Wheat Belly is just a repackaged low carb diet.
My sister mentioned that Dr Davis was on the Dr Oz show the other day promoting his New York Times bestselling book Wheat Belly. Catchy title and graphics with a pile of high-carb bagels on the cover, it’s hard to miss. But before you decide to spend your money you may wish to know the facts surrounding wheat not just the folk lore regarding the Staff of Life.
In Davis’s book he tries to lay the foundation for wheat being King of the Carbohydrates. What he means to say is that wheat, more than any other grain or starch, is the most fattening of them all. That means that corn, rice, white potatoes, and all of the other non-fibrous starches run a distant second place when lined up face to face with the notorious Mr Wheat.
How is this claim made? Well one of his foundational comments are that wheat contains 75% amylopectin A (AA) a storage form of starch which is easily broken down by the body’s amylase enzyme into glucose. The other 25% is in the much less bioavailable form amylose. Due to the unique structure of amylopectin A it readily becomes glucose once eaten.
Other starchy foods have amylopectin but in the less easily broken down forms like amylopectin C (AC) such as what is found in beans. This leaves the complex carb AC to travel further into the deep recesses of the bowels to encounter bacteria which are able to cleave the AC bonds and free up the glucose molecules that make it up. These gut bacteria then feast on glucose which produces several metabolic breakdown products one of which gives you the crippling gas you and your dorm-mates look forward to from a huge plate of cowboy food.
With AA it all happens quite rapidly and these sugars are able to pass through the gut and into the blood stream super fast, so quickly in fact that your body may as well be eating a few scoops of table sugar which will actually have less of an impact on blood sugar gram-for-gram than wheat.
Furthermore, he tells us that,
“The amylopectin A of wheat products, complex or no [sic], might be regarded as a supercarbohydrate, a form of highly digestible carbohydrate that is more efficiently converted to blood sugar than nearly all other carbohydrate foods, simple or complex.”
Now here’s the best part.
“This means that not all complex carbohydrates are created equal, with amylopectin A-containing wheat increasing blood sugar more than other complex carbohydrates. The AA…on a gram for gram basis, are..often worse, than even simple carbohydrates such as sucrose [table sugar].”
This must have been a gotcha moment when he realized that a book could be written on the totally unique and super fattening properties found only in wheat.
Yes, Dr Davis reminds us,
“People are usually shocked when I tell them that whole wheat increases blood sugar to a higher level than sucrose.”
Well, except for the last quote everything he says is just another story. I hate to be the one that has to bring this up but Davis performs a classic bait and switch and why the heck didn’t Oz’s people catch this? In fact, as I state in my book he would have been better off calling it grain belly, corn belly, rice belly or potato belly since any one of these monikers would have represented more truth than he filled you with, like a cream cheese slathered bagel, above.
Doesn’t this all add up so far in making for a great story? Although I didn’t watch the show I did see some highlights and noticed that Dr Davis was carrying his own personal wheat belly like an attaché case wrapped around his waist, with him. Now if you had a revolutionary discovery that proved to you how and why people get fat wouldn’t you then be thin based on employing those paradigm shattering principles? Or put another way: why are you still fat while you are telling me to buy your book to lose weight?
With all of the hype surrounding wheat I thought I would post an article that cuts through the typical advertising that often surrounds diet books especially ones that get more attention than they deserve. In the next few paragraphs much of which comes from my book, I will demonstrate to you that the entire premise on wheat being king of the carbohydrates, being more fattening and raising blood sugar the highest of all carbs is patently false. You don’t even have to be smart to figure this one out either-look at me.
I know you are dying to hear about the bait and switch but first let me say a few things about wheat that I totally agree with Davis on.
- First of all wheat, let’s just say bread whole grain or otherwise, will clearly turn you into a lard-arse in no time flat if you consume this cereal on a regular basis.
- Wheat contains dangerous lectins that contribute to many diseases including heart disease.
- Wheat contains exorphins which are opiate-like molecules but it does not reign supreme here either as Davis contends. Many other grains and plants and even dairy are big sources for exorphins.
Now back to number one. We all knew this but decided to forget about it when the elites told us that fat made us fat and that you have to feed your metabolic fire with yes, carbohydrates, to burn fat. Remember that line of barley?
I remember it well because it was the first time since grade school that I ever got fat. It was the fabulous late 80’s. You could catch me listening to Belinda Carlisle with my swinging doctor friends hanging out at City Grill in LA complete with our two pound Motorola cell phones just waiting to get paged so one of us could look important.
Even hitting the gym twice a day didn’t stop the flute fueled fat factory from adding a frumpy muffin top to my otherwise sleek, youthful body. That was lesson number one which I quickly recovered from. Yes, it turns out that pasta does make you fat sorry fat-free decade.
Alright we know that bread or pasta makes us fat but does bread make you somehow fatter than say cornbread or cornflakes?
According to Davis who’s next magic act will be to make the pyramids of Giza disappear, yes. Now here’s the slight of hand. Drum role please? While amylopectin A may have super-carbohydrate properties being readily available for rapid breakdown into glucose it is not wheat. On page 34 the entire fabric of his illusion hovers around but never lands on the deception based on the important concept of the glycemic index. He spends the bottom of page 33 and page 34 comparing the glycemic indices of whole wheat, white bread, durum semolina and table sugar but note he does not mention any other grains or starches.
Good we need all the numbers he provides anyway for the argument below but what he deliberately left out was the GI’s of the other far worse grains and starches. What? There are worse grains than wheat in raising blood sugar?
Wait a minute. He just said that wheat was unique in its ability to raise blood sugar. Actually it can’t and he knows that. That is why he tells you that amylopectin A will raise your blood sugar very quickly not wheat. Although to seal the deal he does say AA containing wheat yada, yada, yada and uses them interchangeably later throughout the book. Remember what Goebbels said that if you repeat a lie long enough and loud enough it will become a fact. AA and wheat clearly the two are related but not clinically. For you see wheat is just about right in the center for its GI right with the rest of the grains and that’s all there is to it. That’s the bait and switch.
Let’s cover some basics so we are all on the same page. From my book:
LOSE THE WHEAT LOSE THE WEIGHT
Have you heard that mantra lately? Unfortunately, it’s not just about wheat. Recent books like Wheat Belly have come out suggesting that wheat and only wheat is the real problem in causing fat gain. I agree that wheat is nasty stuff as I’m sure you now agree [after listing in detail the other problems with wheat]. Davis suggests that if you only exclude wheat you will lose weight like water on the Wicked Witch-up to 50 pounds in several months. Nonsense, unless as the book exhorts in the fine print, you forego all grain carbs, starches and sugar carbs you won’t lose fat. But then that’s just a repackaged low carb diet the same one I am talking about. [in my book] Duh.
Harvard medical school has a website listing the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic loads (GL) for 100 foods. In Wheat Belly, Davis talks about how both whole wheat and white bread have higher GI’s than table sugar. “People are usually shocked when I tell them that whole wheat bread increases blood sugar to a higher level than sucrose.” As you can see however, table sugar (sucrose) has a moderate GI because it’s half fructose and fructose does not raise blood sugar. Glucose on the other hand has a GI of 100 by definition. He also prattles on about amylopectin A one of the starches in wheat that can be broken down very quickly by the body’s amylase enzyme leading to higher elevations in blood sugar but as we just examined the GI of wheat, whole or otherwise, is only moderately high and certainly not the highest. So it’s irrelevant what AA does, wheat does not raise blood sugar any higher or faster than many other grains or starches period.
EXCUSE ME WHICH CHIEF DO YOU MEAN?
Looking at the GI’s for whole wheat & white bread they are the same as expected-low seventies- higher than some other grain preparations but not the highest of the grains and staples by a long shot. On page 151 of Wheat Belly: “Chief among the carbohydrates? Wheat of course.”
Chief ? Which chief are you referring to? Let’s compare wheat to corn flakes, a baked potato and white rice. No comparison corn flakes come in at a hefty GI & GL of (93& 23) the baked potato is chief at (111 & 33) far higher than wheat (71 & 9) and table sugar (GI-59), and the lowly white rice has a wheat whipping average GI of 89 and GL of 43!
The baked Russet potato in fact is the highest of the 100 listed followed by fruit rollups (GI 99) and corn flakes (GI 93). Recall what the GI means. It means how effectively this material when eaten raises BLOOD SUGAR compared to glucose. The higher the blood sugar is elevated after a meal, THE HIGHER THE GLYCEMIC INDEX and the more insulin is produced. This high insulin level is the source of inflammation and disease as I have been saying. So the GI is useful as is the GL to help us determine which foods raise blood sugar the most.
The GI…It estimates how much each gram of available carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus fiber) in a food raises a person’s blood glucose level following consumption of the food, relative to consumption of pure glucose. Glucose has a glycemic index of 100, by definition, and other foods have a lower glycemic index.
Glycemic index is defined for each type of food, independent of the amount of food consumed. Glycemic load accounts for the amount of food consumed and is calculated in terms of glycemic index. .
A HOUSE OF CARDS
If wheat were so horrific in raising blood sugar then its GI would be the highest there is compared to any other non-fibrous carb-but it’s not even close. In fact to be as bad as Davis suggests it really should exceed the standard we compare it to-glucose with a GI greater than 100 not table sugar which is deliberately deceiving. Even white rice far exceeds the GI of wheat at a GI of 89& GL of 43. I honestly don’t see how wheat at a modest low seventies GI can make you fatter than these higher GI foods based on the argument that raising blood sugar and insulin the highest will make you the fattest. Which we know to be true.
This entire wheat thing is a clever house of cards-a repackaged low carb diet book. The Harvard GI numbers tell us that the baked white potato is way more of a super-carb than bread or AA! So is corn when prepared as flakes and your run-of-the-mill white rice. You would have been better off naming it Potato Belly or Corn Belly. Nothing new here folks-time to go home.
In the end it’s about all high glycemic carbs, all of them. That’s why I call it a grain belly only because it’s too cumbersome to say a grain and non-fibrous tuber belly.
While a whole book was written on a deception that wheat is the worst offender in terms of increasing blood sugar we need to instead stay focused and be clear that both the GI and GL tell us that in general all non-fibrous carbs are high glycemic foods. Consider anything with a GI over 50 to be high glycemic. True it will be a milestone in helping you achieve wellness if you can stop eating all wheat (and gluten if you are sensitive) containing foods because wheat is everywhere and bad for you in many other ways but perhaps only slightly worse in a glycemic way than some other grains with the exceptions noted above. In fact, as far as fat goes it’s far better eating wheat than eating corn flakes or baked potatoes. Don’t expect to drop 50 pounds while enjoying every other non-fibrous carb out there. I personally have done the wheat free diet but ate other breads that were wheat-free, but not grain free, and I stayed as fat as a Christmas goose.
Why? Because any “bread” is loaded with so much carbohydrate that it matters little that you stopped eating wheat if you still eat other grains or starches. This is really just common sense. It goes a long way in explaining as Dr Eades does in a blog of his, the overweight female who after the lecture complains that she needs carbs because “I know my body.” She might drop wheat consumption but pick up the slack with the other higher glycemic carbs like rice, corn (flakes), and potato or wheat free bread. I still encounter many people that talk this nonsense. As Dr Eades correctly states it’s usually a woman, fat, and adamant that she is a person who has to have starchy carbohydrate. If it were really good for her and necessary somehow for her metabolism I doubt it would be setting her up for a metabolic meltdown like diabesity, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.
The only true way to lose fat and feel great is to lose all the non-fibrous carbs and replace with fibrous carbs, higher protein and healthy fat.
Then it gets a little freaky when Dr Davis cautions that you eat only 2 strawberries per day. Hmmmm, OK. Just recently I did an experiment that I mentioned earlier and ate about 1.5 pounds of mixed berries and grapes then I checked my blood sugar. The conclusion: it was 95 mg/dl at hour two. So much for two strawberries. At least in my case, and I’m very carb sensitive, 30 strawberries and more was still perfectly fine. Now I must admit that my body fat is at an all time low so I’m very insulin sensitive and that may help to explain the nice blood sugars.
In the above blog I wanted to emphasize that there is no free lunch (pun?). It would be nice if it were true that simply eliminating wheat would cause a massive loss of weight. Even Davis doesn’t go that far without saying that you must moderate all carbs to lose weight-which of course makes it a low carb diet repackaged. It’s a concept that a lot of authors fell for in their comments on the book and frankly I’m a little shocked at how easily they all stand up and clap. So far nobody took the book to task (except for me) because it is so transparently false. One look at wheat’s glycemic index and you have everything you need to know. If you know anything on nutrition and dieting first hand such as I have done then it’s a no brainer that you have to moderate all of your non-fibrous carbs especially the grains. Wheat is unique but it’s the lectins that make it uniquely toxic. I guess you couldn’t attach a cute name and speak truthfully had you addressed that concept in it’s entirety and left the low carb dieters alone.
See you next week for more fun and excitement.
 Davis MD. LEF Magazine Wheat the Unhealthy Whole Grain. Oct. 2011
 (http://www.glycemic.com/GlycemicIndex-LoadDefined.htm) 09/09/2012