Nutritionist Drew Price tries different diets to, ahem, sort the wheat from the chaff. Find out if following the Wheat Belly diet, created by cardiologist William Davis, can help you lose weight by eliminating wheat products.
One of the best-known ‘gluten-free’ diets, Wheat Belly aims to improve your physique and overall health by cutting out wheat and other gluten-containing grains.
Wheat is a staple grain across the globe, but one that has been intensely cultivated and has changed over the years. As a result, according to Wheat Belly author and cardiologist Dr. William Davis, modern grains (and the gluten and additional compounds they contain) are addictive and destroy our health. Davis’s book makes bold fat-loss claims, including a predicted 6-8kg reduction in weight within the first month of following the diet, as well as listing broader benefits that include improving the autoimmune system, slowing down the ageing process and reducing the risk of developing diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
The diet is pretty simple, in that all it specifies is that you avoid grains that contain gluten, such as wheat, barley and rye. You can do it the easy way, by replacing grains with starchy substitutes such as corn pasta, or the hard way – which I chose – by forgoing starchy food altogether and opting for extra protein, healthy fats and fibrous veg.
The downside to this diet’s simplicity is that it offers little in terms of guidelines to follow or suggestions for how to replace grains in your diet. Since grains are basically everywhere, this makes it fairly impractical, especially if you’re eating out. In the end, I resorted to cooking meals from scratch at home with simple ingredients and carrying food around with me in Tupperware tubs all day. When I stuck to this I was fine, but when it wasn’t possible I ended making poor food choices, missing meals and generally falling into dietary disarray.
The diet was annoying, and the results didn’t help matters either. I actually gained 1kg in weight over the month, which – according to my Speedflex body composition analysis – was attributed to a 3kg rise in fat mass and a 2kg drop in muscle mass, despite my training volume and intensity being strictly controlled from month to month. My blood work also showed a rise in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and visceral fat. So overall it wasn’t exactly a roaring success.