Do the math: 41.7 pounds per year

Consumers of wheat take in, on average, 400 calories more per day. Conversely, people who eliminate wheat consume, on average, 400 calories less per day.

400 calories per day multiplied by 365 days per day equals 146,000 additional calories over the course of one year. 146,000 calories over a year equals 41.7 pounds gained per year. Over a decade, that's 417 pounds. Of course, few people actually gain this much weight over 10 years.

But this is the battle most people who follow conventional advice to "cut your fat and eat more healthy whole grains" are fighting, the constant struggle to subdue the appetite-increasing effects of the gliadin protein of wheat, pushing your appetite buttons to consume more . . . and more, and more, fighting to minimize the impact.

So, if you eat "healthy whole grains" and gain "only" 10 pounds this year, that's an incredible success, since it means that you have avoided gaining the additional 31.7 pounds that could have accumulated. It might mean having to skip meals despite your cravings, or exercising longer and harder, or sticking your finger down your throat.

400 additional calories per day times 365 days per year times 300,000,000 people in the U.S. alone . . . that's a lot of dough. Is this entire scenario an accident?

Or, of course, you could avoid the entire situation and kiss wheat goodbye . . . and lose 20, 30, or 130 pounds this year.

Comments (21) -

  • Keenan

    10/14/2011 3:56:07 AM |

    On Sept. 10 I stopped my consumption of wheat containing foods and multi-grain rice crackers. Two weeks later I began having aching elbows which have not bothered me for years. I'm a 65 yr old male, thin with a bit of a 'wheat belly'  which is shrinking but my muscle mass is also shrinking. Have you heard of anyone experiencing changes in joints after stopping wheat and grains?

  • David Klatte

    10/14/2011 10:58:16 AM |

    That math isn't right and it is pretty misleading because a person who ate 400 more calories per day would gain weight up until they reached an equilibrium. It would be better to use something like the Harris Benedict equation to get a sense of how bad that is.

    I did that for a six foot 180 pound male who is 30 years old who is lightly active. Such an individual would maintain their weight at about 2246 calories per day. If they instead consumed 2646 calories per day, you would expect their weight to top off at about 244.7 pounds after some period of time. About a 65 pound gain, so nothing to sneeze at.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/14/2011 12:48:30 PM |

    Hi, Keenan--

    I've only seen relief from arthritis, not a triggering of arthritis. That's strange.

    Of course, we are all subject to conditions that fall outside of wheat. It will be interesting to see whether this persists.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/14/2011 12:49:04 PM |

    Thanks, David.

    Yes, this was hardly a scientific analysis, just an argument to graphically illustrate what we are battling.

  • Philippa

    10/14/2011 12:51:54 PM |

    This would be actionable advice across the Atlantic in the UK, where the Health Minister landed himself in a controversy this week by annoucing the Brits need to cut 5 billion calories off their annual diet.

  • Teresa

    10/14/2011 8:23:30 PM |

    I couldn't post this below about the drug companies.  

    While I agree that a person should not be made to take medications against their will, what am I to do for a patient with a blood pressure of 220/110, on several occasions?  I have had a few.  They refused meds, and also refused to make any diet or lifestyle changes that may have helped.  While I haven't discharged any patients because of this, I do make sure they know the potential consequences of severe hypertension, including death.  Or worse, complete paralysis on one side, requiring total care.  Sometimes it's a matter of lesser evils.

    More of my patients want the  pills, because they are unwilling to do anything else to help their condition, even though I encourage them, and offer referrals for further education.  I hear it's too complicated, or their insurance won't cover it and it's too expensive.  I doubt I could make a living in my community without a prescription pad.  I wish I could!  I'll keep trying.

  • Princess Dieter

    10/14/2011 9:29:06 PM |

    Just a heads up (although you may have already seen it) is that Gillian Riley, the UK expert on food addiction/breaking out of overeating, recommended WHEAT BELLY in her October newsletter.

    I've often recommended Ms. Riley's books--EATING LESS ; BEATING OVEREATING; and WILLPOWER!--to fellow hyperconditioned overeaters.

    Not eating wheat/sugar  sure helps in the "not overeating" dept. Laughing And Gillian is on board with that.

  • Corey

    10/14/2011 9:42:55 PM |

    Love your site doctor, but this is a terribly naive and simplistic approach. Calorie numbers are irrelevant, it's the kind of calories. Yes, I understand that the 400 you mention would most likely be 400 calories of additional carbs, but calories in/calories out don't determine weight now, do they?

    Really shouldn't post anything reinforcing the outdated but still omnipresent "calorie equilibrium" theory (fairy tale is more like it) of weight gain.

    Otherwise, keep up the good work.

  • Rieland Rigg

    10/15/2011 1:30:51 AM |

    I guess that explains pretty clearly why I've been able to lose about 40 lbs so far in 9 months... Smile

  • Ted Hutchinson

    10/15/2011 9:14:49 AM |

    If you live in the Northerm hemisphere Vitamin D levels drop from September through to March unless effective strength supplementation is implemented.
    Also 65yrs old the natural production of the antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antioxidants melatonin and vitamin d will have declined (by age 75 only 25% of vit d capacity is possible if sufficient 7-dehydrocholesterol remains in skin) so everyone becomes far more sensitive to pain/inflammation (and infection).  You can replace the missing Vitamin D3, melatonin with at least 5000iu/D3/oil based gelcap and 3mg Time Release melatonin (Also pay strict attention to improving natural melatonin secretion by using Flux getting outdoors midday and total darkness while asleep. ) Search this site for good Vitamin D3 & Melatonin information.

  • Kris

    10/15/2011 12:11:25 PM |

    A few months ago I did an experiment and cut all wheat and sugar out of my diet.

    That is, if it would contain even a trace amount I would not touch it. I managed to follow this approach for two months, I didn't measure my food intake but my body fat dropped quite a lot and I could see much more muscle definition, especially in my abdominal area.

    Personally I think sugar and wheat are the two main contributors to obesity, and I think the "minimum effective dose" for optimal health would be to remove those two ingredients completely. And of course that doesn't allow any room for "cheat meals" like some people think.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/15/2011 1:25:26 PM |

    Well said, Chris.

    I agree. In particular, I find that no wheat is far better than less wheat. I believe this is mostly due to the appetite-triggering effect of wheat gliadin.

  • Linda

    10/15/2011 1:27:22 PM |

    I am also living in the Northern Hemisphere [Iowa] and do not get nearly as much sunshine as I should.I tend to be a hermit and spend most of my day inside.  Also over 65. I am taking 5000 IU a day of Vit D, gelcaps.
    Without a lot of testing, is there a way to determine if I should take more and, if so, how much. My biggest concern is tightness in the hip area every morning.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/15/2011 1:28:17 PM |

    Well, Corey, allow me to elaborate on my "terribly naive and simplistic approach."

    This is clearly not a scientific analysis, but a simple effort to illustrate what happens with simple math what could theoretically happen with an additional 400 calories per day intake but ignoring all other factors, such as proportion fat vs. carbohydrates.

    So of course this is simplistic. It just makes the point that the increased calorie consumption triggered by wheat gliadin has potentially huge effects.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/15/2011 1:44:40 PM |

    Good to have friends in this battle, Princess!

    We are up against the incredible financial and lobbying might of vertically-integrated Agribusiness and Big Food, who have billions of dollars to allocate on lobbying, marketing, and pushing their agenda. We have social media, the internet, and our wits.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/15/2011 1:46:00 PM |

    Hi, Dr. Teresa--

    That's all you can do: Keep on trying.

    I'm impressed that you DO try, since most of our colleagues pay no mind whatsoever to even considering genuinely effective dietary changes.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/15/2011 2:16:54 PM |

    Hi, Philippa--

    Let's see: England, population 51 million times 400 calories per day, times 365 days per day, equals 7.446 x 10,000,000,000,000 calories, or several thousand times more than the Health Minister proposes.

    5 billion calories would be child's play.

  • Ted Hutchinson

    10/16/2011 8:41:41 AM |

    I don't think there is any way anyone can accurately predict their 25(OH)D level either from uvb exposure or daily supplement usage. It depends on individual response. The banner graph at GRASSROOTSHEALTH.ORG shows for any regular daily intake the 25(OH)D achieved varies up to 100ng/ml. Taking 5000iu daily D3 only increases your chances of staying around 50ng/ml  but you could be anywhere between 20ng/ml and 120ng/ml without testing you can't know. After you've had a few tests you get to the point where you can predict the result but it's still worth retesting annualy to make sure nothing's changed. You should be able to find a 25(OH)D test for $60.

  • Fat Guy Weight Loss

    10/16/2011 3:11:20 PM |

    I eliminated sugar and wheat from my diet just from the observation that the food did not keep me full as long compared to other foods of same number of calories.  Not only led to weight loss but also eliminated my ocassional GERD as well as frequent stomach discomfort.  Now I have even more reasons to stay off the stuff and now being 95% wheat free (indulge in ocassional small portion of dessert) I no longer crave these foods and feel great.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/18/2011 12:52:08 AM |

    How about "Skinny Guy Weight Loss"? (I didn't feel right calling you "Fat Guy . . .")

    It's such a simple formula for returning to health. I, personally, experienced relief from the same gastrointestinal effects. With any small indulgence, I am provided a graphic reminder of how it used to be.

    Stay strong. Your body will be grateful!