During 2020, working from home meant easy access to the pantry, the fridge, and the snack cabinet. So, it is no wonder that 71 million Americans report having gained significant weight during the last year working from home! A recent survey published by The Beet (plant-based diet magazine) revealed that over half of Americans want to lose weight!
Recently, we wrote about the pro’s and con’s of low carb diets compared with low fat ones. And the verdict is clear: low carb does help you lose more weight faster.
We even provided some meal plans earlier this week in our blog post “What Is a Well Formulated Keto Diet Meal Plan?” for those of you ready to start weight loss.
Yet wheat still makes up 20% of all calories consumed by humans throughout the world.
So, with all this evidence, why is it so hard to beat the wheat? How important is it? And what can you do to ensure you’re getting the best nutrition for you? This article discusses the importance of controlling wheat in your diet and ways to start replacing this longtime dietary staple.
Wheat contains three ingredients that affect weight gain in humans:
- Amylopectin A
Amylopectin A triggers LDL particles (low density lipoproteins, “the bad cholesterol”). When wheat consumption stops, these LDL’s drop by 90%. The problem with amylopectin A is that it spikes insulin levels dramatically. These spikes in insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance, the harbinger of diabetes. According to a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, glucose and insulin responses were significantly higher with amylopectin.
Gliadin is a protein component of the protein gluten. It is also an appetite stimulant, a second problem of gliadin. Gliadin also widens a portion of the small intestine that is meant to be small and tight. Expanding this section of the intestine leads to inflammation and more serious conditions like celiac disease.
Wheat also contains an abundance of gluten, which inflames the gut. In addition to the inflammation, the risk of Leaky Gut Syndrome, and the insulin resistance, gluten also leads to leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that informs your brain when you’re full. Leptin resistance will inevitably lead to weight gain.
If you are ready to eliminate or reduce your wheat intake, there are tangible ways to prepare. Start by becoming familiar with the various names wheat goes by. When reading food labels to scope out ingredients, remember that ALL of these are names for wheat:
- Edible starch
- Enriched flour
- Gum base
- Matzo / Matzah
- Food starch
With this many pseudonyms, it’s easy to imagine wheat sneaking into your diet unnoticed. For a comprehensive list of wheat sobriquets, visit this article by Wheat Free.
Next, take a deep breath and reflect on how many of the foods we eat are made with wheat. The list is long and can be intimidating. But below, we offer some tangible advice for making the shift. Here are some of the popular foods we eat that come from wheat or contain substantial amounts of wheat:
- Bread, breadcrumbs
- Cookies, cakes
- Breaded meats and fish
- Packaged convenience foods
And finally, some ideas on how to take the plunge and begin reducing or eliminating wheat from your diet:
- Select foods that are naturally wheat-free. It is tempting at first to seek out “gluten-free bread” or “wheat-free cookies”. While tempting, starting there is a mistake. Instead, discover new foods that fill you up just as well, starting with foods that are naturally wheat-free. Go to a gourmet market or specialty shop to find better options. Explore quinoa, amaranth, millet, and buckwheat – cook them several times in different ways before deciding whether you like it. Remember that part of the reason you “love” wheat is because you’re accustomed to it, and give the new foods a chance.
- Read. Read. Read. Most processed foods contain wheat, even including unsuspected ones like soup or jarred spaghetti sauce. Wheat is used as a thickener in recipes that would never contain wheat if you were cooking it from scratch, so be vigilant.
- Gluten-free is not always wheat-free. If you have targeted wheat specifically (as opposed to gluten), be aware that some gluten-free products still contain wheat, often “gluten-free wheat starch”.
- Order off-menu. Like processed food manufacturers, restaurants also sneak wheat into places you wouldn’t when cooking at home. Because of this, your best bet might be to simply order plain grilled fish or steak, prepared without marinades, breading or sauces. Order sides without sauces also.
- The glass is half full. Perhaps the most powerful thing you can do while shifting to a wheat-free diet is to keep your outlook positively focused on what you can eat. It can be intimidating and depressing thinking over all the things you have to avoid or “give up”. How about reframing it in your mind? How about “giving up” insulin resistance, obesity, and listlessness? Wouldn’t those be nice to “give up”? And keep your focus on all the delicious foods you can eat! Steak, chicken, lobster, ham, and all your favorite meats are naturally wheat-free! Asparagus, zucchini, brussels sprouts, and all green vegetables are wheat-free! Kale, romaine, butter lettuce, and all leafy vegetables are wheat-free! Start with a long list of wheat-free foods and mark all your favorites – there are plenty of delicious foods in the world.
There’s a lot to think about – we get it. If you have questions about wheat, gluten, keto, or weight loss, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
Opt Health is a telehealth platform that reconnects men with wellness, fitness, strength, and sexual vitality through scientific preventive medicine. From your own home, you can schedule with a physician, meet one-on-one via video conference, receive test results, and have medications delivered to your door.
For questions, inquiries, or appointments, don’t hesitate to contact us. Get personalized support and insight from top-tier physicians available 24/7.