Dr. Davis is a cardiologist who has studied weight management and fat-related health issues extensively. Not only does he recommend a low carbohydrate diet, he especially singles out wheat as the cause of cravings and the accumulation of belly fat. Davis blames a protein called gliadin for this. Gliadin is found naturally in wheat, especially modern, hybridized wheat. The protein gliadin is converted into a morphine-like chemical when it is digested, making wheat truly addictive. When we stop eating wheat, says Dr. Davis, this addictive cycle is broken, allowing us to lose weight.
The wheat belly diet avoids wheat completely in favor off lean meats (fish and poultry especially), vegetables and nuts. Fruits are not forbidden, but minimized because they digest into simple carbs that can trigger an insulin spike, restarting your cravings.
In his book, Wheat Belly, Dr. Davis explains the impact of wheat on your blood sugar. He says that eating wheat triggers an insulin spike that accelerates the formation of fat cells while the gliadin makes you crave more wheat. His book promises weight loss of up to 50 pounds within the first three months, reduction in symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, candidiasis, rheumatoid arthritis and cholesterol.
The wheat belly diet is not, strictly speaking, a gluten free diet. Gluten is found in wheat, but also in rye, oats, barley, malt and hops. Gluten triggers intestinal inflammation in people suffering from celiac disease and has receive a lot of attention in recent years. Dr. Davis does not suggest eliminating all gluten, just wheat. In most cases, though, finding foods labeled gluten free is much easier than pouring over product labels to identify wheat and its many derivatives.
Eating a truly gluten free diet is somewhat in conflict with Dr. Davis’ recommendation about eating a low carb diet. Gluten free foods can contain a lot of complex carbs, so moderation is particularly important when eating wheat-substitute products.
Could the wheat belly diet work for you? Certainly reducing your carb intake is a step in the right direction, wheat free or not. And many people are discovering that they have a mild allergy to wheat that they never noticed until they eliminated it from their diet. So give it a try and let us know about your success!