1500 calories LESS per day . . . and a question

A reader who calls himself “Not Hungry in NC” posted this wonderful story along with an important question at the end:

My story:
Was advised to read Wheat Belly by a friend who’d had success with it. Started wheat free (and generally low carb) eating on Jan 1, 2013.

I was 6-1′, 237lbs then. Within two weeks, was down to 225lbs, and am currently at 215lbs.

I’ve seen the critics who call this just another diet fad. But let me explain why I think it’s different. First, I *love* food and love eating. So losing weight is hard for me as I lack the necessary self-control. Seeing food makes me hungry. Beyond the substantial weight loss (which the critics would claim is due to the ultra low-carb diet which often is not sustainable), the biggest thing I notice is that I AM NOT HUNGRY. I am consuming upwards of 1500 calories less per day [emphasis mine!] than I was, primarily through eliminating most beverages other than water, wheat products and most starches. But I am less hungry now than ever before.

I used to be hungry all the time, regardless of how much I ate. Now I can go all day without eating anything more than an omelet or a banana for breakfast, and by dinner time I am only mildly hungry, and quickly get full with just a normal portion of salmon, steak, shrimp or chicken and side of some kind of fresh vegetables. If I feel like a snack during the day, I am satisfied with a small handful of nuts or a few slices of a good cheese. The simple fact that I am not hungry is going to be the key to sustainability and losing the additional 15lbs that I need to shed.

Second thing that is different, and I’ll admit I was somewhat skeptical about this when reading the book: I’ve had an arthritic condition in my left elbow that has gotten increasingly worse over the past 2 years to the point where I’d lost about 30% of the range of motion and was in constant pain. I’ve been to orthopaedic doctors, chiropractors, and very painful physical therapy. I’ve had x-rays and MRI’s. And nobody could even diagnose what the problem was, much less come up with any meaningful treatment plan. So let’s just say that when reading the book, I was hopeful (albeit somewhat doubtful) that eliminating wheat would help my elbow. It’s probably the main reason that I actually tried the wheat free diet, as the pain progression, along with exhausting all medical options, was really starting to concern me.

After 6 weeks of wheat-free, I was a bit disappointed that there was no noticeable difference in the elbow. I stuck with it at that point because of the weight loss and lack of hunger and cravings benefits. And then, after about week 8, I began to notice improvements in range of motion and reduced pain. After 10 weeks, the range of motion is now at about 90% of normal, and the pain and stiffness is mostly gone: amazing progress in just two weeks. I’m by nature a skeptical person, so I have racked my brain trying to think of what other things I may have changed to cause this improvement (especially since there was an 8 week lag in seeing ANY improvement), but I have to say that there is nothing else that has changed that would explain it.

Bottom line is that I am sold and plan to remain wheat free! I will say that I’m not a die-hard, and I do allow the occasional bite of bread or a few bites of a cream-based soup that may contain wheat. But compared to my previous consumption, my overall wheat intake has been reduced by at least 95%. I probably should be more serious about NO wheat, but I actually take pleasure in the fact that I can take a bite of bread at a restaurant without feeling like I have to eat the whole thing. Previously I did not have the self-control to do that and cravings would take over and result in overconsumption.

Would be interested in other people’s thoughts on this topic – do you really need to eliminate ALL wheat, or do you think some wheat in very small quantities is OK. Obviously those with celiac or high degree of gluten intolerance would not be able to, but what’s OK for the rest of us? Are the benefits/drawbacks linear (meaning that they scale with the amount consumed), or are they binary (meaning any amount is going to trigger bad things). Please post replies and let me know the thinking on this.

Isn’t that something? I’ve seen so many miraculous things happen with the wheat-free experience, but I never tire of hearing these stories!

But I do believe that wheat is an all-or-none proposition. Cutting back, say, 90% does not yield 90% of the benefits; it yields something like 30-50%. It also actually makes life harder. This is because:

–It takes very little exposure to the gliadin protein of wheat to trigger appetite. One exposure, for instance, can stimulate appetite for up to 5 days. 200 calories in a wheat-based roll or bagel can result in thousands of calories of increased food intake over the next several days.
–The inflammatory effects, especially those involving autoimmunity, can be triggered by very small quantities of antigen, i.e., whatever wheat-sourced immune-stimulating polypeptide that was responsible for triggering the response. It would be very easy to re-provoke joint inflammation.
–Small exposures to the gliadin protein increase intestinal permeability, a process largely below conscious perception . . . until you develop rheumatoid arhthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, or over 70 other autoimmune processes.
–Every bit of wheat raises blood sugar extravagantly. This is a clear-as-day effect, listed on all tables of glycemic index, that most dietitians choose to ignore. Every time blood sugar goes high, you glycate proteins of your body irreversibly: the proteins in the lenses of your eyes (cataracts), the cells of your cartilage (brittle cartilage, arthritis), small LDL particles (8-fold more glycation-prone than large LDL particles, thereby more oxidation- and inflammation-prone), lining of arteries (hypertension, endothelial dysfunction), among other effects.

It is similar to cigarette smoking: Does cutting back from 2 packs per day to 5 cigarettes a day yield nearly all the benefits of not smoking? No: You experience only a small fraction of the full benefit.

Wheat, like smoking, is an all-or-none proposition. But what other food can reduce a man’s calorie intake by 1500 calories per day . . . without hunger? And reduce/eliminate inflammation at the same time?!

This entry was posted in Gliadin, Inflammation, Wheat-elimination success stories. Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to 1500 calories LESS per day . . . and a question

  1. Claudia says:

    Not Hungry in NC – great story – congratulations!
    For me personally (unfortunately), I don’t seem to have any immediate negative physical effects (ie bloating, indigestion, aches & pains etc.) when I eat wheat knowingly (which has been quite rare in the last year), however, I do notice that I get down in the dumps for a week to 10 days following ingestion of wheat. So, for me, it’s better to stay away from it
    But I’ve been experiencing problems with major carb cravings since I quite smoking 3 – 4 mos ago, which I am really having a tough time with – and end up indulging in too many “gluten free” carbs
    So, many of the positve benefits of quitting wheat (19 lb weight loss, better dental health, lower blood sugar, more energy, reversal of anemia, etc.) have been tempered with my increased carb intake
    and my addictive brain tells me that I might as well eat wheat if there’s no real benefit to not eating it
    I would appreciate some advice and suggestions
    Been looking into “bullet proof coffee” for breakfast – haven’t tried it yet – thoughts?

    • Suzanne says:

      Bullet proof coffee is one of the best things ever invented! I use only butter (50-55 grams) and coffee most mornings, but sometimes put in a dollop of ecological coconutoil. My stomach is not too fond of coconutoil when breaking my fast in the mornings but does not protest too loudly if i mix it with fullfat yoghurt and frosen (or fresh) berries instead.

      • james says:

        Wholeheartedly agree on that (bulltproof coffee). My wife and I are having it every morning but contrary to other people, we also have it with foods (omelet, bacon, steak salad, whatever quick and nutritious stuff we have). That is because we can go on our business until very early evening or late afternoon without feeling hungry or thinking about food whatsoever. We then prepare a reasonable dinner (veggies, meat or fish) and spend most of the evening without thinking about food either :)

        Looks like the best meal rhythm so far for us, no snacking in between, only green / rooibos tea or water.

        But I would stress the importance of getting very high quality coffee (look up BP coffee for details on the dedicated site).

        J.

  2. Janzo says:

    I went WB six months ago, and aside from testing once or twice, have not eaten wheat or grains since. The inconvenience of the diet restriction (and the annoyance whenever I have to walk down the bread/cracker aisle at the grocery store!) is NOTHING compared to how good I feel, how low my pre-diabetes has dropped (near normal when I can exercise regularly), how clearly I can think. The two greatest gifts have been that I no longer fight a constant sweet tooth and food cravings, and the painful lack of mobility, especially in my shoulders, is nearly gone. My muscles and tendons were as tight as rubber bands, I had two bouts of tendinitis in a year, and could barely put my forearm behind my back when I started. Now I can move again, have boundless energy, the depression is gone. When I’ve tested by eating some wheat (a piece of pizza), I noticed it just didn’t taste very good, and I was quite depressed the next day. Other times when I’ve had “just a little”, I noticed the food cravings came back.

    Co-workers asked me the other day, “Oh, but can’t you just have a LITTLE? It’s not like YOU need to lose weight!” I explained that what I have gained by losing the wheat was so valuable to me that I simply have not been interested in giving in. This is yet another, unexpected, benefit of being wheat-free: the longer I go without it, the more I realize I don’t need it. And for ME to say that I’m not even interested in the home-made gourmet cookies on the table, well, that’s just a flat-out miracle.

    At age 55, I feel better — physically and emotionally — than I have in my entire life, and I now feel I have a chance of avoiding some of the medical issues that are so prevalent today. Thank you Dr. Davis, this is probably one MORE life you’ve saved!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Wonderful, Janzo, truly wonderful!

      Stories like yours remind me just how important this simple message is. Thanks for telling it!

  3. Alan Butcher says:

    what about the other grains ?
    i have been wheat free for 6 months with great results in all areas of my health.
    however i continue to eat two large plates of porridge every day – this would be 2 – 3 cups of uncooked rolled oats measured out then cooked OR two cups of raw brown rice eaten cooked.
    the only thing i have dropped is wheat.

    • Boundless says:

      Work out the net carbs per meal.
      You will find that it is sky high …. way more than 15 grams.
      Or you can check your blood sugar, which will also be sky high.

      Dump the oats entirely.
      Limit the rice.

  4. Susan says:

    I also have been less (panicky) hungry since eliminating wheat for almost a month (have to admit also that I have had a few weak moments). And since I am hypoglycemic, I AM VERY HAPPY AND SURPRISED! I feel more in control of my cravings then ever before. I have not lost weight yet, but it is bearable since i have results with other areas in my life. I was defined by hunger and cravings. I was obsessed with food and getting enough to make myself feel better physically, and when the low was low, I was like an out of control beast. I am not sure who else understands what it feels like to for the first time (in my adult life), not to have the majority of my day thinking about my next meal. My parents turned me on to your book. My mom’s rosacea has cleared up, and my dad’s chronic dry, scaly skin on his face is nearly gone since they went wheat-free. The hardest part is to try it and commit for most people. We expect most things to not work I guess, thinking they are fads or that reviews are faked to generate sales, but this is not the case with Wheat Belly. Thanks so much for freeing me!

  5. Pingback: 1500 calories LESS per day . . . and a question | Fatloss Factor Results

  6. Linnae says:

    I started grain-free and sugar free 1 1/2 weeks ago, but have been eating low carb for about six months. I’m disappointed that even still I can’t seem to budge one bloody pound of the 20 I want to lose. I don’t drink soda, I drink 1/2 gallon of water a day, try to do a higher fat (not a low fat person.)
    What am I doing wrong?

    • Olive says:

      Hi Linnae -

      Yes same with us. We have been wheat free one month, and still not seen any results. We have asked for some suggestions here, but no help with this one??? We are disappointed also, but we will continue to stay on it.

    • Margaret says:

      I, too, have not lost any weight since going GF. I am now on metformin for insulin resistance and still have not lost an ounce.

      BTW, my doctor said to drink half my body weight in ounces of water a day.

    • Lisa Sagona says:

      I completely agree, did you get a response because I am in the same boat. HELP! We bought the Wheat Belly Book, read it, gave up EVERYTHING Wheat and Grain and yet I’m not losing weight [and in fact I’m gaining]. I eat only lean protein and veggies. Maybe fruit once per day, have even given up everything dairy with the exception of cheese [maybe 2 x’s per day]. I do allow a snack of nuts or seeds [but didn’t it say we were allowed to have that]. HELP, why isn’t this working? I’ve given in FOUR weeks. I feel AMAZING! I’m sleeping better and even a cyst I had on my finger has disappeared…but I’m not losing weight.
      Signed, feeling like getting me some wheat, in Johnson City TN

  7. Jenn says:

    I started Wheat Belly Feb 1. A couple of slip ups in February but by March 1, I truly had more energy, focus, far less ‘old age aches’ (inflammation), less bloating/flatter belly, with 4 pounds lost. I started to remove more than just the wheat from diet, feeling better with each day as I re-read the book and practiced scrutinizing every label. Then yesterday I slipped, and at 3:30am began experiencing the symptoms. I had agreed to teach a class for the local college, and was provided lunch yesterday. to avoid pizza and subs,I ended up with a 1/2 garden panini, hoping this small amount of bread would be tolerable. At 3:30 this morning I awoke, and have been unable to sleep. At 4, I began sneezing, then runny nose and watery eyes, like an allergic reaction. My belly is bloated and gassy, not a pleasant feeling. At 5am, from misery, I decided I would have to have a Benadryl and a Bayer Back&body aspirin. The latter to deal with the dull ache in my neck and shoulders, which had been gone for several weeks. My ‘old age aches’ returned along with this sudden allergic reaction. No more wheat for me!

  8. Anne Ralls says:

    Dr. Davis,
    I have been wheat free for about six months and am getting very comfortable with it. I am Type 2 diabetic and am about 20 pounds overweight. Prior to going wheat free I lost 20 pounds and saw my A1C driop 3 points. My doctor says if I lose this last 20 pounds I will likely totally reverse my condition. I am having some confusion on what to focus on to lose this weight with the new diet. Initially I did not count calories while doing WB and I have felt healthier but only maintained my weight, not lost. Now I am cutting down on calories and exercising 2 hours a day. The weight is dropping slowly but so is my energy level. Some evenings I don’t even have enough energy to make dinner and go straight to bed. Can you offer some tips on how to lose weight and keep balanced while doing a WB diet? Any advice would be appreciated.
    Anne Ralls

  9. bruce thomas says:

    Can you eat only a little wheat and still be “wheat free”, you ask. Can a woman be only slightly pregnant?! There’s your answer.

  10. Nathalie says:

    This story is helping my motivation which has been very very low in the last 2 weeks. I am at least 30 lbs (height 5.2 and starting weight 168 lbs) overweight and started the Wheat belly diet mid-January after listening to the book on tape. In the first 2 weeks i lost 6 lbs without having to go to the gym. Since I have only lost 1 lb. to hower between 161 and 162 lbs. It has been like this for the past 8 weeks and i am tempt to stop since my belly looks bigger. I do enjoy not having cravings but would like to see the results others are getting. I strickly adhere to the recipes in Dr. Davis book but am starting to despair as you can tell. Any advice or helpful tips from those who have lost??

  11. Thanks for finally writing about > 1500 calories LESS per day .
    . . and a question | Wheat Belly Blog < Liked it!

  12. cori says:

    Breakfast is usually coconut water shakes (or almond milk) with low carb protein and greens with frozen berries. lunch …lot’s of protein and veggies…grassfed butter and coconut oil for fats. yesterday was passover…I have no idea what was in the sauces at dinner and I had a small amout of matzo less then 1/4 pc. but I did have some (less than half a cup) sweet potatoes and prunes which is a traditional dish called Tszmis ..TPO was 53 in April ANA positive 1;320 nucleolar TSH 2.6 T4 8.6 T3 31% changed doctors… last blood work Jan 13 TSH 2.71 T4 7.9 T3 92ng ANA just says pos w/ RNP 2.0 TPO was not ordered. ….I am in Boca Raton Fl can anyone suggest where or who I should go to?

    • Jan says:

      Dr. sears in Palm Beach?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      My good friend, Dr. David Blyweiss, is in Boca Raton.

      He is a genius, though a bit tough to get into his office.

      • Karin Peters says:

        Dr. Davis,
        Can you recommend someone for me to see in Tx? I’m in College Station, Tx, not too far from Houston and Dallas/FW. I too have a positive ANA speckled of 1:320

        Here are the rest of my results all taken a week and a half after starting wheat belly:
        Free T4 – 1.21 (0.76-1.46)
        T4 Total – 12.0 (5.0-10.8)
        TSH – 1.84 (0.36-3.74)
        Free T3 – 2.6 (2.3-4.2) My dr. said the range should be 3.5-4.2
        ANTI SSA AB – Negative
        Anti SSB AB – Negative
        SM Antibody – Negative
        RNP Antibody – Negative
        Anti SCL-70 AB – Negative
        Progesterone and Estrogen were low and I’m being treated with Natural Progesterone Cream
        Symptoms: fatigue, depression, anxiety

        Any suggestions would be MUCH appreciated Dr. Davis! I can say I already feel so much better after starting Wheat Belly on June 1. I have a grass allergy and I suspect that is why I am feeling so much better. My daily headaches, sinus congestion and 10 lbs are all gone. Thank you so much!

        Karin Peters

        • Dr. Davis says:

          Hi, Karin–

          The values are actually favorable. The lowish free T3 may represent nothing more than the start of weight loss minus wheat.

          Because you are relatively new to this experience, you might just give it a few more weeks before you have to undergo lots of costly testing, etc.

          And, sorry, I don’t know anyone in your area that might be helpful. If you need one, a search of “functional medicine” practitioners in your area might be fruitful.

          • Karin Peters says:

            One last question….could the positive ana just be from leftover wheat in my system?

  13. A. Hirt says:

    Hello,

    I just stumbled on this site and this diet. Oddly, I find this diet is missing the OTHER side of the problem. Eating wheat was necessary so that we could survive the famine of winter in Northern Europe. It was a trick we pulled to have food that didn’t decompose while the world around us was covered in snow. However, if you read such things as the zone diet, you realize that we needed both carbohydrate and protein together to survive (the zone diet recommends 1:3 protein to carbohydrate every time you eat; ‘very much a part of our tradition: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, wine and cheese together, etc.). Since you didn’t want to kill your wealth (animals), you needed protein in some other way that wasn’t so drastic as slaughtering your animals whose meat would rot quickly anyway. So instead of pillaging the principle of your wealth, you skimmed the interest. So you’d go out and milk a cow or bleed it and add it to your bread. You’d also kill a newborn calf in the spring and use its rennet to make cheese which wouldn’t go bad over the winter. In short, dairy is the doppelganger of wheat. Do you really think that it’s normally to run out into a field and suck on a wild cow’s udder? Are you nuts? The real evil here is not wheat alone, but the two-headed monster of wheat and dairy (I call it the “Famine Food Diet” since we used to eat this during the famine of winter). A little bit of protein from a small animal (which our teeth can rend) combined with green (not white, root/famine) vegetables and perhaps some fruit is the trick I think. I’ve travelled all over the world and have noticed that people who were not subject to natural selection of the Famine Food Diet in Northern Europe are immensely susceptible to the FFD when it shows up. I’m Northern European white, so my susceptibility is recessive; with aboriginals, the FFD is a full-on, full-bore assault. Giving them blankets with small-pox in them would be considered subtile by comparison to stocking reservation food shelves with the FFD food…

  14. Cranberry says:

    This matches my experience so far. Partial reduction gave partial improvement, total reduction gave AMAZING results.

    About 15 years ago, among other recommendations, a biochemist recommended I avoid bread, except perhaps for rice bread from the freezer section. It was a hard shift at first because I thought it was the yeast I was to avoid and didn’t realize the connection to wheat. So although the experiment did succeed in reducing how much I normally ate bread – instead of toast at breakfast, sandwiches at lunch, and a roll with dinner – I continued to consume bread here and there, including wheat in the form of flatbreads and wraps and the occasional cheat on cookies and people birthday cakes lol … I thought it was solely sugar that I was craving each time.

    I may go into more detail another time about all the health problems I still grappled with despite many remedies and solutions I tried along the way. For now I just want to say that after reading the Wheat Belly Cookbook, followed by the Wheat Belly book itself, I’m 100% wheat-free now for six days and feeling better by the day. The biggest change for me so far is that my “mild facet’s disease” (basically arthritic) inflammation is radically reduced, meaning no pain for me (apart from a mechanical sciatic issue I’m working to resolve) and another awesome effect is that my skin/scalp/ears/nose doesn’t/don’t itch so much, which was driving me mad for the past few decades, made worse by doctors looking at me like it was all in my head.

    The other fabulous result is watching my mother regain some of her former beauty and energy and look 20 years younger in just a matter of a few months. I had started to worry about her declining health but now it’s all I can do to keep up! (Wish I had started sooner …. had thought it was “just another diet book”.)

    (Fifteen years and) six days in, I’m sold on this way of living and with these improvements alone (though I believe there will be more to come…cravings are all gone and I feel like I’m eating like a Queen instead of an addict), feel extremely grateful for Dr. Davis and all those involved in getting this information out to people like me and mine. I hope people will give 100% wheat-free a try and experience it for themselves.

    Thank you for your book. I’ve learned so much from you that I’m enjoying applying to my life and I’m looking forward to other surprise results. Total respect for this initiative.

    I’d like to add that I’m impressed to learn that there is a cardiologist that actually knows coconut oil is GOOD. Wasn’t sure I’d ever see THAT!!!!!!!!!