Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health (Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Books, 2011)

This is one of the most revolutionary health books I have read in some time. The author’s basic premise is that wheat and wheat products are responsible for many of the health maladies that plague modern Americans, including obesity, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, and more.

When I first heard about the book, I dismissed it because I have always been taught that wheat, especially in its whole-grain form, is healthy for you. He presents a compelling case that the wheat we eat today bears little resemblance to the wheat of one hundred years ago. It has been so genetically-modified and hybridized that our bodies can’t process it. The result is chronic inflammation, leading to everything from poor health to a general lack of energy.

The book is pretty technical. The author is a medical doctor, and he is determined to prove his case with hard data and lots of science. Fortunately, he weaves in lots of case studies about his patients and how a gluten-free diet transformed their health.

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69 thoughts on “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

  1. I am trying to figure out if I’m going to jump on the Wheat Belly bandwagon.  I’ve been doing some research and stumbled across this yesterday.  I don’t want to discourage you, but as someone who is fascinated with statistics and how they can be swayed by data input, I have to say, it got my attention.


    • Thanks, I’ll look into this. Personally, I have seen too many people get well by going off wheat, including two of my daughters. If it’s only the Placebo effect, that’s fine. I’ll take it!

    • Many confuse wheat free with gluten free. A common mistake that is not fair. They are two different lifestyles but has some similarities.

  2. Michael – I picked up the book awhile back. About 1/2 through it now. It is a very well researched book with compelling evidence. We have begun making diet changes and we are pleased with the results so far. More weeks and more compliance will tell. There is wheat in soooooooo many things. Much success to you! 

  3. I haven’t read this book, but my husband and I have been doing some research on this issue as well, especially how sugar and carbs affect our blood sugar level, with very negative consequences. As a result, we’ve been on a low-carb diet for some time with amazing effects. I really think this is a break through in thinking about what constitutes healthy food, but it’s proving to be a hard sell because we’ve been taught that wheats are good and that fat is bad. It really requires a paradigm shift. I’m convinced however!

  4. Yes Michael I cut out wheat about 2 years ago and I can’t believe the difference. I also had my 9 yr son give it up for 3o days and now he will not touch it because it makes him feel so bad. Thanks for spreading the word to your multitude of readers! For another great book- check out It starts with food – by the Hartwigs- another fantastic read!

  5. I bought the book after you mentioned it and am not really surprised at what I am reading. I’ve known for awhile that wheat makes me hungry and lathargic. Lots of push back at home about cutting out wheat, though. It will be a huge effort, a big change in diet. Wheat is in everything!

    • My health has deteriorated to the point that I can no longer wait for support. I’m cutting out all grain for the month of January. Fruit, vegetables, nuts, and small amounts of organic meat. hopefully the results will speak for themselves.

  6. Congrats. Kicking wheat is so hard!  My daughter is lobby-ing  the family for  the  hunter gatherer diet   Paleo Diet.  meat veg  and nuts, and nothing cultivated. 

    • Paleo and Wheat Belly diets have similar research as their foundation, but slightly different prescriptions (and the differences are fairly minor).  I’ve started with Wheat Belly, which is a great first step in reducing the junk in one’s life, and a good reboot.  Paleo usually limits or throws out milk and cheese, where WB provides more liberal guidelines. Many paleo diets are very anti-sugar-substitute (such as Splenda), WB is more liberal again there.  Those are the major differences.  

      • One other difference is that Wheat Belly really encourages low carb, so fruits are limited to perhaps a handful of berries. Also, while WB may be more liberal with cheese, we strictly avoid honey, agave syrup, and other “natural” sweeteners and we avoid higher-carb foods such as sweet potatoes, legumes, and rice. I think WB is an easier way to transition for someone who has been eating the SAD (standard American diet). Cheese and heavy whipping cream and nuts ease the way for someone who has been living on breads, cookies, cereal, pasta, etc. Just my two cents. :)

    • Postscript.  I like WB’s guidelines (which are clear and work well for a busy working mom).  I’m personally finding it livable, after the first adjustments.  I also prefer the rationale of “this is what studies, clinical evidence, and science show us” which is sometimes available in paleo discussions of “why this, not that” and sometimes isn’t.  Just because we didn’t have fill-in-the-blank 10,000 years ago, doesn’t mean it’s not nutritious food. But if fill-in-the-blank wasn’t available during human evolutionary history, it deserves a hard look from science. 

  7. I have eliminated wheat, flour and most sugars and I feel so much better! No more heartburn and no wine… do I miss bread and wine? Yes,  But feeling good and healthy beats the short-term pleasure in those items…. BUT I cannot say on my next visits to Italy and France I won’t indulge but there are it’s a different product in the countryside.
    The Wheat Belly Diet was a life changer for me… and yet so logical.

    •  I deleted the wheat and cured my reflux.  However, I still have my wine and find it does not give me heartburn.  Wheat Belly was a life changer for me, as well.

  8. Wow, great information.  My son also has Crohn’s Disease.  I am definitely forwarding this to him.  Here is his story.  http://youtu.be/oz9_z3M004s  After his surgery last year he is raising money for hospital bills and continued educations.  So far he is healthy.  We know there is a good probability of a relapse.  Maybe this book will help him.  Myn thoughts are with your daughters for good health in dealing with Crohn’s.

  9. I’m glad you are finding help through this eating plan. Are you following it to a “T” or just cutting out all wheat products? Today is my third day off of all wheat products in an attempt to stop 8 migraines a month. Don’t know if I’m ready to give his full diet a try.
    Looking forward to hearing more of your family’s journey with this new way of eating.

  10. I am concerned, however, with the “one bad guy” diets such as this. Even if wheat is horrible, that does not lead to low carb eating, ony ow wheat eating. I suggest that people stick with the serious researchers, such as “The China Study” by Douglass, or “Heart Attack Proof” by Esselstyn. Or if you are up for it, the shocking “The Starch Diet” by Mcdougall. Anyone can write a book, or select a narrow focus and assume further. Thay’s why books like The China Study are so important, they cut through the narrow and thej junk science altogether.

    • My science is how great I look and feel and the results of my blood work and that’s all I need to be convinced. I speak from my own experience and that of family members. I have done a good deal of reading on effects of wheat and starch on western europeans and I (they) do not digest wheat well. I was brought up in the 60’s of the Wonder Bread generation, “Builds Bodies 12 Ways and the Enriched Flour which takes out the vast majority of the nutrients… wheat is not the same product as our ancestors consumed…. The opinions expressed here are from my own experience and a to SHARE with others in this forum not to influence. I am an educated and informed adult but I have worked in a Fortune 10 company and you have to read between the lines on any “studies” or books produced. And hopefully, I try to proof read my posts for typos and gramatical errors. Otherwise it throws credibility out the window.

    •  IF you do your research, you will find the China Study was horribly skewed.  He chose which statistics to publish.  It’s garbage.

    • Here; The China Study book was NOT endorsed by the scientists who did the actual study.  Please read information regarding this before posting that the The China Study as being important. It says quite a bit when the researchers and scientists will not endorse the book. 

    • FYI – Wheat Belly does recommend low carb eating – Dr. Davis (a cardiologist)suggests we eat no more than 15 net carbs with any one meal and suggests we do not eat any gluten free products (breads, crackers, etc.) due to their high carb count – based on your comment, I assume you haven’t read the book

  11. I have been off wheat now for several weeks and do feel so much better. Went to a party yesterday they were serving hogies I remove all the insides and threw out the roll. When cake was being served I was not even interested at all.this is a fabulous book I recommend for everyone to read Wheat Belly Diet. You won’t be sorry

  12. I’ve been trying diligently to get rid of the wheat in my diet. It’s been almost three weeks, and I’m feeling pretty good, but only down about five pounds, if that. I know that patience is a virtue, but what’s a logical, reasonable weight loss expectation at this point? Yes, I am mostly trying this for the weight loss benefits, but my husband and daughter suffer from severe acid reflux, so it’s a health issue for them. I don’t want to give up, and after reading the book, I don’t ever want to eat wheat again, but I am getting a wee bit frustrated. Any suggestions and/or advice to keep me motivated?

    • I recall reading in the book that weight loss isn’t guaranteed. Gail and I have been off wheat two weeks. I have lost about four pounds. She has lost zero. I’m no expert, but I would say hang in there, particularly if you are feeling better. By the way, my daughter lost ten pounds in the first three weeks.

      • Also consider that your body need a good 30 days to readjust to release toxins from your system. It seems forever but all of a sudden one day you’ll see the results and you’ll be thrilled. Also, you are probably replacing wheat and flour with proteins to fill you up and that is more muscle than fat…. allow your body to readjust to this life style… the benefits are so great! Hang in there and we’re routing for you!  Lots of beans, proteins and veggies.

      • Hubby and I started the Let’s Do Lunch Plan 3 years ago which eliminated all grains and processed foods. Wheat Belly just backs up what Roger Wilson discovered. I stayed on it for 5 months and did not loose anything except some inches. Then the weight suddenly fell off so much so that it was obvious to everyone. The weight loss can be very slow for some but it does come off. You have to stay out of the processed food though and READ LABELS.

  13. Ive been off wheat for 20 weeks and I have lost 17kgs (37.47 pounds). My asthma has vanished and my eczema is pretty much gone too. I have never had so much energy in my life. 

  14. I also have been reading the book. I decided to go almost 2 weeks “wheat” free and felt fantastic! Then yesterday, I decided I would test this “wheat theory” and eat 2 slices of pizza… Let me just say, I’m definitely staying away from the wheats and carbohydrates from now on! I apparently have a sensitivity to wheat, and I honestly still feel like crud after 28 hours of eating the pizza. To wheat or not to wheat– I definitely choose not!!

  15. Michael, have you read or heard of “Why We Get Fat, and What to Do About It”?  Gary Taubes is the author.  Excellent and well researched book on the science behind obesity.  

      • Hi Michael, I’ve also read Why We Get Fat,and  it was a life changing event for myself, my partner and my kids. Gary Taubes does an excellent job at explaining the biology behind the foods we eat, and how fat is stored among other well researched diseases of the Western Diet.   He also does quite a few conferences on Why We Get Fat which are posted on You Tube.  

      • You can go to iTunes and download the EconTalk podcast where Russ Roberts interviews Gary Taubes. It is most excellent and it is free.

  16. Read the Wheat Belly FB page- individuals post comments regarding the benefits they are experiencing from giving up wheat. Many write about getting off various meds including high blood pressure and insulin. Dr. Davis chimes in often and will even answer questions. Many who follow the FB page will offer support and share what they eat. There is also a recipe page. Wheat Belly Recipe Central. The Wheat Belly book is a life changer- for the better!  Be sure to take body measurements and photos of face and front and side view of your belly so you can track your own progress. 

  17. The more this word gets out, the better!  I stopped wheat August 19, 2012.  I have lost weight, about 13 pounds.  My reflux, which was severe, is much better.  I was using my asthma inhaler sometimes multiple times a day – yesterday I took an early morning walk in cool air with the fall pollens – major triggers for me – and did not use my inhaler at all and was not short of breath after walking for an hour!  I haven’t used it at all in days.  This is a miracle, truly.  My diabetes is also better – best blood sugar readings since I was diagnosed 3-1/2 years ago. 

    It has not been at all difficult because I have filled in the bread/butter craving with almond flour breads/muffins a few days a week.  They really are just about as good and in some cases indistinguishable from the wheat flour counterparts.  I have also been adding coconut oil so that may be helping in some ways as well, but I definitely had an unknown inflammation or something from wheat.  Oh yes, also my energy is off the charts from what it was.  I also have atrial fibrillation, which keeps me from sleeping more than a few restless hours a night as my heart tries to pound its way out of my chest.  I used to lie on the bed during the day and fall asleep and walk around in a daze – now even when I can’t sleep well at night I can’t nap as I still have so much energy.  It’s amazing folks – I so want the people I care for to try it but I know you can’t push things on people!

  18. Looks very interesting. I saw the book pop up on my Amazon recommendation and I downloaded the sample. I’d like to read it all the way through now. Sounds very interesting. The challenge for me is that my wife and I are training for a half Ironman triathlon, and there’s the whole “carb load” before a race. I’ll need to find some other more appropriate carbs to “load” with. :)

    • Good goal, Russ! Potatoes loaded with veggies for dinner and a bowl of oats in the morning? I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free (not carb-free, the flour I’m using nowvis brown rice) bread recipes, so there may be an option there for you, but you probably won’t find it at the race itself so best go prepared. Good luck in your event!

    • It should be okay to splurge every once in a while. Carb-loading for a marathon is not the same as changing your lifestyle.

  19. Very interested in this, I went to Amazon and quickly glanced over the 5-star and 1-star reviews (with a grain of salt…) and saw that the #1 criticism of this diet was that, at the end of the book, it encourages you to abandon all carbs and follow an Atkins-like diet.  Is this correct?  My father-in-law was on Atkins a few years ago and it did a lot of damage to his system, therefore when I see the word “Atkins,” I get a bit cautious.  Do you have a rebuttal to the “Atkin”-like charge of WB?

  20. I’ve had a similar experience. I read Wheat Belly along with Primal Blueprint and have started to implement the paleo diet. Like your daughter, I dropped 10 pounds in about two weeks, and have never felt more energetic. My occasional splurges on a cinnamon roll or bagel confirm that I feel better without wheat.

  21. Looks like a book I need to read (and pass along to my wife).  I’ve found great success with the Paleo diet (high-protein/low-carbs).

    Cutting out the bread and pasta is not easy; however, the results are amazing.  I feel much more energetic when I stay away from grain-based products.  A while back, I dropped over 30 pounds on the Paleo plan.

    Twenty-first century marketing and advertising has told us that whole-grains are so important and so good for us.  I’m not so sure.  Carbs seem to spike my blood sugar and then BAM!  I feel like I could take a nap.  That can’t be good.

    Notes to self:  (1) get back on the Paleo diet; (2) get the book!

    Thanks for sharing.


  22. I started wheat belly free a little more than a week ago. Slowly making my kitchen wf. I work long hours and we had become a take out family. Are there any that are ok? When my family gets pizza I get Philly cheese steak with no bread. Buy whole cooked chickens a lot what’s your input? Irene

    • I haven’t read this book, but another like it and this one is on my “someday soon” list, all that to say, I’m not sure what this author would say but I’m inclined to think that anywhole-food choice is going to far outweigh most takeout options – a bag of salad with an appropriate dressing and some beans or shredded chicken, a roasted chicken, baked potato, that kind of thing.

  23. Thanks for you comment. I think the argument is more nuanced than high-carb vs. low carb. Much of his argument is that the what we are eating today has been so modified by hybridization and genetic modification that our bodies can’t process it properly. So even if the wheat you are eating is properly prepared whole kernel wheat grain, it spikes your blog sugar dramatically and raises insulin to a toxic level. If you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to do so. As someone who works in the health industry, I would be interested in what you think. Thanks.

    • Carbs on general spike your insulin level, you would really like “Why We Get Fat” or the more technical “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. Similar ideas, but Taubes is a bit more general.

  24. I haven’t read this book, though I’ve now added it to my growing Amazon cart :)  But I’ve basically been living this for the last 6-9 mo. Staying on what’s known as a Low-Glycemic diet, by dropping bread, pasta, crackers, cereal and other sugars from my regular diet (not keeping them at home) I feel better have lost 15+ lbs and continue to keep it off. I’m not legalistic about it, if I want a burger and fries I’ll eat it. But I’ll pay for it later. When I eat bread or pasta I always have more aches and pains in my joints. 

  25. Michael,

    Some other books like Wheat Belly are by Gary Taubes. He authored “Why We Get Fat” and “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” If you enjoyed Wheat Belly I think you will like either of these and find them helpful as well. 

  26. I thought of another great book you might like: Lights Out by T. S. Wiley. She’s a bit liberal in philosophy but her scientific principles are backed up with lots of evidence and just plain common sense. My goal is to be on her system, though it’s tough to do regularly.  I encourage you to check it out. Blessings…

  27. I have suffered with sinus trouble for several years which gave me ear infections and extremely low energy.   My immune system seemed very weak.    I found doctors just want to treat the symptoms and not the root cause.  After I did a food elimination diet, eating mainly chicken and rice, and excluded all wheat and milk products.  Within 3 days I saw results, and after several weeks and now months, my whole system has turned around.  Wheat and milk were the two things that affected me the most.   My concentration and energy are through the roof.  I love brown rice with honey sprinkled on top.  I now drink rice milk.  If I cheat and eat wheat my energy level drops severely.  I would not trade the energy I have now for wheat any day.  Great article!  Thanks Michael!

  28. It seems like nothing has been posted for a couple of months.  So can I assume that this is like all (or at least most) fad diets and now we are slipping back to the “good old ways”?   I just find it hard to believe that we are consuming less wheat today in North America and the overweight/obesity rate still continues to increase.  Maybe we have it all wrong.  Agein

      • Been gluten, wheat and mostly all other grains free since early September. Tremendous decrease in migraines, able to get off one of my migraine preventatives. More energy, no more mental fog and people say I look better. No more cravings for food.

        My neurologist was very pleased with the improvements in my migraines and fibromyalgia. He is going to recommend this to some of his patients. It has clearly helped me.

  29. Hey Michael, Wondering if you are still using aspects of what you have learned from Wheat Belly? I finally finished the book, it’s pretty good and insightful.

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