Review of Wheat Belly Diet/Cookbook
Wheat Belly Diet/Cookbook, written by Willam Davis
Reviewed by Linda Kees, R.D., L.D. May 26, 2013
Most people who are overweight will have symptoms similar to what the author describes (aches, reflux, fatigue, etc.) and it’s usually not related to wheat, it has more to do with poor nutrition in general-too much fat, salt, calories and sugar and too much body fat.
As mentioned many times in the book, “avoiding wheat will cause weight loss”. The author states that avoiding wheat will cause most people to eat 440 less calories/day. Anytime you eat less calories, you may lose weight, the wheat has nothing to do with it.
I do think that in the last 50 years, our food has been genetically altered and not to the advantage of the human body, but to the advantage of the farmer. This has probably caused people to be more sensitive to wheat and doctors are more aware of gluten allergies/celiac disease. However, if you are not sensitive to wheat, I see no advantage in avoiding it.
The author states that increased glucose levels (glycemic index) in your blood can lead to weight gain, which is true. However, when most people eat a meal, they are not just eating wheat, they eat protein and fat also. Combining protein with carbohydrate (including wheat) and fat will help to lower glucose levels. It’s excess calories that cause weight gain, not wheat!
Dr. Oz recently had William Davis (author of Wheat Belly) on as a guest. Dr. Davis was trying to show that wheat products cause a huge increase in the glycemic index. He had several women eat a slice of wheat bread and then a few hours later, eat a candy bar. After eating the bread and candy bar, he checked blood glucose and reported that the bread caused a higher blood glucose than the candy bar. What he failed to remember from medical school (if he ever learned it at all in a nutrition class) is that when you combine fat or protein with a carbohydrate, it will slow absorption and decrease the blood glucose, which was the case with the candy bar vs. bread. How many people eat a plain slice of bread anyway? Most will make a sandwich with fat and protein or at the very least have toast with butter or nut butter. Most people who were watching the show now think that a candy bar is healthier than a slice of wheat bread, how sad is that?
I tried a strict no wheat diet for a week and noticed no difference at all, except for the fact that it was harder to get enough fiber from just fruits/vegetables and my wallet was much lighter. The author also recommends eliminating foods that may have been contaminated by wheat such as oatmeal/oats which is very extreme unless you have a severe gluten allergy.
The recipe recommendations in the book are very high fat (especially saturated fat) and high salt. For example, the Buffalo Chicken with Blue cheese contains: 445 calories, 35 grams fat (12 gms saturated fat) and 695 mg salt. The author states “no worries over weight gain” with his pumpkin pie recipe containing 452 calories and 40 grams fat (15 gm saturated fat). He calls his “No Macaroni ‘n Cheese” healthy. It is hardly healthy with 27 grams of fat, nearly all saturated! I was unable to find any plant based protein dishes.
For the average busy family, most don’t have time to make labor intensive breads, muffins and tortillas as he recommends. He states that store bought gluten-free breads/pastas/tortillas contain starches that increase the glycemic level, but once again, most people will combine the starch with a protein to bring that level down.
Bottom line: I think the author is riding the current fad of gluten free diets. He cites no references or studies to his claims. Although he is an M.D., he does not have any special training in nutrition and is not qualified to write a book recommending people eliminate a large portion of a healthy diet containing wheat or wheat containing products. There is proof throughout the book that he is lacking basic nutrition principles. You would think as a cardiologist, he would be more prudent with saturated fat intakes; or maybe he is trying to increase his patient load? ☺