves. My experience is that health is dramatically better when people do this.

    • Rong

      My wife suffered the same experience as you Lissa and interestingly her name is Lisa. The only difference is that she kept firing doctors not the other way round. She is an RN and has a low tolerance for doctors that don’t listen. Anyway, she found She works with them over the phone as we don’t live in Boca where his offices are. If they aren’t close to you maybe a referral in your area could be gotten.

  9. Terry May

    Ditto to Pam: I started with W.B. 4 months ago. I went off insulin injections and/or any diabetes medication on February 22/12. My lab bloodwork done March 2/12 resulted in an A1C of 6.0 mmol/L which is in a non-diabetic range overall. My total cholesterol and ratio was excellent. The best bloodwork in over a decade. I have now lost 45 pounds- most of it visceral belly fat (which has been trimmed by 6 inches). What could they say? But some still raise that concerned eyebrow. “You’re not eating ‘fats’ are you?”

    Denise… I “took the bull by the horns” and then showed them the results. Everyone has to make their own choices, but I got sick of the advice treadmill that just did not work. My former physician re-filled my prescriptions and made me feel like my fate was sealed. Kind of like…”the best you can do is learn to live with it.”… Not any more!

    Wheatless in Canada

    • Dr. Davis


      Would you be willing to relate your story in detail so that I could include it in the Wheat Belly Cookbook I am currently putting together?

      I need some compelling success stories and your story of conquering diabetes is a wonderful one to relate.

      If so, please let me know here.

    • I just wish I could get my blood sugar to read normal. I am eating low carbs and higher fat even though it scares me to death because I have been preached to for sooooooo long that I am eating too much fat. My liver enzymes were up and have been up for a few years now and I always worry about that because I don’t want to lose my liver. Needless to say I can’t go to the Dr. and ask for help because he’s going to flip out that I am eating MORE fat and my blood sugar is running too high now even though I am eating so low in carbs. BUT I really am thinking this new meter is messed up and thinking about going to the Dr.’s office and getting them to check my sugar and then me check it on this meter to see IF it’s reading right. OR if they can check it in some other way. BUT I don’t want him putting me on a higher dosage of blood sugar meds! UGHH So I don’t know WHAT to do!

      • Rose: Just go to the nearest pharmacy or chain drug store and get another one, the glucometers are cheap, it’s the strips & lancettes that are expensive because the manufacturers discount the price of the meter to get them into the hands of the public, then they make up for the loss by repeat sales of the supplies.

        Also, I posted on my Twitter page back on Feb. 2 that everyone that uses a glucose meter should know that, according to Wikipedia, Fingerstick glucose meters are only warranted to be accurate to within 15% of laboratory value under optimal conditions. Click this link to see the page –>

      • Susan

        I agree, there is a large difference between meters. My cheap Target meter has been reading really high lately. It has had me really concerned. But then, yesterday I compared that meter to my husband’s One Touch meter. Testing the same drop of blood, the Target meter read 127 while the One Touch read 98. Later, the Target meter read 105 and the One Touch read 88. I’ve been dreading going to the doctor for my upcoming physical because of the high readings I’ve been getting with the Target meter, but I’m going to relax a little. Wish I could use the One Touch all the time, but the difference in cost on the strips is just ridiculous.

  10. NH Sue

    Oh my goodness, this blog is too exciting! I am in my 60’s, grossly overweight and in need of new knees due to no cartilage. Surgeon wants me to lose 60 pounds before considering surgery. Four weeks ago I found the book, Wheat Belly, and since it’s an approach I’ve never tried before, I decided to plunge in by giving up breads and pastas. The immediate result I expected was weight loss (12 pounds so far), but never really imagined that my acid reflux would go away, and that I could exist on vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits, and categorically never be hungry! Had blood tests after 2 weeks for an annual physical, and for the first time since we started tracking liver enzymes they were normal. My daily challenge is to find interesting ways to consume good tasting foods, without mounting them on bread or pasta first. I know I am a neophyte here, but I really feel like I have discovered an approach that is going to change my life for the better in many respects. Thank you for all the encouraging posts.

  11. Bob

    I proved it to myself that fatty liver is caused by eating too much wheat, grains, and sugar. Summer of 2009 I had very high liver enzymes. That year I eat lots of carbs from wheat and eat lots of sugar due to running long distances. My PCP said it can be caused from my supplements particularly niacin, so he had me get off all my supplements. The liver test enzymes came down some but not enough. He then had an ultrasound done on my liver. Results: high fatty liver. He was baffled and didn’t know what to do about it. Later in 2010 when I joined the Dr Davis’ Track Your Plaque program I got on the no wheat low carb diet. Guess what? My liver enzymes has been good ever since even at higher niacin levels I had in 2010 including on Crestor. Medicine that work the liver is not the many cause of high liver enzymes, maybe some, but not the main cause! So b/c of this diet it allowed me to take important medicine to control my heart disease. Thank God for no wheat!

  12. no grainy 60

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I have been wheat and grain free since finding your blog and reading your book 8 weeks ago. I had coronary bypass at age 43, 3 heart attacks and a total of 13 stent placements. I have felt like I was 100 years old for many years. In the 8 weeks on your program, I have lost 10 pounds and feel wonderful. My joints no longer ache, my back doesn’t hurt, and my energy level has improved greatly. I no longer have swelling in my feet or ankles. I feel like a new person. I am eating very healthy now and stay clear of the low fat whole grain train that I have preached to for many years. I can’t thank you enough for giving me all this great information. I can’t wait to see my cardiologist in July.

  13. Mary

    I can attest to the fact that you have to do what’s right for your own health. I too was a type II diabetic taking daily dose of metformin, following the ADA diet, and gaining weight and losing blood sugar control every day and suffering the ups and downs of poor control (incredible fatigue to the point of having to put my head down on my desk at work, depression, mood swings, hunger and out-of-control cravings). I tried really hard to follow ADA advice, believing I was the one to blame if blood sugars were out of control or that I needed more medication. But then I started reading Wheat Belly. And after going wheat-free I was finally able to successfully transition to low carb, which has essentially cured my diabetes. I am off all drugs and the feelings of energy and stability have been great! I did not consult my doctor before doing this. Why introduce another hassle into my life, I figured. Sadly, I felt I really needed to only have supportive voices to listen to, and my doctor was not in that camp. I figured I’d give it a try and see what happened. It worked!! So, now I have proof for myself that I can be healthy, no diabetes drugs needed. Thanks to all the encouragement on this blog and Dr. Davis’ awesome book, I can now live a healthy, diabetes-free life!

    • Terry May

      Ditto Mary: Thanks for your story; it helps me to realize that I’m not dreaming. There is more of us out there experiencing amazing results. Congratulations!

      Wheatless in Canada

  14. Lolly

    I’ve now gone more than 4 weeks without eating a single particle of wheat or other grain and followed the Wheat Belly way of eating very closely and avoided starchy carbs. I’ve lost only 3-5 lbs, (keeps going up and down) far less than what I need to lose. I drink half my weight in water, and I take excellent quality fish oil capsules. I feel a lot better, have no cravings and enjoy a much better level of energy. But when I read about someone losing 20-30 lbs in the same amount of time, I’m so envious because I had such high hopes that I’d have the same results. Maybe it’s because I didn’t eat much wheat or grains to begin with, so the difference wasn’t that great. I just had blood work done and my thyroid levels are all good, so that doesn’t seem to be the problem. Will it eventually kick in and start losing weight? I’ve read just about everything on the website and don’t have a clue as to why I’m not losing weight. It’s frustrating!

    • aerobic1

      It’s not just about the wheat and grains per se; although it is the major contributing factor to increased weight. It’s all refined carbs like sugar, starches, snack chips, excess fruit, potatoes, cereals, bread coated foods (onion rings, breaded pork chops, battered fish, fried chicken, etc.). Even translucent rice paper that wraps a Japanese spring roll can be a major problem. Be diligent and you will see gains (I meant losses). Keep your carbs at 15 grams per meal. That is hard to do at first but once you learn how to do it that becomes an easy habit after that. Do not give up and be patient.

      • Terry May

        Yes Lolly… aerobic 1 gives you good advice. My wife has lost half the weight that I have in the same period of time. But we encourage one another. It’s not a competition. Stay on course, tweak, learn and adjust. Associate with people who encourage you. Best regards to you!

        • Mary

          Don’t worry Lolly,
          I know it is frustrating to lose slowly. I have been wheat-free and grain-free for 10 weeks now and I have lost 10 pounds. Not that impressive when I hear other stories and results. But if you are losing, then consider yourself on the right track. It can be slow going and frustrating at times. But focus on what you have done to change longstanding habits, improve overall health, and feel better. These are real results that ultimately make your life better. The weight will come off. Focus on the good that you have done so far. Eliminating wheat is huge and in itself is a victory. Keep on going and you will continue to see improvements and slow but steady weight loss, inches lost, better blood sugar numbers and cholesterol numbers. My husband has lost more than me by far and he has much more tolerance for carbs in general. So life isn’t fair that way. But we also encourage eachother and try to just keep up good habits. They always pay off.

    • Lolly, you didn’t mention if you are eating plenty of good fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, full fat dairy, etc.) and the amount and type of protein you consume may also be a factor. I, like many, found it difficult to do a 180 degree turn in my thinking regarding fats. Because of reading WB I had no trouble understanding and accepting the truth about carbs and wheat in particular, being a huge deterrent to health and weight loss. I garnered some of my new thinking about fat consumption from reading various blogs and the WB FB page. So, I did an experiment on myself. During the week of my 61st birthday, I consumed: 1/2 a low carb coconut cream pie with 2 inches of whipped cream on top, an entire wheel of goat’s milk brie, low carb pizza with pork sausage and mozzarella, pork sausage for breakfast every day, tons of eggs (I didn’t keep track), coconut oil in every hot beverage I drank, three avocados. Those are just a few of the things I consumed with lots of fats. My average daily fat intake was over 100g and my average daily carb intake was between 25 and 50g. I lost 4 lbs that week. That was when I truly stopped fearing fat. My husband delights in telling people this story to illustrate our new wheatless, LCHF way of life. He has lost 11 lbs in 2 months. I’ve lost 30 eating a nearly identical diet, so yes, different bodies respond very differently. Also, I can attest from personal experience that having a doctor tell you that your thyroid levels are ‘good’ may not mean anything at all. I was told that mine were good when my TSH was 5, but I can’t function normally unless they are down to 1 or less.

      • Terry May

        Hey Grace: Nice to see your post! Yes…ironic isn’t it. I too have received the best bloodwork results in over 10 years by eating in ways that “fly in the face” of mainstream “healthy” advice that I received for years. It looks like you and I are in the same age cohort. I have not felt this good in a long time. Stay on track and God bless.

        Wheatless in Canada,

      • Dr. Davis

        A wonderful explanation, Grace!

        The power of thyroid is astounding, once managed properly. That has been precisely my experience, too.

  15. Lolly

    Thank you for your encouragement. Believe me, I haven’t eaten any of that stuff. No processed food at all! Just fresh vegetables that I’ve steamed myself, meat, olive oil, nuts, etc. as mentioned in the book. Some dairy, but I’ve even had tummy troubles with that. No sugar. Really, I’m eating only what I should be eating! I’m not giving up, and I won’t. I’d just like to lose lots of weight because I need to for my health.

    • aerobic1

      Lolly: Be a label reader too as there are many hidden land mines of carbs everywhere. No fruit juice (6 teaspoons of sugar per cup of OJ). A cup of milk has 8 grams of lactose (2 teaspoons of sugar!). Yogurt with added fruit can have 7 teaspoons of sugar. A tablespoon of catsup has a more than a teaspoon of sugar. It adds up really quick. Keep out of restaurants as one carb loaded meal (bread basket, pasta, potato, dessert, etc.) can set you back weeks!

  16. Lolly

    Aerobic1—-Thanks again for your help. The things you listed aren’t on the approved WB list and I haven’t eaten them. No dressings, no condiments, no yogurt w/ fruit, no juice, no bread, no crackers, breading——none of it. I am well aware of labels and all the things that contain wheat and sugar. I’ve had no prepared foods. At all. Just pure, simple meat and vegetables and berries (no sugar) and plain Greek yogurt. There are no labels involved. See? It’s crazy that I haven’t lost weight. But I will persevere and hopefully I’ll lose some weight.

    • Lolly you are NOT alone. I haven’t lost an ounce after going low carb a year ago January and wheat free last September when I read Dr. D’s book.

      Someone post a link to Jack Kruse’s site ( and I have been trying to follow his leptin reset. Still no loss but … BUT … I haven’t gained an ounce since last summer which is, in and of itself, a minor miracle.

      I think some of us have such long lasting issues it just takes longer. I haven’t given up. I’m now trying his cold thermogeneisis protocol. SOMETHING is gonna give, LOL. And it won’t be me!

      • Lolly

        Good going, Grace! You’ve had fantastic results! Maybe my TSH isn’t so good after all. It’s 3.12 uIU/mL. Would that keep me from losing weight? Also, from what you write, I’m probably not eating enough fat. It’s that long-standing fat fear thing! I use olive oil liberally, but although I love it, I have a very unfortunate allergy to avocado. I’ll make a bolder step into the good fat category and see what happens. Like Mary (above) said, I’m on the right track so little by little the weight will eventually go. I feel so much better already, I am not about to start eating wheat and grains again!

        Thanks, everyone for your encouragement! It will be fun to be able to give a good update in a few weeks.

          • Lolly

            Grace—-yes, that would be me! I’ve low carbed before and lost weight. It wasn’t easy, but I lost about 30 lbs, then quit losing, and it piled right back on. I was still eating some wheat and whole grains though, thinking I needed them. Ha. Dropping the wheat, grains, sugar, etc. completely has made a huge difference in how I feel, and although I haven’t lost very much weight, I feel ‘lighter’ and more energetic. I really believe the weight loss will eventually come, albeit slowly. Who knows, maybe it will even speed up once my body knows I mean business! ;-)

  17. Sharon

    I used to think I didn’t eat as much as my husband in a day’s time — he was a truck driver, 6’4″ and weighs about 180 lbs. I’m 5’6″ and weighed way more than he did and thought I was more active than him. I am so grateful for Wheat Belly and Dr. Davis! I’ve lost 16 lbs since Ash Wednesday, haven’t had any wheat at all. I still enjoy dinner at home with my husband and can eat out now without drooling at the bread on the table. I’m learning what things to eat and what to stay away from. This is such a wonderful life-changing experience! I feel better all over, inside and out! If you haven’t lost any weight, don’t get discouraged! Keep at it – I’ve got some more to lose but now I understand that I have to do this for myself – there’s no magic pill, no special drink, nothing to shake on my foods, that will be a quick fix for me. Although I may not have been eating as much as my husband in a day, I was not eating the right things – a habit I will not go back to! “Wheat Belly” is at my fingertips for whenever I question if I want to eat something I’m not sure about. God bless ya, Dr. Davis!!

    • Dr. Davis

      Excellent, Sharon!

      You can see that this is about taking back control over appetite and health after years of being fed half-truths and outright nonsense that booby trapped health. It is truly liberating!

  18. Linda Olson

    Isn’t it funny how much power that little metal spring thing (AKA the SCALE) has over us. There are so many other numbers that mean so much more, like HgA1c (diabetes test) going from 6.4 to 5.9, Cholesterol going from 206 to 125, blood pressure going from 140/80 on medication to 106/70 off medication. But I’m with everyone else, I want to see those numbers go down!
    I learned something interesting last week. I have been seeing an integrative physician and his holistic nutritionist. They did testing for other food sensitivities, and I found out that I am sensitive to dairy and eggs, including a major sensitivity to yogurt (which I was eating daily). They said that they see this in about 80% of clients that also need to eliminate gluten/wheat, and that this can stall weight loss also.
    So I’m reminding myself of my successes: I’m off 4 medications (GERD, hypertension and cholesterol meds); my risk for diabetes is much less; I’m off wheat/grains for 4 months, starting to eliminate cheese, yogurt, actually all dairy and eggs from my diet; my arthritis pain is better; my skin is better; I’ve lost 11 inches from my waist; and I HAVE NO FOOD CRAVINGS. I have proved to myself that I am not an un-self disciplined, will-powerless defective person who just can’t say no to the call of donuts, even though it was killing me. I’m now down 12 pounds or so (depending on the day), 8 of which I lost in the first few weeks, which I am very grateful for, but that is not the only thing I’m working towards. I want health that will carry me well into the next 30-40 years of my life (I’m 61 now).
    There are several other factors that go into weight loss that Dr. Davis has mentioned, thyroid being one of them. The other thing that I’m interested in learning more about is what I think Dr. Davis called “leptin insensitivity” (or something like that) in his book. He also mentioned circadian cycle/cortisol disruption in a post recently. All this boils down to sleep, I think. Could poor sleep also be creating problems like stalled weight loss? The body certainly is a very complex thing. Nothing is as simple as “calories in/calories out”!

    • Dr. Davis

      Terrific stuff, Linda! The 11 inches lost on the waist is incredible!

      Sleep is indeed a powerful inhibitor of weight loss. It activates “stress hormones” cortisol and adrenaline, both of which screw up insulin and weight loss. Before you resort to fairly exotic testing like salivary cortisols, I would try to get a full night’s sleep at least every other day.

      • Tyrannocaster

        For some of us, that is just flat-out easier said than done. I almost NEVER sleep for more than six hours and sometimes get as little as four. This is not because of a busy schedule or job pressure; fact is, I just CAN’T sleep longer. I wake up at about 2-3 AM no matter what, and a cortisol test taken four times in the day reflects this. But nobody (so far) has given me any advice that makes a difference on what to do about it. It doesn’t do any good to tell people to get more sleep when they are already trying. It just makes them feel worse about it. I read a long post on Mark’s Daily Apple where he really yelled at those of us who don’t get enough sleep because “that’s the only thing we will listen to” – and honestly, it pissed me off. I’m trying, dude! It’s not a simple as “Just get more sleep” for many of us. I wish it were. I don’t drink coffee, I follow all the typical advice about how to sleep longer, and none of it makes any difference.

        • Lolly

          Tyrannocaster, I don’t know if this will be of any help to you, but because I was sleeping so poorly I started taking 1000 mg of calcium and 500 mg of magnesium at night before going to bed. It has made a huge difference in my ability to stay asleep, as well as giving me a much more restful, deep sleep. It won’t hurt to give it a try. Hope it helps you too.

          • Tyrannocaster

            Thanks, Karen, but I’m already doing that. I have tried everything I can find for the sleep issue and so far nothing works.

          • Uncle Roscoe

            Tyrannocaster, I think we can both find an explanation here, if not a cure:


            The orexin/hypocretin system goes way back in human evolution. The body has 3 states: Eat, Rest, and Exert. Each of these states requires different combinations of organs and systems.

            The orexin system is centered in the brain’s hypothalamus …..the brain’s chemical control center. The hypothalamus receives signals concerning which state to place the body in. Then the hypothalamus sends signals via the orexin system to individual organs to turn them on or off. Each organ has nerve transduction boundaries which throttle organ function. The orexin nerve endings sit in these transduction boundaries. Orexin nerve endings exude specialized chemicals which alternately enhance or defeat transduction signaling, and thereby control organ function.

            Transduction nerves and orexin nerves function via potassium channels. These potassium channels can be attacked by ingested proteins like the ones in wheat, by nerve viruses like herpes simplex and Epstein Barr, and by the immune system in response to one of these antigens. These attacks can come at either end of the orexin system, at organs or at the hypothalamus.

        • Uncle Roscoe

          Tyranocaster, I have some related problems, so I’ve been researching……

          There are two pathways to sleep. I outlined the orexin/hypocretin pathway. The orexin system makes body systems comply with sleep. The other pathway is melatonin. Melatonin causes people to get sleepy. Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland. The pineal gland lies in the low back center of the brain. Melatonin secretion is heavily related to daylight cycles. Daylight cycles and melatonin release are both throttled by ingestion of lutein and zeaxanthin. Excess blue light is harmful to the eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin (L and Z) are dyes which line the retina, and block out blue light. L and Z are virtually identical twins. L and Z are polyphenol aldehydes. Lutein tends to have more aldehyde properties, and zeaxanthin tends to have more polyphenol dye properties. Some people collect and use L and Z properly. Some people over-collect L and Z, and some people under-collect them. Some people are intolerant of A and Z. Some intolerant people make antibodies which attack and remove lutein and zeaxanthin. For example 85% of autistic children have antibodies to L and Z. When the body makes antibodies to antigens like L and Z it usually 1) invokes lots of inflammation, and 2) makes antibodies against the affected tissues. The effects of lutein and zeaxanthin are vastly under-studied, but it’s easy to see how the body’s reaction to these chemicals can cause bad sleep disturbances.

          Lutein comprises about 1.5 % of yellow corn and egg yolk, the highest lutein concentrations among all foods:

          Yellow corn and egg yolks make me ill, and leave me awake all night.

          • Tina

            Not to sound like I am over simplifying but try yoga. It’s not aa overnight, quickie fix usually but it’s positive effects can be felt after one practice. I teach therapeutic yoga and would recommend a gentle class. I suffered from sleeplessness caused by hormonal fluctuations, medications ,etc. due to treatment for breast cancer. It took several months to get back into a regular sleep rhythm. Yoga really helped me along with lots of prayer. If you don’t have access to yoga teachers try Choose a gentle or restorative practice to get your mind settled. Many hugs to you!!!


  19. NancyMc

    @ Tyrannocaster – I feel ya! I literally went 20 years like that, its miserable. I never slept more than 3 hrs in a row, that’s WHEN I could actually sleep. I happened on something a couple years back that has been miraculous for me. I take d-ribose powder at bedtime (1 scoop-5grams) along with 600 mg of magnesium (capsules or liquid, no tablets) and I don’t know why it works exactly, but it does. My husband gets the same result as does everyone I have shared it with. I suspect it relaxes your muscles enough to stay in a deeper sleep. I hope you will try it and get some relief! I get mine from Vitamin Shoppe.
    @ Denise- I am excited to tell you that my husband REVERSED his fatty liver that had actually progressed to cirrhosis. The liver specialist was stunned that he did not drink and had not one risk factor for it. I could not believe it when he was diagnosed and set out to fix it with diet. We had been low fat vegetarians for a couple decades and were still fat and sick. Never felt any better or lost any weight until we began eating healthy animal protein and fat and eliminated grains. There is a definite link to grain (especially wheat) and high fructose corn syrup in liver disease. I researched it thoroughly and after we ate grain free and low carb he lost 85 lbs and his enzymes went to normal, along with causing his BP, AIC, triglicerides and cholesterol returned to normal!!!! I also put him on supplements to heal the liver. It worked! The doc said, I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it! We only eat low starch veggies, meat, coconut and olive oil, berries, a few raw nuts, eggs,Kerrygold butter, a little white cheddar and heavy cream in coffee with stevia. (I CAN’T give up my sweet white coffee, haha) and herbal tea in the evening with stevia (NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia is the only one we like)
    The difference in how you will feel is phenomenol. The carbs raise your insulin, which in turn raise all your labs and BP.
    Frankly, we paid little or no attention to what the doctor said as they offered no hope. Dr Davis is a rare exception!
    If we had followed their instructions years ago, I believe my husband would have had liver failure by now. Take your health power back! You are your own best advocate ;-)

    • NancyMc

      P. S. Dr. Davis- I’ve been posting a while as just “Nancy” ( I’m the one who was grain free for 3 years then fell off the wagon and messed myself up!) but there seems to be more Nancys now so I changed my name to NancyMc !

  20. Nowheatforme

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    What are your thoughts regarding coconut palm sugar? Dr. Oz says it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels but we’ve received so much well intentioned bad information over the years that it makes me wonder. We switched to erythritrol several weeks ago but am wondering if it is safe.

    • Dr. Davis

      Erythritol is perfectly safe, Nowheat.

      Last I checked, coconut palm sugar was a source of fructose, a common tripping point for many of these “sugar substitutes.”

    • Noel

      I just read an interesting article from a cooperative coconut producer regarding coconut palm sugar. While it is lower on the glycemic index than cane sugar, it is still quite high, so the benefits are negligible. However, due to the increased demand created by the “sugar substitute” industry, it is becoming a profitable sideline for coconut producers. As demand for this sugar is increasing, the extraction of the sap is lowering the amount of fruit available from the plant, thereby increasing the cost of coconuts, coconut oil, coconut flour, etc. They also estimate that, if current trends continue, it would take 15-20 years for producers to increase their crop sizes to meet the demands, so we’d better be careful what we ask for.

  21. Karen

    I believe a low carb system is healthy, but since those high carb eaters in the Blue Zone live into their 100’s without disability – there must be 2 healthy ways of living. Can you please elaborate on this… Could it merely be that adding flour/sugar is the culprit? Or that combining saturated fat with any sugars is the culprit? I have asked this in a past post – and would really like to know your thoughts on this.

      • Karen

        Hi Dr. Davis,
        I read the book a long time ago – but don’t eat like it … I prefer your meals. I just want to comprehend WHAT is the differentiating factors for living great low carb for those in the blue zone ( ) and eating low carb?
        Best guess is with saturated fat = MUST AVOID anything sugar like or you balloon up. However, Without saturated fat seems one can eat tons of carbs (unrefined and all natural) and not gain so much weight.
        I wish either you or Dr. Taubes would research this – or someone. I was just curious if you knew or if you would be able to try and figure it out.

  22. Mellinda

    Tyronnacaster, what about Melatonin? I started out with the smallest dose: 1 mg. I take it 1/2 hour before bed and sleep very soundly with this small dosage. I suppose if this dosage did not work, I could increase it by taking more, but that has not been the case with me. I also don’t take it every day, maybe a few times a week. Any side effects of Melatonin, Dr Davis?

    • Tyrannocaster

      Melatonin hasn’t helped either, unfortunately. Nothing has. I’ve tried every supplement my naturopath could come up with, I’ve tried Earthing (I’m skeptical but I’ll TRY anything once) and that didn’t help, I exercise, and I don’t have job pressures because thanks to the problems caused by wheat I retired about six years ago. But since Halloween, when I dropped wheat, I’ve really made a turnaround in all areas…except for sleep.

      • NancyMc

        Tyro- :)
        Did you see what I posted above for sleep? Like you said, you’ll try anything! It makes a world of difference for me. I have gone on and off many times as I just couldn’t believe it was that working so well! It never fails me :)

      • Deb

        What made the difference for me was getting my sex hormones right (optimized). They really do make a difference as to the quality and length of sleep.
        I googled sex hormones,sleep and there are good links to read.

  23. Monique DiCarlo

    Try Paleo for 30 days and you’ll make your doctor fall of his chair! I agree not to please your doctor, they do not know everything and they are often behind with the latest research, and their training is sponsored by the drug industry. Fat does not make you fat, not enough healthy fat makes you sick! Help yourself, heal yourself, there’s so much great info here! Be well, Mo

  24. Johannah

    “The doc said, I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it!” Wasn’t your doctor at all interested in learning anything?

    • NancyMc

      Not at all…and when I tried to share that we had both lost weight and improved all health markers on a no grain, low carb diet she just looked down at the chart and changed the subject. But she sure noticed when he gained a few lbs back after we fell off the wheat wagon for a while! That got the typical eat less move more lecture…

  25. barnaby

    hi dr. davis—-my husband and i have been on your wheat-free diet for almost a month now. our main goal is for his blood sugars to drop and if we can, eliminate the oral agents his type 2 diabetes requires. we have followed it very closely but he seems to have stagnated in his weight loss after losing only 5 lbs…for me, i didn’t weigh myself before starting but i do feel like my belly has started to shrink. is there any special thing he can do to speed up his weight loss?

    • Dr. Davis

      They’re on the right track, eh? Not quite there, but getting close.

      This is no small matter, but the ignorance over why this happens and what to do about it is astounding. My colleagues see this as an opportunity for drugs, when it’s the diet advocated by “official” that is doing it.

  26. Jenn

    Dr. Davis,
    Your book has changed my life. I have been gluten/wheat free for 5 weeks now. I’m 5’1 and workout 5-6 days a week and ‘thought” I was eating healthy with lots of ‘whole grains’. I couldnt ever figure out why I couldnt lose anymore weight. When I cut the wheat/gluten out, regardless I only have 5-8lbs to lose, the pounds started moving and oh my gosh, the inches in my waist and hips were amazing. I can’t quit telling everyone about my success. Not to mention, I haven’t had to take the first allergy pill this season as bad as NC pollen is and my moods have improved, not to mention, I’m sleeping so much better now. So thank you!! I’ve already gotten several people reading the book and changing their eating habits as well.

    Lastly, I wanted to tell you that I work at a hospital and just recieved the daily coworker news. Well, today is “Whole Grains Sampling Day”. Nationwide companies, including WalMart, McDonald’s and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, are promoting whole grain foods and encouraging Americans to add more whole grains to their diets. Isn’t that nice?? Total sarcasm here. If anything I wish I could tell these people really what whole grains do to them. It led me to a website for the whole grains councel and the info on their is mind-boggling wrong. This is why our society is so misled and this is why our country is so overweight and sick with disease. Thanks again, Jennifer

  27. denny

    Hi Dr. Davis–Is there anything special you can recommend to increase my weight loss? I am following your plan for diabetics yet don’t seem to be losing pounds. So far it has been about 3 weeks. I am a big guy–over 300–but am surprised that, in the course of the day, I am not starving. Yet, despite eating less, although differently, no weight loss has happened. Do you have any thoughts you can offer me? Some friends of mine have also started within the past 2 weeks and have already seen drops of 10 lbs or so. Help!

  28. Dana

    A big deal with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is that typical sufferers who aren’t alcoholics (which, contrary to conventional wisdom which thankfully is changing, alcoholics are in the minority with NAFLD) is overconsumption of fructose paired with insufficient intake of choline. They’ve been able to *induce* NAFLD in rats following this dietary pattern. They’re seeing the same thing in people.

    Chris Masterjohn says that if you’re eating a high-fat diet you need even more choline than the authorities call for in the typical person’s diet.

    Best dietary sources are beef liver and egg yolk. There are other dietary sources if you just can’t stand liver or can’t tolerate eggs, and you can also supplement, though I’ve heard this is generally discouraged. (While aware of potential risk, I myself am supplementing choline. So far, so good.) Dropping wheat is still a tremendously good idea, but you will also do your body a huge favor avoiding sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. (And agave. And honey. Basically, if it touts itself as a low-glycemic sweetener and it’s not an artificial sweetener, a polyol, or stevia, all that sweet is from fructose–AVOID.) And if you’re going to eat fruit, stick with low-sugar varieties. Berries and melon (possibly excepting watermelon) are good.

    • Dana

      Aaand I just tripped over my own fingers and brain with the alcoholics vs. NAFLD thing. GAH.

      …But it was once believed that if you had fatty liver disease, you had a drinking problem, despite protests from most patients that that was not the case. Now it transpires that most of those patients were probably telling the truth (there are always a few alcoholics in denial).

      FYI, if it’s turning up on your labs, you’re probably farther along in the disease process, from everything I’ve read so far. Usually, in the early stages, liver enzymes are normal. Wish MRIs weren’t so expensive, they’d catch it sooner. I just assumed I had it, because while I had normal liver enzymes on my labs, I also have a lot of central obesity.

  29. Rose

    Thank you Dr. Davis! After reading a bunch on this subject and me being diabetic and have not been taking care of it until now. I decided to start taking some Milk Thistle and am hoping it will fix the damage that’s been done to it over time. I did some research on the Milk Thistle and decided to start taking it. Only thing the one I got is 1K and it says on the bottle to take it 3x a day. BUT on my research it only says like 500mg a day. So I’m just taking one of the 1K a day. I know since I am also 65 pounds over weight that I have a fatty liver so maybe it will get much healthier soon, between eating the WB way and taking these as well! :-)

  30. Annette

    Dr, Davis can wheat be a cause for fatty liver disease, know someone who was just given this diagnosis.

  31. DoragonMama

    When I gave up artificial sweeteners and switch to pure stevia (not mixed with anything) my non-alcoholic-fatty-liver disease went away.



      • Jo

        I agree, tried it only once and the taste is incredibly horrid!!! Coconut flour as a substitute muchhhh better, thank you…