The Reluctant Wheat Belly

Blogger Gourmet Girl Cooks posted this tale of her reluctant adventure down Wheat Free Lane:

I am now 7 weeks without wheat or grains. I initially started WB to address my sky-high triglycerides and small LDL, hoping that this might be the answer for me and to keep my doctor from adding yet another medication to my routine.

After many years of losing weight, exercising, and replacing whole grains for the “white stuff,” per my doctors orders, to address my triglycerides (and it failing), I finally decided to give your program a try. I have been a regular reader of your Track Your Plaque Blog for years (way before WB) where you also talked about abstaining from all wheat to address high triglycerides. I will be honest with you: I started WB hoping that it would work . . . but fully expecting it not to. I assumed this was just another fad eating program of some sort.

I finally decided that I needed to know if it could be my answer once and for all, so I dove in 110%. I intentionally did NOT exercise. I wanted to put it to the test and see if the results of just abstaining from wheat/grains would do anything for me. It just turns out that I had a physical before starting the program and my bloodwork came back bad . . . again — bad enough that my doctor had me return in 3 weeks to recheck my BP and some of my bloodwork.

Here is the surprise: After 3 weeks, my triglycerides were cut almost in half; I had lost 16 pounds–yes 16 pounds. I gave my doctor your food plan that I printed out from your website (the Quick and Dirty). She said it must be working for you. Continue and come back and we will run your bloodwork again in 8 weeks. At 4 weeks on WB, I am down 21 pounds–who knew it could be so easy??? That would have taken months to do at any other time in my life. This is the first time I will be looking forward to my blood test results (early October).

I started this plan intending to prove you wrong. I am 7 weeks into this plan wondering where you have been all my life!!! I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I have never been so glad in my entire life to have been proven wrong. I will keep you posted on my progress (I have not weighed since the 4-week mark, but I am shrinking before my own eyes. It is astonishing to say the least). Thank you, thank you….thank you!

Isn’t that great?

Look through Gourmet Girl’s blog over time and you can see her shift in thinking about food. While her older posts (still beautifully photographed!) included plenty of wheat flour and pasta, her more recent recipes reflect her new wheat-free enlightenment. Take a look at her latest Eggplant Ricotta Bake. It looks like Gourmet Girl is another great resource for us wheatless folk looking for more clever recipes!

For those of you interested in understanding high triglycerides:

The issue of high triglycerides suggests that people like Gourmet Girl have a gene (or genes) that allow incredibly efficient conversion of carbohydrate calories to storage forms of energy–a survival advantage in a wild setting with intermittent and uncertain food supply.

Carbohydrates are converted to triglyceride-containing lipoproteins (such as VLDL) that provide the appearance of high blood triglyceride levels. It means high-efficiency de novo lipogenesis by the liver, the conversion of carbohydrates to triglyceride-containing lipoproteins. In a wild setting in which you may not eat for days or weeks, Gourmet Girl has a wonderful survival advantage. But in a modern setting in which foods flow many times a day, the product of liver de novo lipogenesis–triglycerides–accumulates to high levels. (Made worse, incidentally, by knuckleheaded advice like “Eat many small meals every 2 hours.” Wrong! This CAUSES heart disease and diabetes.)

The answer to reducing high triglycerides is not to cut the “white” foods and certainly not to cut fats, but to minimize exposure to carbohydrates, thus limiting the process of de novo lipogenesis.

The worst carbohydrate of all? The amylopectin A of wheat.

Anyway, welcome to the happy, healthy, and slender ranks of the Wheatless, Gourmet!

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. What a great story! The moment I realized that wheat was one of my biggest issues, a whole host of health problems just went away….

  2. Justus

    Here’s what I don’t understand – why is it that italians (in italy, not italian americans) that eat quite a lot of pasta and bread, don’t have the ‘wheat belly’?
    Is it because their genes have adapted through epigenetics and their bodies react differently? Or is it a different type of wheat? Any thoughts?

    Justus

    • Tressa

      I have the exact same question. I just returned from spending 11 days in Italy and was fed bread for breakfast lunch and dinner and pasta at every meal but everyone there was way thinner than the average American. I am on day 5 of WF and feel great but had every intention of asking Dr Davis the same question.

      • LivingInFreedom

        And interestingly enough, I think it’s like 10% or something of the Italian population has Celiac Disease.

        Good question!! I’m curious about this, too. Why does wheat seem to affect some people so much, but not others?

      • Geisha

        It doesn’t help that your sevings are enormous, your foods are laden with high fructose corn syrup, and even your milks etc are genetically modified and highly toxic from late 1990s (there’s a 10min YouTube TED TALK video by US Robyn O’Brien ‘search ted talk gm milk’) whoch doesn’t cause fat, just lots more cancer than you previously had in America.

  3. I have to agree with this experience. I have had high triglycerides & high blood pressure my entire life…even as a thin 20-something. My father has high tris, and so did my grandmother. My grandmother died from a heart attack, and my father has had several in addition to developing type-2 diabetes. I just thought it was genetic for me. I wasn’t expecting to live to a ripe old age, even though I’ve otherwise been exceedingly healthy. It didn’t seem to matter what I did, either from a weight or salt or whole grain or exercise perspective; I always had high tris and high BP. I just turned 41. Earlier this year, at 40, I was at my heaviest weight ever. My husband and I had gone through some really difficult financial times, and eating cheap usually doesn’t correlate to eating well. I was really, truly sick of myself. I was finally ready to do something, no matter what.

    I have always hated “fad” diets, but we decided to try one that included no refined carbs or sugars as a large part of the protocol, based on the amazing results of several friends. I tried to go off ALL carbs a few times prior, but I always ended up cranky and out of sorts; and right back on refined carbs within a few days. We started in the middle of March and amazingly, this time, no cranky pants! I was eating apples and grapefruit, strawberries and occasional oranges — no refined or “whole” flours or grains at all. Regular portions (4 oz) of lean protein and all the veggies I wanted. I lost 40 pounds by June (hubby lost 60) and I’ve kept that weight off, while slowly adding fats back in. I don’t miss bread at all…this from a girl who could eat a whole loaf of sourdough with butter in one sitting. My triglycerides, at 360+ prior and recommended to be at 150 or less, were 85 by the end of May. EIGHTY-FIVE!! Can you believe it? My BP went from 120/80+ WITH meds to 105/65 with meds. lol. I am being taken off those meds and BP is still 110/70.

    I eat lots of eggs, lean protein and vegetables. Plenty of fats…coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and avocados are staples, everyday. I feel completely satisfied, every day, on much smaller portions. I do occasional 18-24 hour fasts (who, ME?), drink tons of water and I am thinking of giving juicing a try. I feel like a different person. I no longer feel lethargic and dead after I eat. I no longer have the urge to nap after meals. When I have a craving for baked goods, I go almond flour and I am happy as a clam. When I feel like something sweet, agave is my friend. There are so many great food blogs out there–people share their experiences and recipes freely and make it easier for the rest of us.

    I want to lose another 40 and I am ramping up for that….all of this has been with just regular, normal exercise; walking etc. I’m not running any marathons, but who knows at this point? :)

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, Dawn-Renee: Buck the conventional advice . . . and you get slender and healthy!

      It is a genuine shame that we have to be so skeptical of all information given to us nowadays, given the ever present profit motive in health.

      • alva

        Dr. Davis,
        Can you answer the Italian people curiousity? Why do Italians in Italy not appear to have WB?

        • Dr. Davis

          This is one of those questions that I think needs to be posted on an FAQ page, as we have discussed this a number of times.

          Suffice it to say that:
          1) It is not entirely true. Italy, France, and other nations are experiencing their own epidemics of weight gain and diabetes, just not as bad as the U.S. and Canada.

          2) Wheat and pasta in the Italian diet are really not the centerpieces often portrayed. They also include much more oils and fats which partially blunt the effects of the wheat.

          3) The greater reliance on walking and outdoor life.

          4) The reliance on older cultivars (strains) of wheat, such as farro, emmer, and spelt makes them less exposed to the awful effects of modern semi-dwarf strains.

          • Dr. Robert Lustig, of the viral video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” fame, pointed out that the traditional Italian diet did not rely on sucrose very much. Italy did not have a sugar colony.

            Contributors on the board are obviously focused on the ill effects of wheat. Excess sugar (fructose) also causes weight gain.

            I have seen elsewhere where the Romans introduced wheat to other parts of Europe. In places where the Romans weren’t influential, Celiac disease is higher. It could be that some wheat tolerance issues worked themselves out, in a Darwinian way, ages ago? Is the rate of Celiac that high in modern Italy?

          • Dr. Davis

            Yes, excellent point, Hoofin. Fructose and sucrose are indeed problems for modern North Americans, less so than Europeans.

            Celiac is indeed a growing problem in Italy and many other nations, though the statistics are generally not as well tabulated there compared to the U.S. We can only speculate why, as there are skimpy explorations of the “why.” Genetics likely plays a role, as do varying strains of wheat.

            But we’ve always got to remember that celiac disease is one small, though important, aspect of the wheat-health equation. The list of other health problems that are skyrocketing is long and sobering, all due to wheat.

          • Boundless

            > Excess sugar (fructose) also causes weight gain.
            It’s far from ignored here. Ditching simple sugars is step 2 of undoing the damage from the official diets, starting with fructose (which is a very different thing from glucose, although glucose needs to be minimized too).

            > It could be that some wheat tolerance issues worked
            > themselves out, in a Darwinian way, ages ago?
            That was brought up in responses here last year. People clearly differ in their responses to heirloom wheats. Technowheat seems to be a novel and broad-spectrum toxin.

  4. Pat

    Thank you for posting the link to Gourmet Girl’s site. The photographs are truly beautiful and I am always on the lookout for new recipes. That Eggplant Ricotta Bake looks absolutely delicious!

  5. steve

    Doc,
    She not the only one who thought this just another fad diet, so did i, and because of the long tradition of bread and flour products associated with out lives, it’s know wonder the skepticsm. I wonder what will happen when high glycemic foods, and refined sugar is elimated from our diet. Doc the one hard choice l have right now, is l love all kinds of fruit, i know the WB states that we should limit our fruit intake, which i read and know, but l like fruit, not so much the dried fruits as the whole vine ripe fruits. This season the stores are full of all kinds of organic berries, bananas, so hard to cut down on fruit. I like one other thing which i know is bad and that’s potatoes, i’ve cut way down on potatoes. But i still have them with BBQ steak, chops, chicken, so know wonder i love them.
    Steve

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, it is wise to be mindful of your consumption of fruit and potatoes.

      I saw two people just this week who made themselves near-diabetic just from fruit.

      • Boundless

        > I saw two people just this week who made themselves near-diabetic just from fruit.
        I’ve asked here before, and have yet to see any discussion (could have missed it) on why humans are so poorly adapted to fructose, which is very different from glucose, metabolically.
        I suspect that part of the answer is that up until mass market refrigeration (1930s), fruit could only be a brief seasonal component of the diet. In the relatively short ancient human lifespan, the effects of annual fruit over-consumption just weren’t that big a deal.

        • Dr. Davis

          I don’ think that we can go much beyond speculation on this question, Boundless. I believe the observation you make, that fruit is meant to be an occasional seasonal exposure, is the reason why.

          It may also have to do with pancreatic beta cell burnout due to modern year-round, 365 days a day, consumption of carbohydrates as the dominant source of calories.

  6. PJ

    Thank you, Gourmet Girl! We need more wheat free/low carb ideas to keep it interesting. Your progress is awesome! The Eggplant Ricotta Bake is a must-try on my list for this weekend.

  7. Just went in for some labwork today. Hoping for the same results.

    My last test was 3 months ago when I went on LCHF and cut all wheat out of my diet. At that time, my triglycerides are at 268. My HDL is 22, LDL is 92, and Total is 168.

    I remember as a teenager having the doctor concerned about my high triglycerides. Now I am in my early 50s.
    So far after 3.5 months I am down 30 lbs and have moved from the obese to the overweight category in the BMI charts.

    • Rong

      Based on your weight loss alone, I think that you are going to be in for a very, very nice surprise. Let us know by posting it here when you get it. I’m looking forward to hearing how you did.

  8. Elana

    Awesome post Gourmet Girl!! I checked out the blog and love the recipes and photos. I myself have not committed 100% but know I need to. Can you give a sample of what your daily meals look like? Congrats and keep it up!!

    • Hi Elana…During the work week, Mon-Fri, I have Fage 2% Greek Yogurt for breakfast (plain w/ stevia and cinnamon) — it is just quicker for me since I don’t have a lot of time. Breakfast on the weekends is usually eggs or veggie filled omelets. Mid-morning I have almonds if I feel like I need something else. Lunch is usually leftovers from dinner the night before (I go home for lunch) or I make myself salads with either chicken or salmon on top — using an olive oil and vinegar dressing I make with different herbs or seasoning. Sometimes for lunch I make myself “sandwich wraps” filled with chicken, cheese, avocado and salsa using large lettuce leaves as my wraps. I also sometimes have an omelet for lunch with either cheese or veggies or both. Dinners…well you can see most of the dinners I eat since I post almost every day! :-) On the days I don’t post, it is usually because I am eating leftovers from the night before….and, well who wants to see me plate the same thing the next day! If dinner is later than normal…I may have a couple teaspoons of natural peanut butter. My desserts thus far basically consist of berries (blueberries, strawberries and raspberries). I probably eat 1/2 cup of berries 3 or 4 times per week because honestly, I am usually not hungry in the evenings after dinner…I may just have a cup of coffee w/ half-n-half. One last thing…I drink 1 gallon of water every single day (and have done so for 1-1/2 years ever since I had an episode of gout — to help prevent getting kidney stones). Water is the only thing I drink other than a cup (and occasionally 2 cups) of coffee each day. That’s in it a nutshell. Funny thing is I used to have such a sweet tooth that has essentially completely disappeared with WB. I am primed and ready to start baking WB compliant desserts…I just haven’t really had the desire/appetite for them yet…but I am looking forward to making some of them too as fall and winter roll around. Hope that helps!

  9. Anna

    I must say, I was a bit disappointed with my first lipid panel after 1 year on a grain-free, LCHF eating plan. I was expecting results like Gourmet Girl’s but instead, my total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides were well over the limit. I eat around 30g carb per day or less and a lot of saturated fat. What gives? (TC=283, trig=166, HDL=82, LDL=168)

    • Tyson

      What form is your saturated fat in? If it’s dairy, you might want to consider eliminating it and using olive oil and coconut oil exclusively. Dairy, as Dr. Davis has noted, is insulin-tropic which causes blood sugar spikes despite being low carb.

    • Dr. Davis

      This is an exceptionally rare pattern, Anna. Excessive carbohydrates cause this pattern in well over 95% of people.

      But you are the exception. Consider alcohol consumption and hyperchylomicronemia. Obviously, you will need the assistance of a health professional skilled in such things, such as a capable lipidologist.

      • Anna

        Thanks for your insight Dr. Davis. I don’t drink any alcohol at all and I don’t smoke. I have been slightly underweight all my life. Could this be a sign of the hyperchylomicronemia you mention? I ask my endocrinologist about my lipids at my next appointment.
        Tyson, I have been consuming butter, heavy cream, cheese and yogurt. I have been monitoring my blood sugar levels after eating and have not noticed any spike with dairy fat. However I could cut them out just to see. Thanks for the suggestion.

        • wrotek

          What is your coffee consumption ? Coffee contains cafestol -diterpene, that raises cholesterol levels . If u drink it, in excess amounts especially, u may consider switching to tea .

          • Anna

            Wrotek, I do drink coffee. I was not aware that it raises cholesterol levels. I am continuing to consume it because I have heard it may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is a relevant reason for me. Unfortunately I do not like tea. Thank you, I will certainly try to find some information on cafestol-diterpene.

  10. Erin

    We started WB a month ago, because my husband also has high triglycerides and a family history of diabetes. He’s lost 10 pounds, and I’ve been bouncing up and down in the same 1 lb range. I’m starting to get incredibly frustrated. Now I’m wondering if the very same genes that you mention–that are responsible for his unusually efficient conversion of carb calories–could also explain why some people like Gourmet Girl and my hubs (those who have those genes) seem to drop weight like crazy when they go wheat free and others (like me) dont really budge.

    Any words of encouragement? I got into this saying I would give it a fair shake, but how long before I see results? I want the promised benefits! I havent lost weight, I dont have greater mental clarity, I dont feel energized, I feel exhausted.

    • Dr. Davis

      Then it is highly likely, Erin, that thyroid dysfunction is impeding your success.

      Elimination of wheat will do many positive things for health, but it will not cure conditions like hypothyroidism.

      Get your free T3, free T4, and TSH tested and consult with a functional medicine doctor or naturopath for correction.

      • Geisha

        Polyunsaturated oils can suppress thyroid function, I read recently in “The Coconut Oil Miracle”, slowing down metabolism. Coconut oil seems to be THE most healthy oil – refined odorless tasteless version avoilable for cooking too – being medium chain fatty acids which don’t even require the pancreas in the digestive process (something like that ;D). Coconut oil is more easily absorbed by cells without taxing the body, unlike long chain Olive Oil – a good oil – which is more difficult for the body to process and absorb. I’m no scientiist. Cocnut oil is said to assist in the weight loss process, good for everything, and the fact that it’s saturated fat – there’s apparently nothing harmful about it.

      • Erin

        Thanks doctor! I have an appointment with my doctor for next week because of being so persistently tired, so I will bring it up then.

        We pretty much eliminated all grains this last month of being WB, only the occasional 1/2 cup serving of rice about once a week. So I really hope the doctor can figure out some other explanation for whats going on with me! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that something easily fixable comes up…

        • Sharon

          If you are chronically tired, that is a symptom of thyroid disorder. Before I started taking synthroid I would wake up after 9-10 hours of sleep, go to work, come home to nap for 1-2 hours, eat dinner, and then collapse in bed. It can take a while to get the correct dosage so be patient.

    • Terry

      Marsha — go to facebook page WHEAT BELLY RECIPE CENTRAL — lots of great ideas and bloggers who follow Wheat Belly ways and means to eating healthy and I have seen a recipe for burger buns. May use it for the holiday weekend. Personally — give me a grilled hamburger on a plate dressed with cheese, bacon, onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato, ketchup(a tad), mustard –anything else handy — avocado and a splosh or two of olive oil — then give me a fork — I am at the point I don’t miss the buns.

    • JIllOz

      Use those giant mushrooms as “bread rolls” for the hamburger. Cut off the stalks and use the cups. If you saute them a bit first they’ll be very juicy and warm!! :)

      Bon appetit!!

  11. Kathy

    Erin,

    I dropped about 6 pounds slowly and held after starting WF. At one point I was down 9 pounds and then gained three. The previous blog reminded me of the other grains that aren’t my friends either, and I’d forgotten about them. So I plan to be more conscious of those. My husband loves pasta and desserts. His weight NEVER changes; his blood work is perfect. He says his body will be donated to science. I am realizing that I am very sensitive to carbs. If I want to drop the 7 pounds I want to, I think I’m going to have to be strict. This certainly must have something do with genetics!

  12. Barb

    For those who are missing pasta, we have found a very delicious substitute! Kelp noodles. Very nutritious, gluten free, low glycemic, easy to fix (just put in a colander and rinse, then add to pasta sauce). We mix in fresh spinach and kale leaves and zucchini ribbons and sometimes ground bison meat. The kelp noodles have no taste of their own… They take on the taste of the pasta sauce.

  13. Maggie

    I’m really inspired by this post (and blog and book). My burning question is: do you believe there is any amount of wheat that is safe? My absolute favorite taco seasoning includes wheat flour (about a tablespoon per 1/2 cup of meat).

    • Dr. Davis

      No, I do not, Maggie.

      There are a number of reasons. But the #1 reasons is appetite stimulation: Eat it and appetite is ramped up, sometimes a lot.

      But that’s just ONE reason. There are many others.

    • Anna

      I can sure relate to you not wanting to miss out on your favorites! I’ve spent countless hours trying to replicate the foods I miss the most. But 1 tablespoon of wheat flour? Frankly it doesn’t sound like that big a challenge to replace. Could you use ground flaxseed, almond flour, coconut flour or psyllium husk powder instead? (Or potato or tapioca starch, if you are not cutting carbs)

      • Erin

        If it is taco seasoning you are sprinkling on meat I think you can just lose the flour entirely without another substitute for it. It isnt adding flavor (frankly may be reducing flavor). We usually go all herbs and seasonings in our taco seasoning. You can mix up a container of homemade seasoning and then store it in an old spice jar for easy use at dinner time.

      • Maggie

        Agreed – I just wondered if I was being too anal even worrying about such a small amount of flour being left IN my diet. I thought maybe I was going overboard. Apparently, not so :D

        • Anna

          Oh, I see. I’m the other way – if there is a just a small amount of flour or grain, I get rid of it! :)

  14. Rose

    Dr. Davis,

    If I was a stalk of wheat, I wouldn’t want to be within 100kms of you :-) You are one serious anti-wheat dude!!!

  15. Gigi

    Not sure if this has been asked before, but isn’t this simply a class effect of eliminating majority of carbs from the diet, and not necessarily about wheat in general?
    Thanks.

  16. Georgia Walker

    I agree that Gormet Girl’s but Dr. Davis’ recipe Three-Cheese Eggplant Bake is fantastic with onions, spinach, tomatoes, and (what I think takes it over the top) sun-dried tomatoes.

  17. JPBA

    Similar boat to Erin: haven’t had a single bite of wheat or any other grain since April and only once a week for a year before that . No dairy or sugar. In otherthe words, n fully paleo, but cI an ‘tloes an ounce. I have gained 65 unexplained pounds in last few years. I broke down and saw a doctor. My blood tests all in range. I have had 4 thyroid blood tests in the last few months but they all come back normal. Doctor, any ideas? I am at the end of my rope. Is there some other thyroid blood test I should get other than TSH/free T3/free T4?

    • Dr. Davis

      “In range” doesn’t mean anything. More often than not, thyroid dysfunction occurs with in the presumed “normal” range.

      Feel free to post your values here.

      • JPBA

        Then … how would one know if they really do have thyroid issues, if the blood tests don’t show that?

        Recent TSH results (first one in February, last one just last week) have been: 2.95, 3.466, 1.139, 2.44

        Free T4: 1.11, 0.8, 0.9, 0.99

        Free T3: 2.2, N/A (Dr. did not test), N/A (Dr. did not test), 2.2

        After the second test I convinced my doctor to look beyond the blood tests (as you suggest) and try out a thyroid med because there were no other clues to any other condition. So she agreed to put me on Levothryoxine. You can see that the numbers did move (though they already were in the reference range) but I gained another 8 pounds just in that time frame (2 months) so quit the meds because they did nothing to reverse the weight gain (and yes, I understood that takes around 6 weeks for them to kick in, so stayed on them to make sure).

        The only other thing she could think are 1) that I’m secretly getting up in the middle of the night and gorging (and she went to med school for this?!), or 2) that birth control caused the weight gain. So she urged me to go off birth control, so I did, but so far still no luck after 2 months.

        I then first cut out breakfast, then cut out lunch too, so I was IFing and only eating dinner. STILL DID NOT LOSE. After two months of that I figure I may as well start eating breakfast and/or lunch again because even IFing did not drop an ounce.

        I’ve been healthy and fit my whole life until this — NOT the classic tales we hear so often of lifelong bad habits and health problems turned around by going wheat free and/or Paleo. I like this way of eating but it hasn’t helped me a bit. I am pretty much in tears now when I read the stories of folks stopping wheat and losing 10, 20, 30 pounds in mere weeks. Why can’t that be me? I’m not sure where else to turn.

        Thanks.

        • Dr. Davis

          Easy, JP: Your doctor failed to correct your T3.

          Take levothyroxine, ignore the impaired conversion of T4 (levothyroxine) to T3 and you are left with, at best, partial improvement.

          Add T3 . . . weight loss results, you feel great, have more energy, mood improves.

          The problem may be your doctor, not you, nor the levothryoxine itself. Find a doctor who is willing to talk to you about T3.

          • JPBA

            Okay, thanks — so my problem is that I have issues with T3 but not necessarily with T4 or TSH, so that’s why the levo did not help me.

            So is the solution to take the levo I have been prescribed PLUS something else for the T3, or take something else entirely? What would that something else be?

            I am looking at local integrative medicine practitioners.

            Thank you!

          • Dr. Davis

            Either a preparation like Armour thyroid containing both T3 and T4, or adding liothyronine to levothyroxine.

            I like the first best, as most people feel best doing this.

  18. ellen

    I have the same problem. I haven’t eaten a scrap of wheat or grain since February and have lost only 7 lbs. My thyroid isn’t functioning properly, but two doctors have been reluctant to put me on Armour or add T3 to my Synthroid because I have PVCs and SVTs. They say the added T3 will increase the palpitations and could be dangerous to my heart. I’m beyond frustrated as I have a lot of weight to lose.

    Dr. Davis, is there any recourse for me? Thank you.

  19. Lou

    Hi all. Not sure where to post this.

    I think I’ve been a victim of the mentality that because my doctor is a nice, caring person, he always knows best.

    I have a strong family history of heart disease, and Doc has had me on a statin for about a year. The side effects are horrible; I’d rather die young than feel that bad. Doc says that only 3-5% of people have to get off statins because of side effects, and has strongly advised me to continue the meds but I weaned myself off. I went for a calcium score and it was zero so I determined that giving up the wheat, etc., will help me more than a statin. The other wrinkle (he claims) is that because I had a total thyroidectomy, I am more susceptible to heart disease. I don’t see the correlation, frankly, but I’m getting the right amount of Synthroid so it’s a moot point I think.

    I’m scared that I’m just going to drop dead one day now that I’m off the statin. Is that an irrational fear? I don’t sleep through the night because I’m worried about dying in my sleep.

    • Dr. Davis

      You definitely need a new doctor, Lou.

      Where to start? Here are few thoughts:

      1) If there is family risk for heart disease, what is the genetically-transmitted trait? Lipoprotein(a)? CETP variant that results in excessive small LDL with carbohydrate consumption? Apo E4? This needs to be answered.

      2) Risk for heart disease is NEVER via “high cholesterol,” but via other lipoprotein and metabolic factors that can be identified, e.g., via lipoprotein testing.

      3) Most people with hypothyroidism do BETTER on a T3-containing preparation, not just Synthroid. Lack of T3 (Synthroid is T4) acts as a coronary risk factor, especially if there is inherited risk for heart disease.

      You might consider perusing my Heart Scan Blog and Track Your Plaque program for added insights that cannot be covered in this blog for wheat.

      • Pat Proft

        You are so right about Synthroid. In 2003, I also had a thyroidectomy and 5 years ago I switched from Synthroid to Armour. I had been on Statins (first Lipitor, then Crestor, then Vitorin) but quit all of them due to pain in my knees. After the switch to Armour, my total cholesterol has been fairly normal. The last lab (in August) I had total cholesterol at 197, triglyceride 126, but HDL was 54 and LDL was 118. So all is not completely good, but I feel a lot better.

        To be sure, there have been problems with Armour and the latest form from Forest Labs isn’t as good as the form they were manufacturing in 2007 (too much cellulose now). I think I have tried all forms from Naturethroid, Westhroid, etc. and now I am taking 3 grains/day of NP Thyroid.

        Finding a doctor to prescribe it for you can be your biggest hurdle. The do exist but are few and far between. You just have to be persistent.

        All that being said, I too have wheat belly, and was diagnosed in August (after a bought with sever abdominal pain) with fatty liver disease. It wasn’t found from blood liver tests because they were normal (AST – 23, ALT – 55), but was found from an ultrasound. I am also pre-diabetic with a fasting blood sugar of 108 (has been this for years).

        I read your book and I have been wheat-free and sugar free (use Stevia) for three weeks. So far I have only lost 2 pounds. I am a 5’2″, 61 year old female and need to lose at least 40 more pounds. Hopefully some how I can get past this.

        • Dr. Davis

          Because of your slow progress, Pat, you might consider restricting total carbohydrates to, say, 15 grams “net” (total carbs minus fiber) per meal.

          This can often boost you out of a weight loss slump.

  20. Jared

    I’ve learned so much from your book and have recommended it many times. There’s one thing about your book I don’t understand though, and that’s the sky high blood sugar response you say comes after consuming wheat. What confuses me is that even though the glycemic index of wheat bread is high (70) the glycemic load is actually low (only 7.7). From what I’ve learned about the glycemic load vs. the glycemic index, the load is a much better representation of how the food will respond in your body, and that foods with a load of less than 10 are considered good to eat because the blood sugar response is low. You talk about the glycemic index of foods in your book, but not about the glycemic load. Can you help me to understand this better? (Another thing worth mentioning is that the glycemic load of table sugar is 7 and the glycemic load of white bread is 8.4…….. both less than 10). Now I’m really confused. Please help me if you can. Thanks.

    • Dr. Davis

      There’s a very simple self-test you can conduct and see how ridiculous the whole notion of glycemic index AND glycemic load are.

      Get a glucose meter and test strips (e.g., at Walmart or Target, available without prescriptions). Consume a food and test a pre-meal and 1-hour after eating blood sugar.

      You will see, for instance, that 2 slices of whole wheat bread raise blood sugar typically to 170 mg/dl. An equivalent quantity (by carbohydrate grams) of White table sugar raises it to 158 mg/dl. Two slices of multigrain bread raises it to 152 mg/dl.

      In other words, it’s ALL bad, just different shades. The effect we want is an after-eating blood sugar of 100 mg/dl or less, the phenomenon that prevents or reverses multiple metabolic phenomena.

      What we want is NO glycemic index and NO glycemic load.

  21. Ali

    I have been wheat free for 3 weeks (although I did cheat a few times) and I haven’t even lossed 1 lbs!!! Ergh :(

    • Dr. Davis

      Then something is impeding your success, Ali.

      First, consider complete wheat elimination. Second, most people do best with restricting carbs to 15 grams “net” carbs per meal or less. Third, consider thyroid dysfunction and/or iodine supplementation.

      After that, there are a number of issues to consider. In other words, wheat elimination is powerful, but cannot correct every abnormal condition, such as thyroid dysfunction.

  22. Megan B.

    Dr. Davis,
    I was 2 weeks into the wheat free lifestyle and had lost 7 pounds. I was so excited as I am a 38 year old avid exerciser who was monitoring calorie intake and was inexplicably continuing to gain weight. Anything that helped me take weight off was definitely something I could do! At the end of 2 weeks, I gained 2 pounds and have hit a stand still on weight loss. I am eating the same, working out the same, etc. I am pre-diabetic and had gestational diabetes with each of my three children so I know that insulin levels are likely the issues with my weight loss both before and after being wheat free. You stated that the fat loss I am experiencing can increase insulin levels. Also, my thyroid has been tested several times and all appears to be fine. Here are my questions…..
    1. Other than restricting all over carbs to 15mg per meal (which I am starting to do), do you have any other suggestions to get my body loosing again and keep insulin from spiking? And should I test my sugars before and after meals to monitor this?
    2. If my insulin levels may be up due to fat loss, that would mean that I would continue to see body changes even though I don’t see weight changes?
    3. How long do these plateaus usually last and at what point if I don’t start loosing again should I suspect another issue is the culprit?
    Thanks for your help,
    Megan B.

  23. Darcy

    Dr Davis
    I have been wheat free for three weeks. My daughter has celiac and I have many of the symptoms you have mentioned in the book. My energy level is up, the fog in my head is gone( this has been the most amazing part). My joints are not aching like they were. Only one negative, a bit Nasty subject. My bowel movements have become light colored, almost clay colored. This never happened when I was eating wheat. Any thoughts or suggestions? The Internet is a scary place and a lot of sites are saying I may have a liver problem. But if it just started when I went on the diet, that does not make sense to me. The only significant diet Change ( other than eliminating wheat) is I am eating a lot of nuts

    Thanks for your help!!