Who lost weight?

The results of the latest Heart Scan Blog poll are in.

I went wheat-free and I . . .

Gained weight 6 (3%)

Lost no weight 41 (21%)

Lost less than 10 lbs 28 (14%)

Lost more than 10 lbs 34 (17%)

Lost more than 20 lbs 22 (11%)

Lost more than 30 lbs 28 (14%)

I'm still losing weight! 30 (15%)

(189 respondents)

This means that, by eliminating wheat:

24% had no success

31% had moderate success (less than 10 lbs or more than 10 lbs)

25% had extravagant results with 20 lbs or more lost

It would be interesting to know where along the weight-loss spectrum the last category, "I'm still losing weight," group falls. (Anyone with a good story please speak up!)

I believe we can conclude from this casual exercise that, as a simple strategy, wheat elimination is surprisingly effective.

Why would 3% gain weight? Well, without knowing the details, there are several possible explanations:

1) Weight gain developed through other foods. For instance, I've had people eliminate wheat only to replace it with fattening gluten-free alternatives. Remember: wheat-free is not gluten-free. Others load up on the wrong foods, e.g., Craisins and other dried fruit; overdo dairy; or snack on wheat-free but unhealthy foods like ice cream and chips.

2) Too much alcohol

3) Hypothyroidism--A lot more common than you'd think. In fact, this has been the case with a majority of people who have done everything right, yet either failed to lose weight or gained weight.

Those are the biggies.

I'd like to hear your personal stories of wheat elimination--the ups and downs, your success or failure, how you felt during the process, how easy or difficult, your eventual results. Just post them as a response to this blog post.

Comments (30) -

  • Anonymous

    8/1/2009 1:57:23 PM |

    I was one of the persons who gained weight.  I had been a veggie for ages due to my family history of heart disease. The medical evidence backed up the claims so I stated eating cold cuts then sausage.  I totally hate the taste and texture of meat so this was about the only way I was going to do this. I gained around 10 lbs.  Then I reminded myself that this was the kind of diet that got my dad and uncles into trouble.

    I have minimized wheat in my diet (except the one yummy seitan steak) but have dropped the meat.  I have increased fat my intake from coconut oil and butter rather than sunflower oil. Making wheat free bread is sometimes frustrating but pasta without wheat is dirt simple. I've always used plenty of beans and lentils in my diet and that continues.

    Dr D., many thanks for a great information and educational resource


  • Anne

    8/1/2009 2:14:42 PM |

    First I went gluten free 6 years ago. I lost about 10 lbs. I think that was due to the fact I was not sure what I could eat. As time went on, I gained 5 lbs back. A gluten free/wheat free diet can be filled with high carb junk food. Gluten free grains are high in carbs and calories.

    About a year ago I gave up all grains and sugars(except a small square of dark chocolate). That is when I lost about 15 lbs with no effort at all. I have not had any trouble maintaining this weight loss by sticking with a whole foods diet.

  • Nick

    8/1/2009 2:53:52 PM |

    Just fyi, I answered the poll as 'did not lose weight' because I had already lost the ten pounds I needed to lose prior to giving up wheat.  I am at my correct weight, so I don't consider my 'vote' as an indication of lack of success.  I gave up wheat for the health benefits and to avoid gluten.

  • GK

    8/1/2009 4:17:55 PM |

    I went "paleo" in 2007, eliminating all grains.  I am 5'11".  In six months I dropped from 155 to 140 lbs, but regained 5 and have settled in at a very stable 145 for the last year, BMI= 20.2.

  • Anonymous

    8/1/2009 4:57:44 PM |

    wheat free, no change in weight, but my acne cleared up.

  • billye

    8/1/2009 5:22:44 PM |

    It has taken me 10 months to lose 54 pounds.  I am wheat free as well as all grain free, no legumes, limited fresh berries of all types, Limited green vegetables and olive oil, no other type of fruit, no legumes what so ever, a hand full of nuts daily.  I also eat lots of meat (fried in coconut oil)of all types and cuts along with chicken.  I am waiting for the results of an Omega 3 to 6 ratio test that I recently took.  I supplement with 6000 IU vitamin D3, high dose wild Alaskan sockeye salmon oil, super K2, and 325 mg kelp caps.  The evolutionary life style change system I am on and keep refining, is the most positive thing I have done in fifty years of chasing every failing diet I could find.

  • Kurt

    8/1/2009 9:00:49 PM |

    I haven't noticed any big differences since quitting wheat. The only wheat I ate was whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta, so quitting wasn't difficult. I replaced my morning toast with an oat and nut muesli. I am planning to take a VAP cholesterol test and see if eliminating wheat has helped my numbers.

  • Brock Cusick

    8/1/2009 11:33:41 PM |

    I voted "Lost no weight", which is still more or less true. My waist has narrowed a bit though and I'm down a belt notch since knocking out ALL significant carb sources (not just wheat).

    Body temp in the AM averages 96.6 degrees, so I suspect hypothyroidism. I am trying to convince my local physician to proscribe desiccated thyroid but he's waiting until the TSH/T4/T3 labs come back.

  • Manu

    8/2/2009 12:13:39 AM |

    Is sprouted wheat - or sprouted grains in general - acceptable? I haven't read or heard anything to the contrary. http://brianstpierretraining.com/index.php/the-superiority-of-sprouted-grains/

  • zim

    8/2/2009 12:39:58 AM |

    i've just completed 3 months of this eating plan:

    1. elimination of wheat
    2. near elimination of all sugars (< 20g / day)
    3. concentration on better n-3 / n-6 ratio

    in that time, i've dropped from 225 to 195 lbs., and counting. But more important to me are better heart health and regression of a diagnosed fatty liver.

    next week, I visit the doc for bloodwork and am hoping for some good results.

    the process has been relatively easy for me, especially when compared to prior (misguided) efforts, aka the prudent diet and cardio workouts.

    my energy has been good, i no longer get sleepy in the afternoon, my mood has improved, my frequent headaches have nearly disappeared, and i look/feel healthier. to me, this is not a "diet," but a permanent and positive change in my diet.

  • Van Rensselaer

    8/2/2009 6:48:29 AM |

    Dr. Davis,

    I've made some significant changes in my diet based on the info gathered from your blog and some other valuable sources such as Michael Pollan, Gary Taubes, Whole Health Source, Hyperlipid, and the Westin A. Price Foundation.

    10 weeks ago, I stopped eating *all* cereal grain based products, all legumes, and all starchy tubers.

    I DO eat meat (grass fed or pastured if possible), oily fish, pasture raised eggs, more good fats, fermented dairy products, non-starchy vegetables, *some* nuts (mostly walnuts, almonds, pecans), *some* seeds (pumpkin, flax, hemp), and a little fruit (as berries).

    I am very mindful of my ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 intake.

    I supplement with:

    D3 5000 IU
    K2 as menaquinone-4 5mg
    Lugols solution %5 1 drop
    2-3 grams omega-3 from fish oil (in triglyceride form. 50/50 DHA/EPA).

    I often supplement with curcumin and R-Alpa Lipoic Acid as well.

    Additional fats in my diet come from extra virgin olive oil, raw coconut oil, and grass fed butter.

    The first 5 days of going NO wheat , NO high glycemic load carbs were the hardest: I felt gnawing "hunger" even after I had eaten to fullness.  It was very strange sensation, but it really wasn't so hard for me to get past.  I was fortunate to be raised to have an aversion to sweets and have no great love for bread or pasta.
    Though... I miss beer and pretzels.

    Beyond feeling a little physical discomfort from carb withdrawal, I recall that was a bit of a jerk that week.  Had quite a temper.

    ...days pass...

    In the meanwhile, I would check to see if I was producing ketones (mostly curious, I suppose).  I would really only produce a significant amount of ketones after a period of exceptionally strenuous exercise, such as mountain biking for a few hours; otherwise, I generally produce small readings, if at all.

    ...I began feeling better and better, so I exercised much more intensely and then came across this training approach called "crossfit", which became my new mode of exercise.  Curiously enough, crossfit advocates a paleo-like diet.  Ah-hah!

    ...weeks pass...

    I feel incredible now, as if I'm 10 years younger, at least!  I'm much leaner, stronger, more flexible, have much more energy.  

    I've changed so many variables so I'm giving you quite a loaded anecdote, I realize... but hey, I feel great!

    Unfortunately, I have little in the way of numbers to share with you besides my change weight and blood pressure.

    I'm 40 years old, male, 6'3" tall.

    Beginning weight: 212 lbs

    Current at 192 lbs, approx 10% body fat

    Beginning SYS/DIA  130/84

    Current SYS/DIA 109/70

    Kind Regards,

    Van Rensselaer

  • pmpctek

    8/2/2009 7:39:20 AM |

    I missed the poll.  You can put me down as; "lost more than 20 lbs".

    I lost 25 lbs. (went from 192 to 167) in six months, and it was all fat loss.  As a 5'9" male, my waist size went from 33" to 29".  I'm holding steady at 163 lbs. after 14 months of being grain, sugar, and starch free.

    Although, I didn't eat much wheat and other grains to begin with.  The biggest elimination for me was sugar like from candy, soft drinks, chocolate, etc.  

    The funny thing was though is that I didn't have any of the strong, drug like withdraws and cravings so many others experience with complete elimination... just lucky I guess.

  • Anonymous

    8/2/2009 1:17:33 PM |

    I had no problems giving up wheat, as I noticed it was giving me lower GI symptoms too, I didn't lose much weight, only a little, but I think my body is happier.
    I also got rid of some recalient eczema, which I think is another benefit.

  • Bekki

    8/2/2009 1:43:06 PM |

    I'm one who lost no weight after going gluten-free.  I did so due to discovering a genetic gluten-intolerance.  I also went off a few other foods that I discovered intolerances to.  I was pregnant at the time, so I didn't expect weight loss.  When that pregnancy ended prematurely, I still didn't lose weight.  My appetite dropped considerably, even while still pregnant, as my gut began to heal and I began to actually digest my food.  I theorize that the reason I haven't lost weight is because I'm digesting my food properly- instead of speeding through my inflamed gut, it's slowly digesting, including all the calories.  And, I haven't really tried.  I admittedly still eat too many sweet things.

    All that to say- I think for some people, proper digestion means they're getting MORE out of their food than they used to, which can cause weight gain or no weight loss.

  • Dr. William Davis

    8/2/2009 8:46:05 PM |

    Thanks, all, for the great stories, positive or otherwise.

    Bekki raises an interesting point: If digestive improves substantially with wheat elimination, is calorie absorption more efficient?

  • fox

    8/2/2009 11:15:11 PM |

    How many didn't lose weight because they traded fat for muscle?

  • Helena

    8/3/2009 1:31:59 AM |

    Hello Dr. Davis.

    I started my diet last Monday (July 27) and have so far lost 2-3kg (6.6 lb) and 3-4 cm (1.6 inches) around my waist. I feel great even though I do have some cravings for some bread and pasta as it used to be in my daily diet, but I am fighting it.

    My exercise have been 60 minute walks a few times over the past week.

    This week I will try to work out more days, but still only 60 minutes at a time.

    I will keep you updated as I did this last year before my wedding, so I KNOW IT WORKS!!!

  • Manu

    8/3/2009 4:20:42 AM |

    No one answered my question (about sprouted wheat). Frown

  • greentree

    8/3/2009 4:47:15 PM |

    Put me in the didn't lose weight camp. I don't think I could lose weight if I starved myself for2 weeks. I am on Synthroid and my TSH is normal but my T3 is showing out of range (low) but I can't get a doctor to address that.

  • Anonymous

    8/3/2009 4:53:15 PM |

    Fourteen of us started low carbing age range 18 to 70 and all have lost weight over the last 7 months average around 21lbs,though some have lost more inches than weight cutting out wheat,pasta rice and upping the good fats,butter extra virgin olive oil but coconut oil (Mct's?) seems to be the best oil for losing weight.
    Some have otimised Vitamin D and Omega 3 others have not.
    Some are still losing weight whilst others seem to vary + or - three or four pounds around their newly found "ideal weight!.".
    More energy,great muscle tone fewer aches less hunger less bloating and mood swings seems to be the benefits and an increasead body temperature.
    a good tip if you are not getting enough protien or are a vegetarian is to use a low carb Whey Protien bodybuilding supplement.

  • Dr. William Davis

    8/3/2009 10:37:47 PM |

    Excellent point, Fox.

  • Anonymous

    8/4/2009 10:02:05 PM |

    I didn't lose weight. OK - maybe I lost 2 or 3 lbs.  I don't even own a scale.  I don't have a goal of losing weight - I only weigh 105 lbs.  My goals are about heart health, not weight loss.


  • Anonymous

    8/5/2009 10:44:42 PM |

    I marked that I'm still losing weight.

    I gave up wheat, sugar (I may take in less than 10g of carbohydrates in the form of vegetables which I use as a condiment), grains, pulses, and most processed foods.  So I eat a mainly meat and egg diet with the occasional small salad or lacto-fermented veggies. I do eat a lot of fat.

    So far, I've lost 46 pounds, and I hope to lose another 29.  

    I still have limited amounts of soy in grain-free soy sauce, and I still have cheese and cream and butter as well.  Good stuff!

  • puddle

    8/5/2009 11:47:31 PM |

    2002, I was diagnosed with early congestive heart failure; my Cholesterol was 246, and my BP was running about 170/90 or 100.

    I didn't specifically go off of wheat, but doing Atkins, I always need to stay within about 10 to 20 carbs a day. In a year I dropped from 250 to 200.  Over the first two years, my cholesterol dropped to 222, 194, and then to 174. My blood pressure dropped to the 114/80 range.  And my knees stopped aching.

    The doctors have backed off the CHF diagnosis.

    I had Graves Disease in 1986 with a total thyroidectomy, and have been on Levoxyl .175 since then until a month ago when I got my prescription changed to Armour 2 grains.  I think it's going to need to be upped after the blood tests, just based on how I'm feeling. I spent most of my adult life till the Graves on the low side of normal (exact borderline).  Some doctors would prescribe thyroid, others would not.
    I'm almost 69, I feel great, and thank you Dr. Davis!!

  • Alan S David

    8/6/2009 3:47:21 PM |

    I fasted before the wheat elimination, a three day water only fast. I dropped 5 pounds or so. Eliminated 95% or more of the wheat, and corn starch. Added more eggs and fresh vegetables to my diet, and I have been down a total of 15 pounds and have no trouble maintaining that weight. My BMI is 21.
    Hope to see a lowering in my small particle LDL count in the near future. It has gotten better but is still high.

  • Anonymous

    8/8/2009 5:01:04 AM |

    I'm 52 now, had a heart attack at 48 which is rare for a premenopausal woman. Low cholesterol and low blood pressure looks like its an iflammation/ insulin issue for me. I lost just over 20kg in 5 months after reading your blog nearly a kilo a week. Dr Davis, together with my Dr Tessa Jones who is amazing, thank you, you are a life saver. As well as eliminating grains I take the supplements eg fish oil, turmeric, resveratrol, niacin, Vit D) and bioidentical hormones; I am managing hypothyroidism (8 drops/day Lugol's!). My high fasting insulin (dropped from 136 to 80 - but should be 8) and my triglycerides have also fallen dramatically. Breakfast is a whey brewers yeast, egg, nuts berries smoothie. Lunch and dinner is salads and meat/fish. Dark chocolate when I'm craving carbs. But I stopped losing in Jan not sure why and have put on 6kg since then, am very worried. I got a CRP reading of 10.7 My doctor was horrified, gave me a mercury challenge which was so high it poisoned me; she has me taking Far infrared saunas to reduce heavy metals. But still no more weight loss (keeping it just steady) am v obese at 103kg at 5 feet tall. Any advice welcome.

  • psychohist

    8/29/2009 1:43:02 PM |

    I didn't purposely go wheat free, but I dropped pretty much all wheat from my diet in favor of potatoes for a couple years.  I gained about 10 pounds in that time and was on a continuing upward trend.  Note that I was not overweight to start with.

    I then went paleo, dropping the potatoes and strictly removing the wheat.  I lost all the weight I'd gained.

    I suspect some of the gainers replaced the wheat with potatoes or other starchy foods.

  • buy jeans

    11/2/2010 8:42:06 PM |

    I'd like to hear your personal stories of wheat elimination--the ups and downs, your success or failure, how you felt during the process, how easy or difficult, your eventual results. Just post them as a response to this blog post.

  • Megaera

    2/22/2011 7:22:29 AM |

    Interesting, that when facts don't quite fit with your theories your immediate response is to assume that the inconvenient facts are the fault of the unfortunate provider.  That is, when someone says either, I didn't lose any weight on your hobby-horse diet, or even gained weight on it, you immediately pronounce that it must have been that person's fault, he MUST have been doing something very bad.  Well, for what it's worth, I've gone wheat-free, processed-food-free, limit my carbs to leafy greens (no starches) and small quantities of fruit, supplement with fish oils, D3 and iodine.  I drink no juices, eat no nuts or seeds, exercise, in short, do all the "thou shalts" and have omitted just about all the "thou shalt nots" you would seem to insist upon.  I have not quite managed to eliminate dairy, but my intake is minimal.  I don't snack, and my meals are 3/day and small.  My fasting glucose readings are still > 100, and I have not lost a single pound.  I am quite capable of adopting a tough regimen and sticking to it; this is nothing compared to some I've tried.  But it still does nothing, so, thanks for that nothing, I guess.

  • Megaera

    2/24/2011 12:37:08 AM |

    Oh yes, and several months now after starting this process I find I experience none of the magic benefits you keep extolling: no great GI changes for the better, no skin improvements, no "gee, how swell I feel" moments -- in fact, I feel just about as crap as I did before dcing grains and sugars.  So, falsio in unius ...