Have some more

Wheat, via exorphin effects, is an appetite stimulant. Eat a whole wheat bagel or bran muffin, you want another. You also want more of other foods. You also want something to eat every two hours due to widely-swinging insulin-glucose responses: blood sugar high followed by a sharp downturn that triggers a powerful impulse to eat (thus the cravings for a snack at 9 and 11 a.m. after a 7 a.m. breakfast).

If wheat is a stimulant of appetite, then removing it should yield reduced appetite and reduced calorie intake. That is precisely what happens.

When wheat products are removed from the diet--without calorie restriction, without counting fat or carbohydrate grams, no exercise program, no cleansing regimen, no skipping meals . . . nothing--calorie intake drops 350 to 400 calories per day. This calorie figure remains curiously consistent across multiple studies in which wheat was eliminated.

400 calories per day results in 21 lbs lost over 6 months, based just on calories. (3500 calories per pound lost.) That is what happens in wheat elimination diets: 21-26 lbs lost over 6 months.

Wheat is the processed food industry's nicotine, a means of ensuring repeat food purchases. It's also low-cost (subsidized by the U.S. government), high-yield, an ingredient that even has its very own withdrawal syndrome should you miss a "hit."

Comments (37) -

  • Steve

    4/7/2011 2:49:30 PM |

    The reduced appetite after wheat withdrawal is exactly what I'm experiencing. A very low carbs (and so very low wheat) diet is the first diet that I can stay on because I don't get hunger pangs. I'm down about 20 lbs. (10%) since finding this blog and going wheat-less.

  • Anonymous

    4/7/2011 3:31:35 PM |

    Hmmm... I've been wheat free (grain-free, actually) for almost 3 weeks now. I started off being mildly hungry all the time, and that has faded. I wonder if that's what you're talking about there!! Terrific!

    Keep the articles coming... love them.


  • Steve

    4/7/2011 4:16:45 PM |

    I started just before Christmas. The first week or so was unpleasant ... hungry, groggy ... wheat withdrawal. The "no hunger pangs" showed up after that and made it possible for me to stay on this diet. It's the first time I've been able to consistently lose weight.

  • Real Food RD

    4/7/2011 4:44:52 PM |

    When I first went off wheat it took a good 3-4 weeks for the withdrawl to stop.  During that time I was ravenously hungry and ate constantly.  I know my body was just hoping I'd eventually eat some bread.  I gained probably 10 pounds, but it came back off (I don't have any other weight to lose).

    Was that a study you are referencing or clinical experience?  Would love to have more details.

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    4/7/2011 5:08:06 PM |

    Biblical wheat and remote regional "landrace" wheat strains are not the same as tetra-ploid wheat we're sold. Tetraploid varieties have been grown for less than 500 years; and di-ploid varieties around for 500 to 1,000 years.

  • Megaera

    4/7/2011 5:23:28 PM |

    Look, I'm glad that this works for some/lots of people - but I've been doing this since before Christmas, 4 months now, and I haven't lost a pound.  My status is a good deal worse in a number of subtle and not-so-subtle respects, and frankly nothing of substance has actually improved in any way.  Recommendations of iodine supplementation were an unqualified disaster.  And I effectively have nowhere to go, now -- I'm stuck with this mode, because I have every reason to believe that going back to grain in any degree will yield uncontrollable weight gain.  I'm really not trying to be negative, but the point  has to be made, amid all the rosy predictions of magic pounds disappearing (that's just calories-in-calories-out which is supposed to be BS, according to the new Received Wisdom, no?) that this regimen doesn't work for everyone.

  • ChicagoGirl1

    4/7/2011 6:06:43 PM |

    How is wheat different from just carbs in general? Don't they all create this problem?

  • brec

    4/7/2011 7:09:57 PM |

    "...has its very own withdrawal syndrome should you miss a 'hit.'"

    If you follow the link, you'll see that this unqualified statement is based on self-selected (Dr. Davis's blog commenters) anecdotal evidence.

  • Anonymous

    4/7/2011 7:42:27 PM |


    If you keep following those links back, you'll eventually land here:


  • Dani

    4/7/2011 8:25:31 PM |

    I agree. I can't stop once i start eating crackers or croissants.

    In your opinion, do other grains like corn and rice have the same effect?

  • Gene K

    4/7/2011 9:44:27 PM |


    I used to eat a lot of bread. For the first four months of my grain-free and carbs-from-veggie-only life and policing my blood sugar I gained about 10lbs. My NMR profile got significantly worse, too. Dr Davis checked my APOE and it was type 4, so he told me to limit fats and changed my medications. In addition, I stopped being a vegetarian and increased the amount of lean proteins in my diet. I also changed my exercise routine according to slow-burn. Four months later - 14 lbs have been lost and NMR profile improved drastically.

    I am saying it, because there is a happy path of losing weight when you stop eating wheat, but certain people may need to make an additional effort. So you need to look further.

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    4/7/2011 10:03:45 PM |

    Japanese children (290) aged 5 - 18 had MRI of brain to see if breakfast centered on white bread vs. white rice differ. The study adjusted for confounding factors.

    The older white rice breakfasters showed a larger grey matter in relation to cranium volume; in some brain areas white bread eaters had more grey matter.In the youngest there was not a statistical differenece in grey matter volume between the groups.

    Rice breakfasters' MRI showed more grey matter in left superior temporal gyrus, left inferior temporal gyrus,right pre-central gyrus, left superior caudate  nuclei and the bilateral caudate nuclei. Caudate volume is associated with a subset of verbal IQ ( POI component); the rice breakfasters had higher POI scoring. And in addition they had higher IQ than the bread group; IQ is associated with prefrontal and orbito-facial corteces and the cingulate gyrus.

    Bread breakfasters MRI showed more grey matter in the postcentral gyrus, right precentral gyrus, right fronto- parietal orbit, and bilateral orbito-frontal corteces. Their MRI showed more white matter in
    the right pre-frontal gyrus  and post-central guyrus; otherwise the two diets showed no white matter % differences between the groups.

  • Just Joan

    4/8/2011 1:00:06 AM |

    My experience has been exactly like Steve's. Since going completely wheat-free (as well as ditching the sugar and most fruit), I'm down 15 lbs. and still losing. The best part of all is that my hypoglycemia symptoms have completely disappeared, my energy is through the roof, and I no longer get uncontrollable hunger pangs.

  • Dr. William Davis

    4/8/2011 1:01:57 AM |

    As Steve and 1st Anonymous point out, this approach can work for many, if not most, people with extravagant weight loss and health benefits.

    However, as the frustration expressed by Meg suggests, there may be confounding factors. As Gene points out, apo E4, for instance, can modify the response. But this was not the focus of the post.

    This is a blog. Each post makes a point. Don't mistake this for a one-on-one healthcare encounter.

  • Dr. William Davis

    4/8/2011 1:03:27 AM |

    Hi, Real Food-

    I was referring to the collective experience demonstrated in gluten-elimination diets in celiac patients.

    I will summarize this literature in my upcoming book from Rodale, Wheat Belly.

  • mongander

    4/8/2011 1:32:32 AM |

    I've relented and switched from oats to swallowing about 1 oz of chia seed for breakfast.  The rest of the day I mainly rely on cabbage/veggie soup (no starches)...snack on roasted peanuts & boiled eggs.  Am losing weight.

  • Frank Hagan

    4/8/2011 2:01:10 AM |

    Dr. Davis - I posted today about leptin resistance, and how high triglyceride levels have been implicated in stopping leptin from its normal "hunger stopping" function. Have you seen a dramatic decrease in triglycerides from those that simply refrain from wheat, without intentionally counting other carbs?

  • WheatlessX

    4/8/2011 2:23:20 AM |

    A few months ago, I read a post on this blog which suggested getting a BG meter in order to see what effect things like wheat had on BG. The results of my first meal (whole wheat pasta with red sauce, broccoli, and whole wheat toast) showed 183 at 1hr PP and 149 at 2hr! What was really surprising to me, however, was that despite the 2 hour number being as high as it was, I was still very hungry.

    Based on this and subsequent tests, along with increased awareness of satiety, I've made some pretty significant changes in the types of foods I eat. Mostly, I've cut back on all the grains (even "whole grain") and added fats (I no longer believe the "low fat" recommendations).

    The result is that in about 3 months I've lost roughly 15 lbs. (mostly in my belly), despite having no sense of being deprived. It doesn't hurt that my lipids have improved, as well (TC, LDL and trigs all lower).

    I had been skeptical of Dr. Davis's claims about wheat at first, but I am now convinced that for me at least, wheat is not my friend.

  • Anonymous

    4/8/2011 3:33:36 AM |

    What if that happens to me with prety much every thing. I want another almond, another egg, another piece of cheese, another wine, more chocolatte, another sushi, a bit more of meat....

  • David Evans

    4/8/2011 8:16:16 AM |

    I started to cut down on my bread intake about 3 years ago and am now almost completely grain free (apart from accidental consumption). I have lost over 50lb and feel like a diifferent person.

    One of the biggest bonuses of cutting wheat from my diet is the improvement in my mood and temperament. I used to be quite a moody and slightly unpredictable type of personality, but now everything is calm and serene.

    Quite a few scientific papers show a connection between schizophrenia and cereal intake. http://healthydietsandscience.blogspot.com/search/label/Cereals%20and%20Schizophrenia

    This may help to explain the improvement in my personality.

  • Anonymous

    4/8/2011 11:10:35 AM |

    I've been mostly wheat-free for over a year, and have lost exactly zero pounds. I still don't eat it, since I believe there are a lot of benefits to leaving it out (all my blood-work #'s were fine before, but improved a bit more after awhile of high-fat/low carb). The biggest improvement I've seen is in my mood -- no more depression. However, I'm still 100 lbs overweight. Frown

  • CarbSane

    4/8/2011 12:27:43 PM |

    When wheat products are removed from the diet--without calorie restriction, without counting fat or carbohydrate grams, no exercise program, no cleansing regimen, no skipping meals . . . nothing--calorie intake drops 350 to 400 calories per day. This calorie figure remains curiously consistent across multiple studies in which wheat was eliminated.

    I would be interested in one study demonstrating that just cutting wheat from the diet resulted in 350-400 cal/day spontaneous reductions in intake.  Preferably controlled for protein content by substituting other carbs for normal wheat content.  

    The VLC diet studies don't count as too many variables are changed there to attribute most, if even any, of the decreased intake to reductions in wheat intake.

    If wheat is addictive, and whole wheat supposedly contains more addictive substances, why don't people gravitate towards whole wheat pasta and bread and binge on

  • Eric

    4/8/2011 3:12:46 PM |


    You stated "The VLC diet studies don't count as too many variables are changed there to attribute most, if even any, of the decreased intake to reductions in wheat intake."

    Same could be said for the studies that cholesterol and fat are the sole reasons for our obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc- yes?

    I also don't buy your suggestion that people don't binge on whole wheat containing foods as I've seen it countless times at bagel shops, healthy Asian noodle bowl places, pizzerias, etc. People trying to eat "Healthy" often over indulge on "healthy" pizzas, bagels, breads and pasts all while thinking they are doing eating exactly what the AHA recommends. Something that is more than likely silently killing them.

    I've done all this before and all it got me was a plethora of trips to a cardiologist, anxiety, depression, bloating and countless Rx pills that did absolutely nothing. And I'm not an unhealthy guy by any means.

    You may feel Dr. Davis' posts are all anecdotal and that's fine. His new Track Your Plaque book has all the evidence and studies I need to support his claims and it was the anecdotal evidence that he posts that spoke volumes to me. It was the first place I found that explained exactly what I was going thru (30 years old, extremely hypertensive, depressed, slightly overweight and angry with atherosclerosis that seriously a 30 year old should not be suffering from). From that point on I've read his book, followed his plan and have replaced all my worthless Rx's for a daily dose of VD3, Omega3 and steer clear of "Healthy" grains... and I couldn't be happier.

    Of course this is my own "anecdotal" experience, that four of my previous cardiologists couldn't achieve...

  • Steve

    4/8/2011 4:01:05 PM |

    In posts above I didn’t make clear that I am actively “dieting” as in “trying to lose weight”.

    My diet: Two Atkins shakes for breakfast with vitamins and two more for lunch. An Atkins shake for snacks, as needed. Dinner is a leafy greens salad with vinaigrette and maybe nuts, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, minced garlic plus a meat portion and sometimes a low-carb vegetable. A 30 minute after-dinner walk with my dog most  evenings. A 15 minute walk/run some mornings before my weigh-in.

    I believe the only reason I can stay on this tough diet is the “no hunger pangs” effect that I get with very-low-carbs. For example, I can have the Atkins shakes for breakfast and easily go until lunch with no cravings. To accelerate weight loss, I can even skip breakfast – no hunger pangs means I can go from dinner to lunch without cravings – I’m hungry but I can do it – I’ve done it every day this week.

    I’m about 5’8”. I found this blog on Dec. 17th and I weighed 204 lbs. On Jan. 29th I weighed 189. Today, April 8th, I weighed in at 179.8! I hadn’t been in the 190s in years. The 180s? The 170s? They were just dreams to me.

    I have gone off the diet; typically after multiple social events in a row. Example -- alumni social Thursday eve, extended-family dinner at a restaurant Friday eve, sports event Saturday, why-not-keep-eating Sunday. Then, I want to keep losing weight so I get back on the diet. I go through wheat-withdrawal again but now I know it’s just a temporary phase and that helps me get through it. It takes about 10 days to get back to where I was and then I keep dieting.

    Disclaimers – On a tough diet like this I am weaker than normal but I can function and I put up with it because, after my initial success, I see this works & I want to lose the weight. I have a desk job so I can probably better handle the reduced energy levels than someone with a more active job. My family is supportive and we eat dinners that work with the diet. So I have intangible factors helping me.

    One definition of hack is “a clever solution to a tricky problem”. To me, very-low-carbs is an empowering “hack” of my metabolism that lets me control my weight. Hallelujah!

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    4/8/2011 5:01:12 PM |

    A single variety of modern tetra-ploid wheat has 100s of different gluten proteins. This equates to 10s of thousands of variations of peptide sequences one can ingest from wheat.

    The molecules formed depend on how trans-amin-dation (cross linking proteins) binds the free residues of glutamine. This potential bond is genetic for each strain of wheat, since involves the positioning of Carbon terminals (located on any of those peptides, as a proline residue). Tetra-ploid wheat has many unique proline residues that cross-link (ex: alpha gliadin) in a way that can resist our digestion.

    Plasticity is a term used to describe the human brains ongoing adaptability. The nerve axons are in a outer (extra-cellular) matrix of gluco-proteins; this includes the proteo-glycan chondroitin sulfate ( glycan = poly-saccharides & oligo-saccharides; hence "glyc-").

    Chondroitin sulfate's residue (wing) of N-acetyl-galactos-amine provide a place for lectins to bind to (ex: lectins most infamous  trans-amididation incarnation is the gliadin molecule, a type of glyco-protein). Thus different glyco-proteins, with unique derivative glycos-amino-glycan molecular chains are going to affect brain neurons differently.

    Anti-bodies for uOR (natural opiod receptor)detected in circulation are indicative of a reaction to some lectin. This means a lectin is binding to the uOR; Doc calls this an "exorphin effect" with one end result being appetite stimulation.

    Neo-striata cells in the brain work off of input from the cortex; the neo-striatum has a part called the matrix (note: here matrix is a brain structure & not to be confused with terms like extra-cellular matrix) and another part called the striosome. The matrix neo-striata gets input from the pre-frontal brain and senori-motor regions; while the striosome input is from pre-limbic, infra-limbic and pre-motor corteces.

    The matrix neo-striata neuro-chemistry is  integral to behavior involved in self-initiated action, goal directed behavior, sensory integration and motor programs. During post-natal (growing child) brain development the striosome neo-striatum cells have a high degree of involvement with glyco-proteins; which may partly explain the Japan school children brain development differences due to breakfast of rice vs. bread (detailed above).

  • CarbSane

    4/8/2011 6:29:24 PM |

    @Eric, I agree.  Don't know where I've claimed such.  Dr. Davis made a claim (and he preceded that with "When wheat products are removed from the diet--without calorie restriction, without counting fat or carbohydrate grams, no exercise program, no cleansing regimen, no skipping meals . . . nothing-").  Study?  One?  

    I'm just asking for a study that demonstrates this claim.  I don't refute that a good many people could benefit from avoiding wheat.

  • Eric

    4/8/2011 7:59:13 PM |

    My apologies CarbSane, I didn't mean for reply to come across as combative.

    Dr. Davis may have a study that he can refer you to.

    But it is a well known fact that foods that trigger a surge in blood sugar and after-meal crashing also lead to increased hunger more frequently.

    Foods that lead to the surge are carbs in (either healthy or processed) grain or sugar form.

    Sometimes all the anecdotal evidence should stand above the biased studies attempting to maintain the status quo. Just my .02

  • Nick

    4/9/2011 4:38:03 AM |

    I reduced my CHO intake about three years ago and lost about 8 pounds in the first three months.  At about the three month point, I removed wheat and all other grains from my diet.  I have lost no additional weight since I gave up wheat.  

    I would say that I have not reduced my caloric intake by 400 calories a day.

  • CarbSane

    4/9/2011 11:09:24 AM |

    @Eric, no apology necessary, I didn't take your post as combative at all.  I just find Dr.Davis making sensationalistic claims a matter of routine lately.  I do a lot of literature searching and I've not, to my memory, ever come across one study that just looked at eliminating wheat and intake.  I'd be curious to see the results of such a study done in a well controlled manner.

  • Dr. William Davis

    4/9/2011 4:36:30 PM |

    In response to several commenters:

    Citing studies in which calorie intake is reduced by strictly eliminating wheat while not imposing any other restrictions does not necessarily mean that this is the most healthy way to eat.

    In other words, if I eliminate wheat but replace lost calories with corn chips, jelly beans, and Coca Cola, then of course I will not lose weight nor obtain health benefits beyond elimination of gluten and other undesirable ingredients in wheat.

    A better approach would be to 1) eliminate wheat, then 2) reduce carbohydrates, especially cornstarch, oats, and sugar, then 3) eat other whole healthy foods.

    My point is that, sans wheat, the drive for consumption is diminished for many, though not all, people.

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    4/9/2011 4:55:03 PM |

    MRI of adult brain while eating shows a response according to an individuals BMI variation. I had this as a well composed comment at WholeHealthSource, but can't retrace it; so, roughly, from my notes now.  

    High BMI individuals have more brain activity in the left posterior insula, supramarginal gyrus, para-central lobule and the cerebellum's uvula/declive/tonsil structures. Cerebellum response involves how one likes the looks/smell of food; more blood flowing in the cerebellum coincides with increased appetite.

    Low BMI individuals have more brain activity in the anterior insula, posterior hypothalamus, amygdala, thalamus, pons and mid-brain structures.

    The Vagus nerve (dorsal) leads from our "gut" up into the pons sub-nucleus of our brains dorsal raphe. In obese individuals this link shuts down when eating. Contrary to the obese, this link is open in lean individuals when they (non-obese) are eating.

    The Pons, which inputs into most of the other brain structures, shows more functioning with slower eating. In addition, stuffing with excess food in a meal slows the pons interaction with the brain.

    The Amygdala, part of our limbic system, sets the emotional response to things ingested. It gets plenty of neuro-signals from the gut, and is implicated in binge eating.

    The Posterior Insula recieves input from both the amygdala and hypothalamus (regulator of amount we ingest). In obese individuals both the posterior and middle insula trigger (on)into action when they see the meal; as contrasted to normal BMI individuals, where these brain structures remain unaffected when they (non-obese) see a meal.  

    In obese individuals there is comparatively more dopamine activity in the neurological circuits of the hypothalamus, amygdala, mid-brain and thalamus (arousal response). So, all in all, it seems quite possible Doc's nemesis (tetra-ploid wheat's molecules) can play antagonistic roles in the brain.

  • CarbSane

    4/9/2011 5:37:21 PM |

    But Dr. Davis, you said there are multiple studies demonstrating a similar drop in caloric intake from eliminating wheat "without calorie restriction, without counting fat or carbohydrate grams, no exercise program, no cleansing regimen, no skipping meals . . . nothing-"

    Are you walking that back?  Or do such studies exist.

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    4/10/2011 12:39:51 AM |

    Hi CarbSane,
    Doc's rant is about the "undesireable ingredients"
    in modern wheat. If would you forgive me for sounding like a know-it-all, then, my comments show some brain responses that go beyond "x" number of calories, "x" amount of carbohydrates, "x" level of exercise and "x" amount of meals.

    It is modern wheat's assorted agglutin fractions, the way they bind glycans (like chitotriose, Beta-1-4-linked N-acetyl glucosamine) and how they cleave off "rogue" metabolites that has an effect on the brain cells. These metabolites have to get inside the brain cells cytoplasm by trans-duction; they are not ions.

    These "undesireable" cleaved metabolites have exposed glucosamine (GlcNAc) wings (residues) that bind to GLcNAc receptors on the cell; this fosters their trans-duction (carrying) past the cell membrane and any intervening endothelial (blood vessel wall) barriers.

    The "undesireable" metabolite then out binds Lysosome C; thus normal lysosomal "housekeeping" endo-cytosis (engulfing) action is inhibited from destroying (ie: no opportunity to hydrolyse apart bonds in the metabolite) that metabolite. This gives the metabolite the time to act like a Heat Shock Protein (ie: it has
    physically blocked that brain cell's usual heat shock protein ever since it locked onto that cell's GluNAc receptor); and thus, that "undesireable" metabolite can ferry (translocate) it's glycan/peptide right to the Endoplasmic Reticulum inside of that brain cell.

    Once the endoplasmic reticulum
    (in a brain cell) recieves an
    "undesireable" peptide/glycan complex it (endoplasmic reticulum) is not able to do a
    "normal" job with it; which job is to properly fold (ratchet into explicit configurations) the normal proteins the  brain cell passes to it (endoplasmic reticulum). Any alternate fold in a protein means it (protein)will react differently in the cascades it participates in.

    How this translates into each of the physical alterations in specific brain structures that I mentioned is beyond my understanding. This comment is to explain one of the ways those
    changes can get initiated in human brain cells by modern wheat; and also, to show our schooling on calories/carbs/ exercise/meals/cleansing misdirect us Doc insists he sees clinical results.

  • Onschedule

    4/10/2011 6:23:53 AM |


    I have enjoyed many of your comments; you have a keen talent in selecting and presenting information which dovetails nicely with Dr. Davis's blog entries. I found this one particularly fascinating.


  • rcdyoga

    5/6/2011 3:22:45 AM |

    Here is my wheat story. I have been "mostly" avoiding wheat for 3 years and when finally being diagnosed with Hashimoto's decided to go completely wheat free. My doctor suggested a gluten challenge for a definitive diagnoses of celiac or gluten intolerance.  Unfortunately, I agreed. Six weeks into the 3 month challenge I quit due to problems that began during the gluten challenge (joint pain, severe digestive distress, insomnia, adhesive capsulitis, nightsweats). Unfortunately the gluten caused some damage and I developed new food intolerances to dairy and nightshades, which have not resolved in 7 months of being grain free.

  • Yvonne

    8/2/2011 10:42:30 AM |

    Sorry this reply comes so late! I hope you see it. May I suggest that you try magnesium oil? It's a mixture of mag chloride and water that you apply to your skin. You may be mag deficient and, if so, that could explain why you're not losing weight.