Lose the wheat, lose the weight? - KMSP-TV

Lose the wheat, lose the weight?

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Steering clear of barley, rye and wheat as part of a gluten-free diet might be the craze, but some people say they're boosting their health by instead focusing on only wheat.

The movement is called the Wheat Belly Diet.

"Wheat belly is not a diet, it's an articulation of an explosive and large problem in the American style of eating," says Dr. William Davis.

Dr. Davis is a cardiologist, and wrote the book on the Wheat Belly Diet. It's become a New York Times Best Seller. He claims over the past 50 years, wheat agriculture science has made wheat somewhat unhealthy.

"Wheat has changed. It's been changed, it's been changed completely and utterly. And removal of this thing from the human diet, I think it among the most incredibly powerful health strategies I have ever seen," Davis said.

And some dietitians agree. Cliff Edberg counsels Lifetime Fitness members on diets, and has encouraged some to try the Wheat Belly Diet.

"Your blood sugar will actually go higher from eating two pieces of wheat bread than having six teaspoons of sugar," explains Cliff. "The higher your blood sugars go, the more fat storing hormone you are going to send out. "

Both Susan Zemke and Michelle Stork gave it a try. The women say they boosted their health -- not by adding more exercise, but by giving up wheat.

"It was interesting to see just how many things have wheat products in them. So that part was a little overwhelming."

Six weeks later, Michelle has seen results.

"I've lost 11 percent body fat, 13 pounds, and I have a lot of energy. Most days I would take a nap. I don't take naps anymore," Michelle said.

Susan gave up wheat a year ago.

"I used to think I felt pretty good -- I worked out and did other things and now I feel fantastic," Susan said.

Dr. Davis claims people who eliminate wheat have fewer mood swings and improved concentration. They sleep better within weeks, and even days of their last bites of wheat.

Cliff sees another benefit.

"If we are bringing down blood sugars, we are preventing diabetes, bringing down triglycerides -- a known factor in heart disease -- bringing down cholesterol levels. We're increasing HDL and lowering LDL. We are decreasing inflammation throughout the entire body."

But not everyone agrees with the approach. Dietitian Linda Enright calls it the latest fad in dieting.

"I don't think everyone needs to do something so drastic," Linda said. "I think we're always looking for that quick fix. And removing wheat could be effective for some people to see some health benefits, certainly to see some weight loss. But is it the one-size-fits-all that he claims? I don't believe it is."

Linda has incorporated some of the teachings of the book, but she believes an individual approach is key.

"To suggest to someone that eats wheat 12 times a day eliminate that from their diet they could do it for a little while then they are going to get real tired of it," she said.

"It's going to be a ton of work, and maybe more expensive and they are not going to maintain that. That's why these fad diets don't work, because people can do it for a little while, then they get tired of it and go back to what they were doing."

Linda suggests avoiding the middle of the grocery store and the boxed and processed foods. Instead, stay to the outside and stick with fruits, veggies and meats.

"I still believe in whole grains. The book puts down all grains, lumps them all together as being bad the benefit of whole grains is that it still gives you nutrients that refined grains don't give you."

However, Michelle and Susan swear by Wheat Belly.

"I would say letting go of wheat is the right thing to do because as I said it's just not the same," explains Susan. "My 87-year-old mother, every time I talk with her, says are you still on that diet? I keep reminding her, it's not really a diet -- it's the way I eat now. Because I feel well!"

Michelle says, "I look at it not so much as a diet but a lifestyle. This is how I choose to eat because in the end I feel better, I have more energy."

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