I lost the wheat, but didn’t lose weight: 2

Yes, it happens: Rid your life of all things wheat and you get relief from acid reflux, joint pain, and mood swings . . . but not weight loss.

While most people enjoy rapid and dramatic weight loss with wheat elimination due to the loss of the appetite-stimulating effect of wheat gliadin, the loss of repetitive glucose-insulin provocation of amylopectin A, the reduction of inflammation (that blocks insulin) of the combined effects of gliadin/wheat germ agglutinin/amylopectin A, and the leptin-blocking effect of wheat germ agglutinin, this doesn’t happen to everybody. Or you lose, say, 10 pounds, only to have weight loss stop for an extended period with another 50 to go.

Why? Elimination of wheat is an extremely powerful strategy for regaining control over health, appetite, and weight. But it cannot correct or undo every abnormal situation that causes weight gain or blocks weight loss. The list of solutions to break a weight loss failure is rather extensive and there is often more than one answer. There are more but these are the biggies. Let’s consider them one by one:

1) Lose the carbohydrates
Many people have high blood levels of insulin with resultant resistance to insulin that has to be undone for weight loss to occur. Beyond getting rid of wheat and its extravagant insulin-raising effect, it therefore helps to restrict other carbohydrates. This is among the reasons I condemn gluten-free foods made with rice starch, cornstarch, tapioca starch, and potato starch. So cutting carbohydrates may become necessary, e.g., no more than 15 grams “net” carbs per meal (i.e., total carbs minus fiber). (I use a free iPhone app called FoodFacts to get quick listings of various foods or an old-fashioned handbook of nutritional content of foods works fine.) Another way to manage carbs: Get a fingerstick glucose meter and check blood sugars immediately prior to meals, then 1-hour later; aim for NO CHANGE in blood sugar. This works for many people and can be conducted in concert with counting carbohydrates.

An occasional person will actually require a ketogenic state to achieve weight loss, i.e., complete elimination of carbohydrates in order to metabolize fats, evidenced by the fruity breath odor of ketones or urine dipstick testing positive with Ketostix.

2) Revel in fats and oils–Fat is satiating and reduces appetite. Liberal fat intake, contrary to conventional “wisdom,” does not make you fat; it helps you get skinny. The only fats to avoid are fried (high-temperature), hydrogenated, and highly-processed polyunsaturated seed or GM oils like safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soybean, and canola.

You can add fats/oils to many foods, e.g., add 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive or coconut oil to scrambled eggs or soups. Some people even choose to consume coconut oil “straight.”

3) Lose the dairy–The problem with dairy is not fat; it’s the whey fraction of protein. Some people are susceptible to the “insulinotrophic” action of whey–a tripling of insulin output by the pancreas, a situation that stalls weight loss. The solution: Avoid all dairy when trying to lose weight. I know of no other way to confidently identify this as the culprit . . . except a trial of elimination. This approach does, however, make the diet very restrictive, so this may be necessary for only as long as you are trying to lose weight.

4) Thyroid dysfunction–VERY, VERY common. Thyroid dysfunction is really part of a broader modern problem in human health: Endocrine disruption from environmental organochemicals. We are witnessing more obesity, diabetes, pituitary, thyroid, ovarian, and other endocrine gland disruption due to chemicals such as perchlorates (residues of synthetic fertilizer in produce), polyfluorooctanoic acid (non-stick cookware), bisphenol A (polycarbonate plastics, resin lining of cans), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants), along with many others. The end result of decades of exposures: disruption of endocrine status. The most common: Impaired thyroid hormone production, both T4 and T3.

Problem: Even if diagnosed, most of my colleagues prescribe the T4 thyroid hormone only (Synthroid or levothyroxine), while failing to address T3–even if it is abnormally low. This is a big mistake, since many of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals we are exposed to are blockers of the 5′-deiodinase enzyme that converts T4 to active T3. If you are deficient in T3, you will not lose weight, no matter how much T4 you take. Also, ideal TSH? 1.0 mIU or less–NOT the 3.5 or 4.0 many doctors are content with. The key: Find a practitioner willing to explore this question, usually a functional medicine practitioner or naturopath, virtually NEVER an endocrinologist.

Some people (proportion varying by region, age, ethnicity; this represents about 20% of the people I meet with underactive thyroids in Wisconsin) have underactive thyroids due to iodine deficiency. (I am, in fact, seeing a rise in goiters–enlarged thyroid glands due to lack of iodine). This will respond to the simple supplementation of iodine, e.g., 500 mcg per day from kelp tablets or iodine drops from the health food store. (Adverse reactions are rare but need to be explored to rule out, for instance, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or active thyroid nodules.) Supplementing iodine is no more dangerous than salting your food with iodized salt. Take iodine for at least 3 months to observe the full effect.

But if even marginal thyroid dysfunction is present, or undertreated hypothyroidism, it can completely block weight loss. Correct thyroid status to ideal and weight loss proceeds.

5) Lose drugs that block weight loss–Obviously, this should be undertaken with the knowledge of your healthcare provider. Beta blockers, such as metoprolol, atenolol, and propranolol; antidepressants like amitryptiline, doxepin, paroxetine (Paxil), and trazodone, thought nearly all antidepressants have been associated with weight gain in some people; Lyrica for fibromyalgia and pain; and insulin. I’ve seen 20, 30, even 50+ pounds gained within several months of initiating long-acting insulin preparations like Lantus. This is only a partial list, as there are many others.

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

7) Get adequate sleep–Sleep deprivation increases adrenaline, cortisol, and insulin, while increasing appetite, all of which add up to stalled weight loss or weight gain. Adequate sleep, occurring in 90-minute “packages” (e.g., 7 1/2 hours, 9 hours) is crucial. (Note that chronic sleep deprivation can even increase mortality–death.)

8) Fast intermittently–Intermittent fasting of, say, 15-48 hours in duration, can be a wonderful way to break a weight loss plateau. However, this is best undertaken after you’ve confidently removed all wheat, concluded your wheat withdrawal experience, and all the above strategies have been explored and squared away. Be sure to hydrate vigorously, as dehydration is the most common reason for failing and experiencing symptoms like lightheadedness, nausea, and unexplained fatigue. (People with diabetes or hypertension need to talk to their healthcare provider about the advisability of taking their drugs during a fast.) Also, Intermittent fasting should not be confused with the habitual skipping of meals, e.g., always skipping breakfast; habitual and consistent meal skipping actually causes weight gain. If you skip meals, do so in an unpredictable and random pattern, so that your body does not adjust and ratchet down its metabolic rate.

9) Drink coffee–By no means a big effect, else all coffee drinks would be skinny. But 2-3 cups per day of caffeinated coffee, via caffeine and possibly chlorogenic acid (below), can yield a modest weight reduction.

Beyond this, there are the speculative relationships between bowel flora and weight, with some data, such as this trial of fructooligosaccharides (prebiotic inulin) resulting in modest weight loss. At present, however, the precise species of bowel bacteria that facilitate weight loss and/or prevent weight gain have not been worked out. Other supplements, such as green coffee bean extract/chlorogenic acid, white bean extract to block carbohydrate digestion, and medium-chain triglycerides have shown effects in limited trials, though I have not witnessed substantial effects in people trying them.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. RecrutrMom

    I’ve been on the wheat belly diet for 15 days. I have eliminated everything the book tells you to and have added an exercise routine at my local gym. In the first week I lost 6 lbs and in the last 8 days only 2. I seem to have plateaued – help! I have a lot of “wheat” belly to lose and don’t know what to do. In past I have lost more weight more quickly than I have on this diet. I’m completely discouraged, not to mention the fact that I spent a lot of money on products that may or may not be helping me lose the weight. Please advise how to proceed.

  2. Judy Maya

    Dr. Davis,
    I’m 68 yrs old. A women who was never over 110lbs, and mostly under that. Normal weight 103-107lbs most of my adult life. I’m 5’1” tall. Grew up during the time when food really changed. Raised 4 kids, worked outside the home as well as housework, etc. A Super Mom! I also lived on Dr. Pepper and Cigarettes for 40 years. Right, the cigs took it’s toll. In 1991 was the first sign of emphasema. I didn’t stop smoking until 1998. It was tough to quit. Started to work on eating better. In the years between 40 and 50yrs old, I worked out in a Gym 3hrs. a day, 5 days a week. Danced every weekend, was still smoking then. In 2007 was told I had Lung Cancer, was treated with the Cyber Knife, and have not had the cancer return since then. Prior to the cancer I was having bouts of pneumonia or bronchitis and my Drs. here in SC seem to be in love with Steroids and Antibiotics and nearly killed me with them before I told them to stop and I refused to take any more. My weight began to shoot up and up and up. I now live with oxygen use 24/7, do nebulizer treatments 3 times a day and take 4 perscription meds, Tramadol, Lorazepam and Metoprolol and Theophylline. I juice most of my veggies and fruits, something I’ve been doing for about 3 years. Anywhere from 19 to 21 kinds at a time it lasts me 4 days. It seems to help keep me healthy. I suffered from Colitis before the juicing, but it is rare now. I can no longer exercise, or do much of anything really because I can’t breath well enough. After the weight started to add up, I looked for ways to diet. Nothing worked. I heard about your plan of Lose the Wheat and Lose the Weight, got the book read it cover to cover, got the cookbook, bought all the stuff I could afford, stopped all the wheat, made the food in the cookbook and guess what? I didn’t lose one pound! Nothing! You said exercise wasn’t necessary to lose. So what is my problem? Why am I the only one who doesn’t lose?. What am I doing wrong here? Got any suggestions on how to help me? I’m at 146lbs, I’ve been at this weight for several months now, it doesn’t go up much but it sure doesn’t come off. This was my last hope! I don’t want to die early because this weight causes other problems, because some are starting to show up. It’s not hunger I have trouble with or cravings and anything other than I can’t do a lot of activity. Is this what keeps me from losing? I don’t sit all day If that’s what you think, but I don’t do very much. Please, Please help me if you can. Most sincerely, J

    • Dee

      Hi Judy

      Have you tried watching and possibly minimizing your carb intake? You may be consuming too many and your body wants to hold on to everything.

    • missymonypenny

      Judy, I think every body is different so are WB results. I have followed WB for 1.75 yrs now but still have more weight to lose. I have lost 52 lbs since 9/11 with WB & a combo of other things mixed in but I stay wheatfree unless I have a moment of insanity. If you stay within the guidelines & watch dairy. For me I can have a perfect LC day & stay under 50 carbs but if I have too much cheese & protein I might gain. Plus sodium is a issue sometimes sausage or bacon or laden with sodium & nitrates which also trigger weight gain for me. I envy the ppl that can eat a 1lb of bacon & their 2oz of chocolate a day & still lose weight, its just not fair! But dont give up since it may take longer for you especially with the meds u r taking. I wanted to comment on you not being able to exercise, try rebounding. Look it up, it has many amazing benefits & all you have to do is bounce or step. You dont even have to get out of breath or try Yoga, there are lots of senior classes that use chairs so you dont even get on the floor. If you would like to chat find me on FB – Missymonypenny.

  3. Furstrated

    My husband and I have been wheat belly diet for over 5 weeks. We have eliminated all grains from our diet. He lost 10 pounds in the first few week and I lost 5 lbs. in the first 3 weeks and 1 more lb since then. We both seemed to have plateaued. We both really like the way we feel, but are very frustrated and discouraged that we are not seeing more results on the diet. Please advise.

    • Dr. Davis

      Did you run through ALL of the items on this list?

      I would invite you, for instance, to post your thyroid testing values.

  4. Nancy Lilley

    My husband has been on the Wheab Belly lifestyle for about 4-5 weeks now and has lost over 12 pounds. I have only been on it for 5 days and I haven’t lost anything yet….is it too early? At the beginning, I did eat a couple of Fiber bars (90 calorie) bars, but, have since thrown them away. I’m not a quitter and I set myself a goal to lose 20 pounds by September, so I will continue with this new lifestyle. :)

    If anyone has any suggestions that could help, by all means, please let me know! :)



    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, Nancy: stick it out.

      If you are in a hurry, consider curbing other carbohydrates to 15 grams “net” (total carbs – fiber) per meal.

  5. claudia

    I’ve decided to go gluten free 2 weeks ago as I’m a 46-year old female with way too many aches and pains that I don’t think should be there, despite hearing ‘oh at your age….’. I’ve always been on the heavier side but no up/down for the 12 years living in NY, but having moved to England in 2010 have now put on 15 kg and am really not happy.
    Not having eaten meat for the past 4 years, have now added a piece of organic chicken/turkey breast to my diet. I don’t actually miss the carbs at all, which is amazing in itself, considering I could eat half a pound of bread with a salad, or half a bag of pasta.
    I’ve also not replaced the carbs by gluten free ones other than the occasional toast on the weekend but other than maybe 1 kg seems to be moving – I definitely eat a good third less than before.
    Am I missing something?
    Any suggestions are welcome – many thanks, this is much appreciated


    • Dr. Davis

      Yes. In fact, wheat elimination can reduce or eliminate reactive hypoglycemia.

      Note that blood sugar lows follow blood sugar highs. It means that foods that trigger the highs are the cause. The foods with any glycemic index above single-digits is to blame. The worst: modern wheat, followed by corn and sugar.

  6. EA

    Really been watching the carb grams and keeping them low…scale has gone down by almost 3 lbs in a little over a week, which historically is absolutely unheard of. Hate to say this cause tomorrow I could gain 5 lbs, but maybe there is something to not just low carbs, but really low carbs…..

    • Boundless

      > … maybe there is something to not just low carbs, but really low carbs…

      Yep. It’s called nutritional ketosis (NK). Below 100 net grams of carbs per day, your body periodically runs out of carbs to convert to glucose, so for part of the time (usually at night), it switches to converting fat to ketone bodies.

      Just guessing, I suspect that stored fat is metabolized in preference to dietary fat, and results in weight loss. Below 50 grams net carbs daily (the WB target), you are in NK more of the time. Below 20, you are in NK almost all of the time. Don’t go below 20 without a deeper understanding of NK.

      Healthy cells can run just fine on either glucose or ketone bodies. Significantly, cancer cells cannot run on ketone bodies. Going very low carb may confer all sort of benefits.

  7. EA

    well…the “loosing” cycle ended with just under 3 lbs lost, even under 50 g carbs a day….don’t know why my body refuses to loose wt, but that is the way it is….10 days scale is stuck…at least the extreme fluctuations have vanished, but it is still a little irritating to not be loosing anything….

    • Dr. Davis

      Please feel free to post your thyroid values: TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3.

      You’d be shocked how many people have been told that their thyroid is “fine” with either just a TSH value or an abnormal collection of values.

      • Hi Dr. Davies: Here are my numbers-
        TSH :less than .01
        Free T3: 4.8
        Free T4: 15.3
        Iodine: 10 mcg
        Iron: 12.3
        Cortisol: 268
        Selenium: 1.92
        Zinc absorption: 891
        Cooper: ok
        Taking levothyroxine and cytomel but still not losing weight. No dairy, no processed foods, good fats, 15 grams of carbs per meal – still not losing weight. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help!

  8. EA

    Only have the TSH value- 1.37–because that was so within the “normal” range, haven’t been tested further on thyroid..thx

    • Cecilia

      ” 3) Lose the dairy–The problem with dairy is not fat; it’s the WHEY fraction of protein. Some people are susceptible to the “insulinotrophic” action of whey–a tripling of insulin output by the pancreas, a situation that stalls weight loss.
      The solution: Avoid ALL dairy when trying to lose weight. I know of no other way to confidently identify this as the culprit . . . except a trial of elimination. This approach does, however, make the diet very restrictive, so this may be necessary for only as long as you are trying to lose weight.”

  9. HELP Dr. Davies:
    Wheat free for one year. Waist measure still 32″. Treated with eltroxin for 33 years but living with some of the symptoms since I turned 50. Found a doctor willing to add T3 and lingering symptoms disappeared but not the weight. Have had all the suggested tests done with the following results:
    TSH :less than .01
    Free T3: 4.8
    Free T4: 15.3
    Iodine: 10 mcg
    Iron: 12.3
    Cortisol: 268
    Selenium: 1.92
    Zinc absorption: 891
    Cooper: ok

  10. Signe Verrill

    Can iodine be absorbed transdermally? Also, you mentioned beta blockers — is bisoprolol HCTZ one of the “culprits”? I’ve been on it for years for hypertension.

    Thank you…

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, but the absorption is likely trivial. I know that some people advocate dermal testing, as well as supplementation, but the little data we have suggest this is not an effective means of testing nor supplementation.

      Yes, bisoprolol does indeed block your capacity to lose weight. It means talking to your doctor about an alternative that does not fall in the beta blocker class, especially now that you have the tremendous advantage of being wheat-free.

  11. Linda

    I have been on the Wheat Belly diet since the end of March. Previously, I ate tons of wheat in my diet. and thought I would really see dramatic results once cutting out ALL the wheat and restricting carbs. I am 57 years old, about 25 pounds overweight. I also have been doing Shaun T’s Insanity for over a year 4-5 days a week. In the beginning I slowly lost 13 lbs, but have stalled over the last 3-4 weeks. I really do not feel ANY of the results posted by anyone else, but i guess luckily, I haven’t suffered from any ailments and am not on any meds. The only thing I can guess is that I rarely get more than 5 hours of sleep a night – but this is normal for me and it doesn’t affect me during the day. I had no withdrawal symptoms and am just stumped at what to do next. Can anyone offer any suggestions?

    • Administrators may want to take steps with the above “reply”.

      It’s pretty clearly a spam from an MLM seller.

      Nutrition Facts are not to be found on the products, but the ingredients touted include soybean oil & protein, high omega 6, fructose and sucralose.

  12. Lisa

    I am brand new to the WB diet. Have read the book and am raring to go. My goal is to lose 25 pounds. Several questions:

    1. When counting carbs, what are “net carbs”? I see the label “Carbohydrates” and then a line for “Dietary Fiber”. Should I subtract Dietary Fiber from Total Carbohydrates to get the Net Carb number?
    2. I find myself munching on raw almonds and sunflower seeds during the day. Is it possible to eat too many?
    3. I understand the pitfall of substituting gluten free foods and am not planning to buy any. However, what about alcohol? I know that there are some gluten-free beers and vodkas. Are they bad as well? I usually need a beer or a drink by the end of the day. :)
    4. I also find myself eating cheese, which is something that I haven’t done in years. Is there a point where a lot is too much?


    • Barbara in New Jersey


      1. Total carbs – dietary fiber = net carbs.
      2.& 4. On average, Dr. D. recommends 15 carbs per 6 hour period for a daily total carb intake of 45-50 carbs. Count the nuts and cheese carbs as part of your total.
      3. I believe the GF beer has some carbs, most other drinks don’t, but mixers might which are all part of your daily total. Grain based drinks might not be the best idea. Wine is OK I believe. Perhaps someone else on this blog is more familiar with alcohol consumption on WB.

      Also, read WB Quick and Dirty on this blog for more info.
      Best wishes for success!

    • 1. Correct

      2. Possibly; mind the net carbs (50 grams/day, 15 per meal or 6-hr period)

      3. Alcohol is calories, but not by itself carbs. It does reportedly knock the liver out of ketosis, if that’s where you’re try to be. But the big problem is usually the other stuff in the beverage. Wine is for the most part OK in modest quantities – one glass/day. GF beer is your 15g net carbs in just one bottle. I’d skip the GF beer until you hit your weight target. Mixed drinks are usually loaded with carbs (sugars), although you can whip up a low carb marg.

      4. Cheese is usually not a problem, if you aren’t sensitive to various dairy antagonists (lactose, casein, etc.). Go for the cheeses higher in fat/lower in protein. Avoid orange (annatto) coloring.

  13. Stephanie

    Dr. Davis (or anyone else who can answer my question!),
    I’ve been wheat free since June 17, 2013 and for the first 4 weeks I felt great and experienced many of the same things others have….lots of energy, flat stomach, no bloating, no cravings, not hungry between meals, weight loss, clearer skin, sleeping great, etc., but for the past 3 weeks I’m not feeling as good. I’m back to feeling shaky and weak sometimes, my energy level is what it was before I gave up wheat (i.e. low), hungry between meals and having cravings. I don’t feel I can go several hours without eating like I did in the beginning. I haven’t been re-exposed to wheat and have been dedicated at eating the foods recommended in WB (lots of veggies, nuts, cheese, fruit, beef, chicken, fish, etc. and several recipes from the WB books). I think I’m eating enough at each meal and am not hungry until an hour or so after I’ve finished eating. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Is it possible to have wheat withdrawal several weeks after giving up wheat or is it possible that I’m becoming deficient in something? When I first went wheat free, I really only had withdrawal symptoms for a day or two (headache). Would appreciate any feedback in case I am doing something wrong!

    • gingerbread

      A couple of thoughts for what they are worth: Check your daily net carbs (carbs minus fiber), Check for re-exposure (grains other than wheat, like corn, rice, etc.), increase your health fat intake (coconut oil, olive oil), and lastly, check for supplement addition based on the subject title on the left of the page.

    • Barbara in New Jersey


      Perhaps you are not drinking enough water. 48 oz. minimum daily. Probiotics? These help to repopulate the intestinal flora. Magnesium? What kind of sugar substitute and how much sugar substitute are you using? You may have to change or use less. Make sure you are not eating other high carb foods, even fruits with high fructose levels.

      Check your foods for inadvertent wheat exposure. Premade hamburgers and even those at burger
      restaurants may contain wheat (to keep them juicy) and sometimes restaurants or fast food places even add pancake batter to scrambled eggs. Sausages, dry roasted nuts, some cheeses have wheat. Check your condiments too. Most bottled ones contain high fructose corn syrup or wheat in some form.

      Try eliminating dairy, citrus and other well known allergy groups of foods one at a time for a few days to see if they are the cause for your relapse.

    • Tony

      Agree with Gingerbread:

      How much fat are you consuming?

      And how much fruit is in “lots of veggies, nuts, cheese, fruit, beef, chicken, fish, etc. and several recipes from the WB books”?

      • Stephanie

        Gingerbread, Barbara in New Jersey and Tony,

        Thanks so much for your input. I will look at all of your suggestions and see if I can get back on track. I am drinking plenty of water but think I am eating too much high sugar fruit. I don’t bake a lot so haven’t tried any of the sweeteners yet (they seem very expensive?) and I have cheated and used regular sugar a few times. I have not been tracking carbs but will start to do that today. I thought I was eating lots of good fats (coconut oil, olive oil, full fat cheese, nuts), but maybe I’m not getting enough of these? Will try to increase these too. I’ve been obsessive about label reading and haven’t really eaten out in the past couple of months so think I’ve been good at avoiding the hidden culprits. Will also look at the supplements you all mentioned. I guess I shouldn’t have thought it would be as easy and just not eating wheat anymore!! Thanks again :-)

        • gingerbread

          Hi Stephanie, you’re welcome. I know i have been there, and somebody helped me; actually many somebodies on this board. I had cut all wheat and most grains, but couldn’t let go of tortilla chips. Very bad. So I got re-exposed. When you are re-exposed, and you still have the sugar, you will experience what you have described. Track what you eat closely for about 3-5 days, write it down, as well as the values. You will be surprised what you will find out. Once you do, you will be more aware. Also, when re-exposed, it may take a week or as long as a month to totally eradicate the effects in your system. Imagine if you re-exposed yourself every 5-10 days; the cycle never ends. Good luck in finding the answer, we are all pulling for you!

          • Stephanie

            Thank you gingerbread! That makes total sense and is great advice, especially about the sugar re-exposure…I forgot it’s not just about wheat re-exposure. Thanks for the reminder! This is such a huge learning process but so worthwhile :-)

  14. Jazz

    Hi! I’m 23 and went wheat free 4 weeks ago after reading wheatbelly. I was hoping to loose 5-7 pounds that I gained the past year (I don’t have that much to loose, just want clothing to fit again!)
    I used to eat A LOT of bread/pasta before so I was hoping for a huge difference. I now have much more energy, less bloat, and I’m not starving all the time. Therefore I’ve been much more active and eat significantly less (I eat 1200 calories without trouble, whereas before I’d be starving). I’m not trying to loose a lot of weight so I didn’t cut out rice/potatoes. Anyway long story short I haven’t lost one single pound even though I go for jogs and walk a lot. Is it necessary to go completely carb free to loose a few pounds or is my thyroid abnormal? Should I have lost a pound or two just by going wheat free and eating less (because I’m satisfied with much less food!) I feel like I should have lost atleast a little bit of weight..

  15. Kathy

    I have been Wheat Free for two weeks and only lost 2 lbs . I ate a lot of wheat in my diet , and I figured when I cut it out I would have lost more weight by now. It’s discouraging in the weight sense , but I do feel much better in energy wise. I just wish that it was something that I could do to lose more weight . I exercise , make recipes from the Wheat belly cookbook , and I am going right by the book. What can I do to speed up the weight loss ?

    • Dr. Davis

      Have you reviewed all the items on this checklist, Kathy?

      You will more than likely find at least one item to address.

  16. Faye

    Dr. Davis,
    When you say “Lose the dairy” does that mean all cultured cheeses too? I’m not getting the weight loss results that I should be getting, as extremely conscientious as I’m being, so I need to try to do something different. I am completely off dairy other than cheeses–extra sharp cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, and gouda. Since cheeses fall into the “unlimited” category, although I know that unlimited does not literally mean unlimited, I wonder if I’m eating too much cheese.

    I have my 6 month thyroid panel this week and an appointment with my PCP next week so we will know if I need to adjust those meds.

    Do I need to start counting calories?

    My doctor prescribed metformin ER off label to see if that would help with weight loss, but it didn’t and made me really sick during the night so I stopped taking it last week. Should I try to stick with that, although it makes me feel horrible every day until about noon.

    I love reading all the success stories and seeing the before and after pictures, but I’m just not getting those results and at the rate I’m going maybe by the time I’m 100, assuming I live that long, I might lose 50 pounds.

    • > … “Lose the dairy” does that mean all cultured cheeses too?

      This appears to be an issue specific to weight loss (“Some people are susceptible to the “insulinotrophic” action of whey …”). Normally, cheeses are fine, other than for people who have an unresolved dairy sensitivity.

      > I have my 6 month thyroid panel this week and an appointment with
      > my PCP next week so we will know if I need to adjust those meds.

      If you have a thyroid problem, “… even marginal thyroid dysfunction is present, or undertreated hypothyroidism, it can completely block weight loss.”. Are you obtaining FT3, FT4 and RT3 labs (they are not in the ‘standard’ thyroid panel)? What meds are prescribed?

      > Do I need to start counting calories?

      Have you counted net carbs yet? If not, intake might be higher than you’d guess. Note that counting calories isn’t even on the list of usual suspects in weight loss stall.

      • Faye

        Just started counting carbs this week. I’m shooting for under 30g except on a day when I want a banana instead of blueberries for my fruit.

        Thyroid med: levothyroxine.

        • > … except on a day when I want a banana instead of blueberries for my fruit.

          A banana is over 40 grams net carb all by itself, and nearly 12 grams sugars, half of which is fat-magnet-fructose. See:
          and/or the book “The Fat Switch” (Johnson).

          > Thyroid med: levothyroxine.

          That’s just T4, according to wiki. If I were working on resolving a thyroid problem (and it could happen, with my family history), perhaps the first question I would ask the physician is:
          “Do you ever prescribe T3 or dessicated thyroid?”.
          If the answer is no, you are not dealing with a care provider who is prepared to provide for your care. See the book “Stop the Thyroid Madness” (Bowthorpe) for the back story.

          • Faye

            I thought a small fresh banana was just over 20g net carbs (according to the Atkins Carb Counter) and blueberries 9g for half a cup. Guess I’ll avoid the bananas for awhile.

            In preparation for my dr. appt I have been reading up on dessicated thyroid. We have not discussed it, but then, I didn’t know we should be.


          • > I thought a small fresh banana was just over 20g net carbs …

            I could be mistaken, but you are the one deciding. Check multiple sources.

            > … been reading up on dessicated thyroid. We have not
            > discussed it, but then, I didn’t know we should be.

            The thyroid diagnosis and management situation is at least as screwed up as the diabetes and CVD situation. See here:

            Cookie-cutter doctors will run a standard panel that measures TSH (pituitary response, which is a weak proxy for thyroid function) and total T4 (which is about as useful as total cholesterol). They then misread what those results tell them. If they think there’s a problem, they prescribe only T4, instead of what is actually needed. If they are even tempted to precribe T3, they think you can’t manage your own dosage (which requires more attention than T4, which often doesn’t help, but has low OD risk).

        • lovetulears

          Note: after years of my thyroid levels going up and down, my doctor has found the culprit: generic drugs may work for some conditions, but not the thyroid. You must take Synthroid. Once I switched, my levels have been the same for years!

          • > You must take Synthroid.

            Glad it’s working for you, but Synthroid is just T4 (Levothyroxine), which doesn’t work for many people with hypothyroid. They also need T3 (or Armour, Naturethroid , or dessicated thyroid) which the unpleasant majority of MDs refuse to prescribe, because they are ignorant, serfs to big pharma, or they think you can’t manage your own dosage of T3.

            There’s a book out there titled “Stop the Thyroid Madness” which describes this insane situation, which is quite analogous to the insane cholesterol situation (i.e. measure the wrong things : misdiagnose : mis-prescribe : invoice).

  17. Lisa

    I have been wheat free for about a month and really haven’t felt badly about losing bread, etc… I do miss beer but have substituted wine and wheat-free vodka instead on occasion. I haven’t weighed myself but I feel as though I have lost a few pounds – perhaps 5 – but definitely not the dramatic 20+ pound loss that some people describe. I only eat cheese, turkey/chicken, fish, salad, raw almonds, vegetables and some fruit. I have a homemade fruit smoothie for breakfast (melon, berries, kiwi, some almond milk) and 2 additional apples per day. Am I not losing more weight due to the fruit?

      • Lisa

        Yes, I have been through the checklist. I drink sufficient coffee and don’t take any meds which might affect weight loss. I had my thyroid checked a few years ago but can do it again. The only culprit that I can think of is the fruit. I can easily cut out the breakfast fruit smoothie and probably 1 apple to see if that makes a difference. I can also switch completely to wheat-free vodka, which has no carbs.

        I really had envisioned that I would have lost more weight just by cutting out the wheat because I used to eat a lot of bread.

        • Dr. Davis

          And that is usually what happens. So it’s likely that something is impeding your progress.

          Thyroid dysfunction has become such a common thing–partly due to wheat, partly due to other factors, especially iodine deficiency and exposure to organochemicals that disrupt thyroid function–that a thorough evaluation can be very helpful.

          • Lisa

            Starting yesterday, I cut out all fruit but for 1 apple and the alcohol. I won’t be able to have my thyroid checked for a few weeks so we’ll see if the diet change is the variable which allows progress to resume.

          • Faye

            My doctor will not even think about adding T3 to my levothyroxine. I showed him some journal articles from May 2013 that showed that replacing T4 with T3 or combining them caused subjects to observe “significant weight loss” (although no significant change in TSH, or quality of life).
            When I asked him about T3 and why I was interested in it, he said “it won’t help.” Explained that the T4 I’m taking converts to T3, except when it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t my TSH would be high. It is 1.71, “well within normal range.” The sweet spot as he calls it. He only tests for TSH (although last time I asked him to test Free T4 and Free T3 too) and for my next visit, which will be my physical, 3rd gen TSH is all he ordered.

            I don’t know how to find a physician who will do more comprehensive thyroid testing or try something other than the “golden standard.”

    • Barbara in New Jersey


      Yes, you are quite right. The nuts, almond milk and fruits are putting you way over the 15 carb per meal or 6 hour period or 45 carbs in a day. Try to look up the carbs on them. The fruits alone have way too much sugar in them for you to lose any weight. Your 2 apples alone have enough carbs for your entire day. The alcohol will stop weight loss also. It takes days to recover from the excess sugar and extra carbs. If you have been grain free for only a month, then you are doing as best as can be expected considering your carb intake and alcohol.

      • Lisa

        Thanks very much. I am going to cut out the fruit smoothie (with the almond milk) and limit myself to 1 apple per day. The wheat-free vodka has no carbs so hopefully that won’t impact too much.

        • Barbara in New Jersey

          The alcohol is processed by your liver. You want your liver to release all the fats it has stored and help the belly fats to diminish. When you drink while in the weight loss phase, you stop this process for a few days up to a week or so while your liver deals with the alcohol.

          • Lisa

            Barbara, thanks again for your quick reply. I had no clue about the alcohol – really thought it was a matter of the carbs. I had thought that a glass of wine or straight vodka (no mixers) was okay even during the weight loss phase.

  18. Abbey

    I didn’t think I had to count carbs ! And thought red wine was ok ! Had two glasses and gained 2lbs!!! I enjoy full fat cheese and the raw nuts thought we could eat without counting anything , h e l p

  19. Colleen

    I have been wheat for 21/2 months and have actually gained weight. Depressing. I watch very closely what I eat, eat very low carb already, I believe I don’t ‘over eat’ however I did get my thyroid tested (tsh T3 & T4) all levels are extremely low so I am now on synthroid 75mg. I plan to stick with the no wheat – meaning I won’t eliminate dairy yet. How long do you think it will take to notice a difference with the thyroid medication ?

    • Dr. Davis

      You’re going to hate this, Colleen: Taking Synthroid will likely yield minimal to no benefits.

      This is because Synthroid is the T4 thyroid hormone and most people require both T4 and the much more important T3. When you add T3 (as Naturethroid or Armour thyroid that contain both) or as a separate liothyronine pill, that’s when everything starts to fall in place. Unfortunately, most physicians are completely oblivious to this, as they received their thyroid education from the sales representative for Synthroid.

      You may need a new doctor, preferably someone in functional medicine, who understands these simple issues.

  20. New Journey

    This post really helped me clear a few things up! Thanks Dr. Davis! I’ve been on a weight loss roller coaster for 13 years now after being diagnosed with Graves Disease at the age of 17. After many failed attempts of keeping my weight down, I was led to your book and I just finished reading it this month. I’ve been off of wheat for a little over two weeks, but I’ve been making the grave mistake of eating processed “gluten-free” food! Oops! It’s communities like this one that’s going to help me to become like that happy vibrant 17 year old again before her whole world came crashing down. So thanks for sending your message out into the world and to everyone else on here too.

      • Shawna

        Paul, eating gluten free is the idea but the processed gluten free products you can buy, especially the baked goods or baking mixes contain other starches and grains which are high in carbohydrates and contribute to weight gain or to not losing any weight.

  21. Jennifer Laporte

    My husband and I have been wheat free and basically carb free for 1 month. He has lost 10 lbs and I haven’t lost any. I fluctuate 4-5 points back and forward. I am already on T4 Armoir Thyroid and at the correct level since my last check up 6 months ago. I don’t eat much during the day and my biggest meal is diner. I’m basically eating cheddar cheese, eggs, and nuts. I do some chicken and seafood on the dinner meals. I’m drinking about 48 ounces of water a day. What am I missing?????

    • > I am already on T4 Armoir Thyroid …

      I understand Armour to be a T4+T3 preparation, or are you on something different?

      > … and at the correct level since my last check up 6 months ago.

      “Correct” based on FT3, FT4 & RT3 labs, or just TSH and total T4?

    • A balanced diet. You need veggies, lean meat and fish and a moderate amount of fruit to round out everything. You do not need cheese, but eggs are okay. I am diary sensitive, it gives me diarrhea, so I don’t do any diary. I eat eggs, lots and lot of veggies, the green leafy kind, no potatoes of any kind, no grains of any kind, although I do cheat occasionally and have a small portion of rice pasta. You need to learn to love carrots, brussels sprouts, broccoli, celery, mushrooms, cauliflower, eggplant and ripe and green olives. You will not miss the cheese. And for snacks, instead of fruit (high sugar content) try raw pumpkin seeds. They are filling and you really have to chew which is very satisfying.

  22. Faye

    Ordered my own thyroid tests.

    TSH 1.77
    Free T4 1.85 ng/dL
    Free T3 2.4 pg/mL
    RT3 37.2 ng/dL

    I’m on 150 mcg levothyroxine per day. Do these numbers indicate that I’m converting T4 to RT3 instead of T4 to T3?

    Could this be why I’m not losing weight? I’ve been extremely conscientious about grains and carbs (I’m in ketosis), and exercise daily.

  23. A reasonable diet. Your diets should include fresh and leant meat and fishes. You should avoid the fast food completely. You need to study to love carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, celery, mushrooms, and cauliflower, eggplant and ripe and green olives.

  24. Paul

    I have been wheat free for 3 weeks and have lost 12 pounds.
    Breakfast : String cheese and raw almonds with black coffee.
    Lunch: chef salad with vinegar only. No creamy dressings.
    Dinner: fish or skinless chicken. Sometimes steak with steamed vegetables.
    I feel great. My clothes fit great.
    I have found sorghum based beer if I really want one, but its rare.
    Fruit only early in the morning due to sugar content
    My bloating is GONE!
    I feel like I’m 18 again

  25. Lisa

    Still trying to figure out why I have only lost 4-5 pounds despite being wheat free since July 19. I eat cheese and raw almonds for breakfast together with coffee. Lunch is either plain sliced turkey, cheese/raw almonds or a salad with lots of vegetables, chicken and olive oil. Dinner is usually a salad with vegetables, chicken and olive oil or fish with a vegetable. I have limited myself to 1 apple per day and 1 drink – either sorghum beer or carb-free vodka on the rocks. I used to eat a ton of bread and drink 2 wheat beers/day. I am literally eating much less than I used to and I have not cheated at all. Something does not jive.

    I take one unusual medication: Forteo, an injectable medication for osteoporosis/fractures. Dr. Davis:Could that be causing the plateau? I have to take the Forteo daily for the next year.

    I have not had my thyroid checked yet but plan to.

    • Barbara in New Jersey


      Your apple alone probably has more carbs in it than the recommended 15 per meal per 6 hour period. Of course, it depends on the size and kind of apple for an accurate carb count.
      Check the carb profile of your veggies too.
      Any alcohol you drink keeps your liver in the burning sugar mode for many days. You want your liver to be burning fat. The more you drink and the closer together (days) your drinks are, the fat burning just doesn’t occur because your liver cannot utilize both sugar and fat when it is working to clear the alcohol from your system..

      Before you spend money and time on having your thyroid checked, why don’t you carefully limit your carbs to the recommended 50 per day and stop drinking alcoholic beverages until you reach your weight goal.

  26. laura

    Do I need to count the carbs in vegetables? Like peas? How about in gum? Why are there carbs in gum anyway? How ridiculous.

    • Yes, count the carbs in vegetables too…..some, such as parsnips, certain squashes, yams, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, cassava have higher carb values…..(total carbs minus fiber = net carbs.). Peas, which are in the legume family, have a high carb value as well.

      • Barbara in New Jersey

        Gum has sugar in it. That is why it has carbohydrate value. The idea is to eat foods with lower carbs. Starchy things always have high carbs. So do sweet things including fruit.

    • Tony

      Hi Laura,
      How much weight are you looking to lose and how quickly?
      If you want to lose it rapidly you need to get your carbs down to under 50g per day. A cup of peas contains 13g of carbs so that would be all the carbs you get to eat in one meal. And you do need to count them in vegetables because on this regimen that’s pretty much where all your carbs will come from necessarily. I would concentrate on salad greens, cucumbers, mushrooms, green bell peppers, and such. Keep in mind that things like avocados, cheese, nuts all have carbs so you need to keep track of how much of that food you eat, it is really easy to have your carbs creep up on you without noticing. Atkins people advise to count sugar free gum as 1g of carb per gum. Once you do it for a week or so you’ll get a pretty good grip on it. I use myfitnesspal app online and on my phone, it helps a lot.

      You asked the other day what somebody eats on the daily basis and I posted one day of my eating here:

      As you can see there’s plenty of good food to eat, you’re simply replacing dense carbs with fat, no need to starve.

  27. Eryn

    Dr Davis-
    I take .85 naturethroid daily, and my levels are OK. I looked at the list of possible “stalls”, and I’m desperate for answers. In Jan ’13 my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia and was in the hospital for the first 30 days, and I stayed in with her. (To say I was stressed is an understatement!) 8 months later she is cancer-free (yay) but during those months I put on weight at a scary-rapid pace…30 lbs. to be exact! My question is, how much of a role can stress play in that type of rapid weight gain and what other things might be at play that I’m missing? p.s. I’m in first year of menopause as well. ;-/

  28. I don’t really know where to post this, but I have Addison’s disease and take hydrocortisone daily. I have been wheat free (thanks to Dr. Davis’ appearance on the D. Oz show) for almost 4 months now. I have not lost any weight, nor have I lost any inches, but I do feel so much better. I was wondering if the HC could be interfering with me losing weight? Any opinions anyone?

    • Barbara in New Jersey

      Yes, you may need to adjust the amount of hydrocortisone you are taking. As the inflammation from grains and sugars leave your body, all systems start to work better. Any medications should be adjusted periodically. Too much hydrocortisone is known to cause weight gain and prevent weight lose.

      Why don’t you have another lab test done on your adrenal function if you want to be sure. Many people report that they can lower their medication amounts the longer they start on a grain and sugar free diet.

  29. Val McCoy

    I was wondering if eating according to your blood type has anything to do with unsuccessful weightloss like myself. I emailed one gal who has lost a huge amount of weight going wheat and sugar free, and she replied she is type O, which are to eat low carb Paleo type diet. I started wheat free (took a pic) July 7 and have only lost 4 lbs by today. It’s very discouraging. I’m an A+ blood type, suppose be vegetarian. I wonder if that’s why I have not lost weight like so many others here have. I need to lose 30 lbs. Dr. Davis, have you explored eating for your blood type? The limited proteins I am allowed are fish and chicken.

  30. Lizz

    I have done all of the above (no grains, no dairy, no sugar, no hidden gluten in my bioidentical hormones, etc.) for a month, but I am not seeing any weight loss on the scale. My thyroid is within normal limits (tested within the last 3 months). I suplemented with iodine last year and kick started my hormonal system again (you and I discussed that previously). I drink Kangen water, take Tumeric, and I even practice Zumba 4 x per week. The scale won’t budge. My tummy isn’t responding either. This is so frustrating. Am I missing something? Are there any hidden gluten sources that I should be aware of? Or maybe I need more Iodine than most people. Thanks!

    • unterderlaterne

      Liz, I am in in the same situation . I never ever cheat! Started this grain free life in May , lost 2 pounds, which now are back! I had a good cry yesterday, lol! I just want to loose 10 pounds!
      My thyroid is normal . I will continue however since the inflammation in my body has gone down and I suffer less pain from my RA.
      I am happy for all these people that are dropping pounds like crazy!
      But in our case-what is one to do?

      • Barbara in New Jersey

        Liz and Unterderlanterne,

        Dr. Andre Keech gave a lecture on The Glutin Summit about colostrum. Try to listen or do an internet search. Very interesting because he discusses how this calms down the immune system and helps your intestines and lots more. Worth investigating if you have any kind of auto-immune problem.

  31. WannaGetWell

    20 pounds since the beginning of July. Slowly….slowly…

    Some have told me that I don’t eat enough fat. So I’ve started using more coconut oil and Kerrygold butter. And olive oil. I would like the weight to come off much faster.

    It has been nearly a month since I was able to add T3 to my thyroid meds. I have adrenal tests next month so we shall see. I’ve been traveling quite a bit and although I manage most of the time to be very low carb (and almost always wheat & sugar free, except when I eat something that turns out to have wheat or sugar in it), sometimes what you are served at a dinner has bad things sneaked in. After a conference next week I should be able to have much more control over what I eat because I won’t be eating out or at banquets!

    • Barbara in New Jersey


      Your weight loss is a little over a pound per week. That’s good! Especially when you consider that you often don’t know the ingredients in the foods you are eating because of your travel schedule.
      You might try bulletproof coffee (coffee or tea with grassfed butter, MCT oil &/or coconut oil) in it as a way to increase your fat intake. Google “bulletproof coffee” for more information. Don’t forget to keep hydrated.

      Everyone reacts a bit differently concerning weight loss. Many people plateau for a while, even though good changes are happening on the inside. Thyroid meds sometimes takes time to “work”.
      In the meantime, stay encouraged. 20 lbs is 20 lbs!

      • GrainFree4Ever

        Another way to get fat into the diet is to put a dollop of butter onto your vegetables like our Grandparents used to do.

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  33. violet

    same problem here. since march 2013 wheatfree but no weight loss. diagnosed with adrenal fatigue though. tried everything. acupuncture worked for some time but have to come back 1 a week. thyroid medication did not work so doctor told me I did not take them (luckily http://www.adrenalfatigue.org mentioned that this is possible so the adrenals should be adressed first). tried shakes did not lose weight. and this week start support of the adrenals. I do not see info adressing the correlation adrenals , weightloss. and wheat free eating. as stress is stress for the body I am convinced the wheat free eating is one of the parts to be done for healing from adrenal fatigue. has somebody else experience with this as well and some tips for me? (allergic for cheese and yoguart). violet

    • Violet I do know the correlation between the three, You need to read a book by Dr. Mark Starr Hypothyroidism II http://21centurymedicine.com If I remember correctly after reading his book he did say that Adrenal had to be treated first. He posted so much research that had been conducted by dr. Broda Barnes foundation. I can however suggest if you have any further question to contact http://Livingproofinstitute.com. They treat every patient with functional treatment on a cellular level and offer a free 15 minute consultation call. Dr. Patel called me and he spent well over 45 minutes on the phone with me about questions I had and totally the supplements he reccommended are working. Im just found out last week that my health Care provider is practicing functional treatment. Which is a godsend for me and my family. It works better for us. It sounds as if your health care practicioner is old conventional medicine treatments. the NIH is currently working on changing the standard of care due to all the science behind nutrition and health on a cellular level. Versus treating on condition at time. There is research from john hoptkins University on the curing of Cancer linked to nutrition.