Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight
You’ve probably heard a lot about the hidden risks of eating wheat. But what should you make of these claims? And is cutting wheat from your diet really a good idea?
Wheat-free diets have received a lot of attention in recent years as we’ve become more aware of conditions like celiac disease and wheat allergies. Many celebrities have talked extensively about gluten-free eating, and it seems to have become a trend of sorts.
First, it’s important to understand celiac disease and how it differs from a wheat allergy or a wheat intolerance. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that prevents proper digestion of gluten, a protein that is found in wheat and other grains. For the 1 in 133 people afflicted by the disease, eating gluten can hinder the absorption of other nutrients, resulting in a number of health conditions. The only solution is to cut wheat and gluten containing products from their diet.
Others suffer from a wheat allergy or wheat intolerance, which can lead to cramps and diarrhea when gluten is ingested. They’re two very different conditions, and they’re also relatively uncommon.
Can Everyone Benefit from a Wheat Free Diet?
This is really the question of the day. If you don’t have celiac disease or a wheat allergy, you obviously don’t need to be overly concerned.
But there may be other health benefits to removing wheat from your diet or reducing your intake of foods that contain gluten.
For starters, wheat is very high on the glycemic index. This means that it very easily and quickly causes spikes in your blood sugar levels, which lead to subsequent feelings of hunger and cravings for sugars and carbs. For diabetics or those who are borderline diabetic, this is especially worrisome.
Of course, wheat products are also high in carbohydrates, and eating too many carbs can definitely lead to weight retention, particularly in your belly and around your waist. I’ve seen many clients (and myself) benefit from a low-carb diet, particularly in terms of toning up and losing fat.
Recently, there have also been claims that during digestion, one of the proteins found in wheat actually contributes to an appetite for more wheat. While these claims haven’t been substantiated by large clinical trials, they do raise further concern over a possible “wheat belly” epidemic.
What’s the Best Approach to Healthy Eating?
The truth is, adopting a low-carb diet that is especially low in wheat products will definitely help you lose some weight.
What I don’t recommend, however, is giving up on carbs altogether. If you give up wheat, make sure you’re getting carbohydrates from other healthy sources, like brown rice, oats, vegetables, and nuts. Your body needs carbs in order to maintain a number of bodily processes, including metabolism of proteins, energy, and mental concentration. While a low-carb diet is usually manageable, a carb-free diet is extremely difficult to maintain long-term.
The paleo diet is actually one effective approach to eliminating wheat from your diet (as well as dairy). Many people swear by it, and I have to say, it’s a great diet if your goals include toning, fat loss, or extreme weight loss. For more information, see my link on The Paleo Diet here, and read my Paleo Diet Food List to get your grocery list in tip-top shape.
Whether you lose the wheat is up to you, but at the very least, make sure the wheat do eat is whole grain whole wheat. Whole grain wheat is much lower on the glycemic index and more nutritionally rich, and that alone will go a long way in reducing belly fat.
Have any questions or feedback about losing weight by cutting out wheat? Please leave a comment below…