Giving up wheat doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, does it? The thought of eliminating “healthy whole grains,” i.e., wheat-based complex carbohydrates, goes against everything you’ve read for the past 30 years. Further, it’s a controversial subject, it goes against conventional wisdom, and the jury is still out. As an independent thinker, judge for yourself.
Over the past 40 years, obesity in the U.S. has skyrocketed, and that increase in weight gain has correlated to the swelling mantra to cut fat from the diet and replace it with “healthy whole grains.” If you give up bread, pasta, pastries, English muffins, bagels, etc., what’s left? Plenty! Wheat is not the only thing contributing to our national weight problem, but its role seems to be every bit as important as sugar.
Wheat Can Be Addictive
How many times have you bought doughnut holes (insert your favorite wheat-based food here) only to eat the entire bag in one sitting while still craving more? Wheat can be addictive, and it can even induce a mild euphoria (but so can exercise). Eliminating wheat can cause nasty withdrawal symptoms for the first five to seven days. After the initial withdrawal, you may find that you no longer crave that muffin or bagel, and your appetite may even decrease.
The reason that “belly fat” is so difficult to lose is that it’s often a different kind of fat, called visceral fat, which surrounds the vital organs. It’s the most dangerous fat, and it’s the most difficult fat to lose. It can also lead to many of those “leading causes of death,” heart attack, stroke, etc. Wheat and sugar contribute to visceral fat, and eliminating both of these can help to reduce visceral fat.
Dramatic Weight Loss
If you’ve lost weight on a low-carb diet, you know the dramatic effect of eliminating wheat and sugar (along with certain other carbohydrates). Reducing carbohydrate intake has been a popular route toward weight loss ever since Dr. Atkins introduced his diet back in the mid-‘70s. Consider how many of the current diets are thinly-veiled facsimiles of the original. You have nothing to lose but weight itself (with apologies to FDR) by eliminating wheat from your diet and replacing it with nutritious whole foods.
Blood Sugar Swings
In Wheat Belly, an eye-opening book by cardiologist William Davis, he states that eating two pieces of whole wheat bread causes a greater swing in blood sugar than eating a candy bar! Eating two pieces of bread for breakfast sets in motion a chain reaction. First, you feel satisfied. Then the pancreas releases insulin to metabolize carbs and sugar. You’re good to go for a couple of hours, and then the morning slump hits, just about the time the pastry cart rolls by your cubicle. Buy a pastry, and repeat the cycle. Now, you’re grazing instead of eating, all the while behind the scenes, those excess carbs are contributing to stubborn, visceral fat!
Insulin Resistance and Diabetes
When you repeat the blood sugar swings above over and over again, your body can become resistant to the effects of insulin, requiring more and more, until the body cannot produce enough. Eventually, this can lead to diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million Americans are diabetic. Another 79 million are prediabetic. That’s 1/3 or the U.S. population. You don’t want to fall into either of these statistical groups.
Try something controversial and go against the flow. Eliminate wheat for a month. It’s just a month, and no one has ever died from bread and pasta deficiency. At the end of that month, you may not even miss wheat. If you’re creative, you will have found other ways to eat bread, pasta, even chocolate chip cookies. Just don’t make it a habit, or you’ll defeat part of the purpose—healthy weight loss.