“Lose the wheat, lose the weight, and find your path back to health.”
-William Davis, Wheat Belly
Recently I’ve been trying to make my way through this best selling book in order to understand the reason behind it’s popularity. Although I have yet to finish the book, I have gathered a number of flaws I want to point out. As I critique the messages Dr. Davis sends, I will try to remain objective as possible.
- Dr. Davis’s view on the relationship between wheat consumption and obesity is much too simplistic. He notes that wheat consumption and obesity rates have increased since the mid-1980’s. True, however Canadians are also eating more calories now, although wheat-along with fats and oils- accounts for much of this increase.
- Strong research is not used to back up Dr. Davis’s ideas. The author shares a number of patient case studies, which can provide a more humanistic view to the concept and could potentially influence one to try the diet, however these case studies do not make for strong scientific evidence. There are scientific studies that are cited throughout the chapters to help the author make his point, however, after further review some of the studies were in very small subject populations and/or had quite a few flaws.
- Wheat is targeted as the culprit throughout, but the author also mentions not substituting with wheat-free alternatives such as potato flour, rice flour or corn meal as “these too increase the metabolic insulin response.” By completely eliminating these types of starches it would lead theoretically to weight loss as the total calories consumed are less. So this leads to the question of is it the elimination of wheat or the fact it is a lower-carbohydrate and calorie diet? Certainly cutting foods like bagels, pasta, pizza crust, muffins, pancakes, pies, cakes and dozens of other wheat foods out of your diet would certainly make a dent in your weight – assuming you didn’t replace their calories with calories from other foods.
- There is very little guidance as to what are appropriate substitutions during meals, therefore, one who does not review this diet with a registered dietitian could potentially set themselves up for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, such as B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D just to name a few.
BOTTOM LINE: You can loose weight on just about any diet that cuts calories. Unfortunately after six months or a year, most people begin to regain the weight they lost, no matter which foods they cut to loose weight. Avoiding wheat isn’t the answer for those who don’t have celiac disease or gluten intolerance.