Wheat Belly is just a repackaged low carb diet

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Wheat contains dangerous lectins that contribute to many diseases including heart disease.
  3. 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[1] 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.”[2]  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. .[3]

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.

 

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Category: Wheat

About the Author ()

Dr. Christopher Rasmussen (aka Reality Renegade) is the author of his upcoming book, "InflaNATION: Industrial Diners & A Doc In The Box." By deliberately avoiding harmful industrial foods and the Commercial Sick Care System with its Pills and Procedures paradigm, Dr Rasmussen cured himself of a deadly disease-which became the reason for writing this book. In the book, he provides the facts you must know and the solutions to regain your health, maintain wellness, and outlive your parents' generation in an extraordinarily toxic world.

Comments (7)

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  1. Cindy says:

    Dr rasmussen, I tried to subscribe using my ipad and my itouch, but when I try to confirm my address from an email , I get a failure notice. Any ideas?
    I love the article on GMOs. I was visiting someone in California before the election and was fascinated ( not in a good way ) by the propoganda in the media regarding Proposition 37. I have so much to learn!
    Cindy

  2. Cindy says:

    I got a confirmation email afterall.
    I’m excited to have another resource.
    I am 48 , 4 months into this lifestyle and feel like shouting it from the rooftops any chance I can get. I must say it like selling snake oil when you share with others the profound effects of eating only real foods.

    • Christopher Rasmussen MD, MS (aka "Reality Renegade") says:

      Hi Cindy,
      Clinically I found the hardest thing for a person to do is to give up eating the very thing that’s killing them-grains.

      This example I think helps to bring the message home. We have 4 main food groups, or at least the USDA would have you believe, for maximal health. They are the Milk and dairy group, the healthy whole grains, fruits and veggies, and finally meat and fish. Up until 10,000 years ago-an evolutionary eye blink-we ate from only 2 of those groups from the dawn of time until the stated 10K years ago. That’s millions of years!! It really requires no proof if you look at it this way. Our proof is our success as a species eating the original organic and free range cuisines of game animals and gathered plants. Gee where are the healthy whole grains, the hormone filled milk, the pro-inflammatory seed oils and the Betty Croker (spelled properly) wholesome sugar?

      If you can muster up the courage and simply stop eating from those other groups the benefits come quickly. Notice how light and good you feel, the sense of well-being you receive from interrupting the daily poisoning of your body. If you add exercise to the mix the benefits become synergistic as I mention over and over in my upcoming book. It’s all about synergy and the amplification of health that comes from doing things right or perhaps more correctly righteously. The Ancient Greeks had a saying: “All men are immortal but the righteous man is both immortal and divine.”

      So it goes with our difficult choices that we have to make regarding our health. I never said it would be easy but it’s a lot easier than you probably think. And of course when all of the bloat and fat melts off from the correct and non-agenda driven (Davis) way of reducing or eliminating (preferred) grains and sugars, not just wheat, you are paid back handsomely with lower blood pressure, a new fashionable body and the fit feeling that accompanies it, elimination of the constant threat of CV disease, cancer, and stroke to name a few.

  3. steve says:

    IiI must ask how your book will be any different than any of the other lo carb books out there? My Asian friends who eat rice which you condemn with other grains remain quite healthy. Perhaps the mere elimination of junk and packaged foods will do the trick. Many eat potatoes, and rice, an remain lean with good metabolic markers. They stay away from junk food and sugar.

    • Christopher Rasmussen MD, MS (aka "Reality Renegade") says:

      Hello Steve,
      First off my book isn’t a diet book at all. I go way past diet to get to the truth on why we are becoming so sick. It therefore differs fundamentally right from the start. Rather it’s focus is on the 15 or so greatest health threats to us all. Those threats take on many forms either as medications, Industrial Dinners (processed foods), vaccines, municipal water, GMO’s, pesticides, dysbiosis, the Commercial Sick Care System itself and many others.

      I devote one chapter to diet. In it I try to come to some sort of conclusion on what is generally considered bad and what appears to be good for humans to eat. We do know some dietary things that are indeed harmful for most people like over-consumption of sugar and Omega 6 FA’s. I have referenced at least a dozen world authorities on diet and I also base some of my comments on my own personal health history and the foods that certainly contributed to my heart disease. I would refer you to my very first post and read the introduction to get a feel for what I am trying to accomplish. I have discovered something new and unique to offer the reader. That is my suggestions on getting well based on the fact that I should probably be dead by now had I not been on the correct path. See the next two posts which I relate more details on why that’s true.

      The impetus for the book comes from my curing severe angina and heart disease with LIFESTYLE CHANGES. Only one part of it is based on dietary changes. As far as low carb goes it all depends on the carb. For example I do not hesitate to inform my readers that fruit-in its whole form-is wonderful and people need to eat much more. Even with my carb sensitivity I still eat perhaps 4 apples and other fruits during the summer months especially. If you look at Wheat Belly Dr Davis is a fruit phobic recommending only 2 strawberries per day! Dr Mercola no more than 2 apples per day to avoid fructose toxicity. I could not disagree more with either of them. After spending considerable hours researching fruit I do not see any reason to be concerned provided you eat them whole and not juiced, baked, or pureed.

      Now as far as rice and the grains go I have a different opinion. We all have a friend or two that can eat (my favorite dish) red beans and rice with abandon and never gain a pound day after day. I envy them. I love that dish and I love bread. But loving and eating them need to be in separate categories. I am not sure where you see that I condemn rice however. In my book at least I am very careful to explain where the problems might be with someone.

      My general warning goes like this: if you are grain sensitive be very careful with them. Most people are pretty sensitive. I am only talking about the glycemic loads here. Other worse problems come from the anti-nutrients and lectins. I personally feel that rice is far safer than wheat and some varieties of rice have a pretty low glycemic index as well. So not all rice is bad and certainly not bad for everyone. They key is to stay active. It allows you greater freedom to eat safer carbs like rice. I am a gym rat so I get plenty of exercise. I eat sushi all the time and I stay very lean doing it. Bread on the other hand will swell me up like a Christmas goose if I’m not careful even if I run every day while eating the stuff.

      How do you know if you can tolerate bread, rice or potatoes? I recommend getting a finger-stick glucose monitor and checking blood sugars 1, 2 and 3 hours after a meal with said grains. Also quite simply put-if these particular grains make you fat they are also harming you more or less. How that’s accomplished is beyond this discussion since it requires a lot of explaining. Lastly one can check one’s triglycerides and HDL as these are very dependent on carb sensitivity. If the TG/HDL ratio is high it predicts the small, dense harmful LDL type as well and that’s where we Americans are having a hell of a time getting this under control. A high ratio is part of metabolic syndrome as is inflammation.

      We have about 80 million people right now with metabolic syndrome and growing-that’s the hypertensive guy with the beer belly or worse. He’s a shoe in for heart disease, diabetes and some cancers among others. Metabolic syndrome is all diet and (lack of) exercise to oversimplify it. In the end I am trying to get inflammation under control through avoidance of harmful “things”, avoiding excessive consumption of harmful “non-fibrous” carbs, getting plenty of exercise, sunlight, supplements, stress reduction, hormonal correction, avoiding doctors unless vital are some of the approaches.

      Most people with average metabolisms are eating too much carbohydrate. They need to either step up the exercise of cut way back on starchy things. Of course I agree we need to eliminate all processed foods and sugars. Many Chinese are becoming obese. Once they leave the rural setting with daily exercise, put them behind a desk, and that same amount of rice may make them quite fat.

      Anyway, I was one of the “Sick n Fat” I cured myself of heart disease, lost 65 pounds, eliminated my crippling angina and several other things all through exercise, diet, supplements, key medicinals, and determination. I am living proof and I want the world to know how it was done so that all of you out there can have hope that all is not lost when you suddenly find yourself obese, sick and depressed.
      Cheers!
      Chris

  4. Jim says:

    I have been interested in the “Rice” issue as it relates to low carb diets. My significant other is Vietnamese, and craves rice and will not consider giving it up. She likes her excess 25 pounds because it keeps her skin from being wrinkled.

    I have read that several low carbohydrate advocates are also baffled by the “Asian Rice” problem. They acknowledge it exists, but are honest enough to say that it is unexplained.

    I began thinking about it one night being the lone male at a dinner of four long time Vietnamese ladies. All slim, except for my significant other. All short — really short.

    Is shortness related to rice, or related to the traditionally limited availability of food in Asian societies of the 1940′s, 1960′s and 1970′s ….. ?

    Well, I decided to work with what little I know. I realized that if there were something about the “Asian Rice” problem that were explanatory, it should show up in some kind of body response to food such as growth, weight, blood chemistry changes on eating….. What about racial differences in Glycemic Index (GI) or Insulin Index (II) …. or what about food induces expression of genes related to the the responses of GI or II?

    I didn’t have much luck in finding a wealth of data on the issue(s). I did find papers citing the lack of effect of race (and nation) on a number of such medical issues.

    I did find a paper on GI data for Vietnamese foods for Caucasians vs Vietnamese. The paper concluded that there were no statistically significant differences, but it was underpowered with only a small number of people, and the plus or minus ranges for the data were all between 10% and 20%. With the high variability of the individual GI responses, and a small sample size, you would be foolish to expect to statistically detect (at p=0.05) a 20 percent difference in GI response.

    Broken Rice .. Caucasian GI 107 Asian GI 79
    Glutinous Rice Caucasian GI 101 Asian GI 95
    Jasmine Rice.. Caucasian GI 123 Asian GI 94

    The paper made a plot of the Asian vs Caucasian GI scores for the 9 foods tested. The least squares fit showed the Asian GI scores were 10% less than the Caucasian GI scores. Only one of the 9 food data points showed a lower Caucasian GI vs Asian GI score.

    No data on insulin index.

    So the possibility is there that there really is something to explain the “Asian Rice” problem for the low carbohydrate diet, but nobody cares enough to collect the data that is actually needed.

    There is a lot of Diabetic based GI Chinese data, but it is mostly restricted to diabetics. Some say that the recent epidemic of Chinese diabetes is related to foods other than rice.

    • Christopher Rasmussen MD, MS (aka "Reality Renegade") says:

      Hello Jim,
      I know Dr Willard of Harvard has looked into the effects of rice consumption in rural Chinese verses their office counterparts. He seems to think that we are all pretty much the same. It’s the exercise that makes the difference basically. Same with other ethnic groups around the world. We all seem to do pretty well in our rural settings but if we end up behind a desk watch out.
      Chris

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