Why Wheat is Making you Fatter!

I have increased consumption of my “healthy whole grains” or wheat products, yet I am not healthier. In fact, I have actually increased my body fat! What happened?

Most of us understand, table sugar is not healthy for us. Could whole grains be more detrimental than table sugar?

Dr. William Davis, cardiologist and author, writes in Wheat Belly,

An interesting fact: Whole wheat bread (glycemic index 72) increases blood sugar as much as or more than table sugar or sucrose (glycemic index 59). (Glucose increases blood sugar to 100, hence a glycemic index of 100. The extent to which a particular food increases blood sugar relative to glucose determines that food's glycemic index.) So when I was devising a strategy to help my overweight, diabetes-prone patients reduce blood sugar most efficiently, it made sense to me that the quickest and simplest way to get results would be to eliminate the foods that caused their blood sugar to rise most profoundly.

Nutritionists established the fact that wheat increases blood sugars more profoundly than table sugar thirty years ago. The Glycemic Index or GI is the nutritionists way to measure how much blood sugar levels increase in the 90 to 120 minutes after a food is consumed. By this measure, whole wheat bread has a GI of 72, while plain table sugar has a GI of 59 (though some labs have gotten results as high as 65). In contrast, kidney beans have a GI of 51, grapefruit comes in at 25, while non-carbohydrate foods such as salmon and walnuts have GI of essentially zero: Eating these foods has no effect on blood sugar.

How does whole wheat bread make you more likely to become overweight or obese?

The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends consumption of “healthy whole grains” and wheat products. The AHA claim “ Including whole grains in your diet plan may help you reach or manage a healthy weight.” Turns out, “healthy whole grains” and wheat are not as healthy as we have been told. When we consume high glycemic foods such as “healthy whole grains” and wheat products our body will release insulin in order manage the amount of glucose in the blood.

Dr. James LaValle, writes in Cracking the Metabolic Code,

Diabetes is the result of problems with the pancreatic hormone insulin. Insulin controls the amount of glucose (blood sugar) circulating in the blood and at the rate which it is absorbed into the cells. Every cell in the body is nourished by glucose. It has a critical influence on the way the body performs. Poor blood sugar regulation is the precursor to insulin resistance - one of the most severe side effects of weight gain and primary symptom of metabolic syndrome. The primary dietary concern when it comes to insulin resistance and diabetes in excessive intake of refined carbohydrates (breads, pasta, cereal), sugar (fructose, dextrose, maltodextrin, honey), and high-glycemic foods (whole wheat breads, white bread, pasta, cereal, soda, candy, and even fruit juice). Studies have shown that obese children and adults consume much more refined sweeteners, especially in the form of soda, compared to their normal weight counterparts. Therefore, we see a connection between high sugar consumption and being overweight or obese. Many people either refuse to believe or refuse to act on the fact that excessive sugar intake has a negative impact on their health.

John Keifer, exercise scientist, nutrition expert, and author, writes in Carb Back-Loading,

When insulin is high, it increases the efficiency of fat storage.

Let’s give some references to how detrimental wheat’s glycemic index is. Dr. Davis gives the example that wheat (GI of 72) will spike your blood sugar more than 2 tablespoons of table sugar (GI of 59). In reference, WebMD says, 1 can of non-diet soda contains 3.33 tablespoons of sugar. Your slice whole wheat bread will spike your blood sugar more than your soda. I am not advocating consuming soda, I am suggesting that wheat is worse for you in accordance to the insulin response.

What are you to do?

When you are trying to release body fat, be aware of the glycemic index. The closer the number to 100 the greater the glycemic spike and the greater the insulin spike. Studies have shown high-glycemic foods including “healthy whole grains” will cause your body to release the hormone insulin. The studies have also shown a strong connection with high glycemic food consumption and being overweight or obese. Understand that 1 slice of whole wheat bread (GI of 72) will spike your blood sugar more than 2 tablespoons of pure table sugar (GI of 59). The average can of non-diet soda contains 3.33 tablespoons of sugar. Your slice of whole wheat bread will spike your blood sugar more than the soda will. Consume minimal “high glycemic” foods with a GI value over 50 . Avoid “healthy whole grains” and any wheat products. Replace these high glycemic foods with meats (wild caught salmon, free range chicken - 0, grass fed beef - 0), vegetables (spinach - 15, broccoli - 10, cucumbers -15, peppers - 10) and some fruits (blackberries - 5, blueberries - 5, strawberries - 1) and watch the fat melt away…


Steven Zahn

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Pre and Post Partum Certified

Dragondoor Publications: HKC Russian Kettlebell Certified

Email: szahn@lifetimefitness.com