Are you hungry?

Eliminate modern high-yield semi-dwarf Triticum aestivum . . . and what is the effect on appetite?

A reduction in appetite is among the most common and profound experiences resulting from wheat elimination. I know that I have personally felt it: Wake up in the morning, little interest in breakfast for several hours. Lunch? Maybe I'll have a few bites of something. Dinner . . . well, I'd like to exercise first.

The wheatless report that:

--Appetite diminishes to the point where you can't remember whether you've eaten or not. It is not uncommon to miss a meal, perfectly content. Calorie intake drops by 400 calories per day, on average, calories you otherwise would not have needed but all went to . . . you know where.
--Hunger feels different: It's not the gnawing, rumbling hunger that plagues you every 2 hours. In its place, you will find that hunger feels like a soft reminder that, gee, maybe it's time to have something to eat because you haven't had anything in--what?--4 to 6 hours. And it's a subtle reminder, not a desperate hunt that makes you knock people aside at the food bar, steal coworkers' lunches stored in the refrigerator, salivating at the mere thought of food.
--The simplest foods satisfy--It no longer requires an all-you-can-eat buffet to satisfy, but a few small pieces of healthy food. (Yeah, but what happens to revenues at Kraft, Nabisco, and Kelloggs, not to mention the revenues at agribusiness giants ADM and Monsanto? Slash consumption by, say, 30%, you likewise slash revenues by 30%. What would shareholders say?)
--Even prolonged periods of not eating, i.e., fasting, is endured with ease.

Hunger and the relentless search for something to eat disappear for most people. By eliminating the appetite-stimulating properties of wheat, we return to a natural state of eating for sustenance, to satisfy physiologic need. We are no longer victims of this incredibly powerful appetite-stimulant called gliadin from wheat.

This is why many diets fail: They fail to remove this powerful appetite stimulant. You might eat only lean meats, limit your calories, and exercise 90 minutes per day, but as long as the gliadin protein is pushing your appetite button, you will want to eat more or you will have to mount monumental willpower to resist it. You can lose 20 pounds on phase 1 of the South Beach diet, for instance, only to regain it in phases 2 and 3 when "healthy whole grains" are added back.

So the key is to remove the gliadin protein from your life, i.e., eliminate all things wheat.


Comments (43) -

  • SamK

    12/6/2011 6:14:11 PM |

    Dr. Davis,
    The question arises - why has nature put the gliadin protein in a seed. If it is an appetite stimulant it is likely a predator will want more and more of it. That is not in the interest of the seed whose purpose is to propagate itself. Please let us know your thoughts.  Thank you for all that you do.

  • Howard

    12/6/2011 6:25:31 PM |

    The elimination of wheat may or may not have been what decreased my appetite enough to allow me to lose 100 lbs without much effort, but I did notice one effect that was even more important to me. I wrote about the complete remission of crippling arthritis in my post on

  • Kurt

    12/6/2011 6:39:55 PM |

    This hasn't been true for me. Your advice has helped me improve my cholesterol profile dramatically, lower my fasting blood sugar, lower my blood pressure, etc. However, there's been no change in my appetite, and I eat a larger volume of food now because I cut down on some high calorie foods like butter, cheese, etc.

  • Phyllis

    12/6/2011 6:56:35 PM |

    I too have noticed the diminished appetite, but also I have noticed a new and very pleasant feeling *after* eating. The feeling of fullness... of having had enough food, without the overstuffed feeling that I used to experience.
    It is truely a nice, warm, satisflied feeling.
    Going from a size 16 to a size 4 jeans is a nice feeling as well!

  • Princess Dieter

    12/6/2011 8:44:45 PM |

    I did notice an appetite reduction. Hubby did not. Maybe because I'd had a freaky bingey appetite and he never had...well...more noticeable. I could eat 5K calories a day, EASY, if I had wheat back in. For sure.  I do fine with 1500, 1600 now.

  • Mark Sanders

    12/6/2011 9:15:35 PM |

    One item I don't see mentioned here is heartburn.  I used to have severe episodes when I'd have to down a bunch of Tums and milk to deal with them, and they could occur anytime day or night.  I stopped eating wheat about 2 years ago,  for other reasons, and it took me about 2 months before I realized I wasn't having anymore heartburn episodes.  The occasional times my stomach might feel upset, I just drink water and it goes away.  Even though I've been free of these for the last 2 years, I still carry Tums around with me because I'm still paranoid it's going to happen again.

  • Ute

    12/6/2011 11:45:28 PM |

    Kurt, are you eating enough fats and proteins? I went paleo about a year ago, and I increased fats and protein. Lost almost 30lbs and my hunger is just as described in this post.

  • Donald Kjellberg

    12/7/2011 2:21:02 AM |

    It had a similar effect on my heartburn. I find it fascinating that one of the causes of heartburn is completely missed by my doctor and generally, the medical establishment. I also believe that I was eating much more, (due to appetite alterations, food reward, etc.), my full stomach, and excess fat also played a role in exacerbating the symptoms. Target the etiology and the problem vanishes. Much improved over targeting the symptoms allowing the precipitant to return again and again and again . . . .

  • Shreela

    12/7/2011 4:52:27 AM |

    Wow, I never put wheat and heartburn together, but now that they've been brought up together, I believe wheat may have been causing my heartburn too, which reappears whenever I fall off the wheat-wagon. BTW, whenever I fall off the wheat-wagon, my hypoglycemic symptoms are more likely to reappear too.

  • Might-O'chondri-AL

    12/7/2011 5:12:18 AM |

    Hi Howard,
    +/- 4% of the cell protein in wheat grain is LEA (late embryo-genesis abundant protein) that helps the plant bear up without osomotic failure when temperatures drop & also keeps the grain proteins from melding together when conditions get very dry. Modern wheat breeding has manipulated LEA protein conformations to improve crop cultivation habits; I think this fits into what Doc calls a "frankengrain" .

    The group 3 variety of LEA protein's high molecular weight molecules are not broken down readily by proteo-lysis in the gut . When they are taken up by the body the LEA protein is capable of "sensitizing" some individuals to it like an antigen irritant. We don't know what precise amino acid wings the LEA we ingest in a modern wheat breed have. And stripping gluten from the grain doesn't necessarily mean the LEA molecule is also removed.

    LEA can bind to IgE (immunolo-globulin E) from our joint's synovial mast cells. The subsequent release of histamine in the joint tissue incurs the auto-immune  response of  inflammation with  subsequent pain. I think LEA  "sensitization" is what you experience as arthritis due to wheat..

  • Dacia Felix

    12/7/2011 9:55:12 AM |

    For me, one of the effects of elimination of wheat was the  disappearing of dandruff. My dandruff was really bad and no special shampoos or treatments could alleviate the problem. A few months after giving up wheat,  I noticed that I no longer had dandruff!!!!  I even kept my hair unwashed for nearly a month, yet my hair remained dandruff free. Nowadays I wash my hair once a week instead of every day.

  • Susan Clarke

    12/7/2011 6:41:01 PM |

    Yeah, but chasing symptoms rather than looking for causes is the modus operandi of the entire US medical system. Well, most of it anyway.  Don't try to figure out what's causing the problem, just throw another drug at it.

  • puddle

    12/7/2011 7:27:19 PM |

    Yup. (and yup and yup and YUP)

  • calma60

    12/8/2011 12:05:14 AM |

    Just started eliminating wheat and reducing high carb foods around Thanksgiving. My fasting blood sugar used to be around 150; now it's 123. I actually have blood sugar readings after meals that are between 95-115. Once in awhile I get hungry, but I don't crave sweets like I used to. This program overall feels like something I can make a permanent change to.

  • Might-O'chondri-AL

    12/8/2011 12:13:05 AM |

    Hi D. Felilx,
    Dandruff relief from quitting wheat is likely due to eliminating the non-digestible wheat protein fragments  that you were sensitive to. Those wheat fragments had been going on to bind with  IgE put out from local basophils (basophils are +/- 0.6%, or 0.006,  of our bone marrow generated white blood cells). The degree of itchy scalp is a factor of the amount of histamine put out from those basophils. Usually a itch response is to hot extremes of both water and air; but some are wired to itch in response to cold extremes of water/air.

    When wheat protein fragments activate the basophil's IgE this causes the hair follicle wall to respond in an immunological manner & inflammatory cells in the follicle wall hold more sebum oil; with different dandruff results. In most individuals that sebum oil isn't used enough to normally  re-lubricate the surrounding scalp because the local increase of  sebum fatty acids gets taken advantage of and hijacked by the common scalp  yeast Pithyrosporum ovale. With the fast replication of lipo-phylic (fat loving)  P. ovale there is a lot of new progeny & sloughing off of  obsolete P. ovale cells, plus shed (lipid deprived) skin cells that we see as small "snowy" dandruff ; & this is usually accompanied by itching. The other situation is when the building up sebum seeps  to the surrounding scalp skin &  in this case the dandruff manifests as thick scales that usually doesn't provoke much itching; this is a scalp seborrhea & has a genetic predisposition to run in some families.

  • Dr. William Davis

    12/9/2011 3:25:32 AM |

    I don't think that wheat is aware that humans are a "predator."

    And the gliadin protein of modern wheat is not the natural form; it is the form created by geneticists.

  • Dr. William Davis

    12/9/2011 3:27:30 AM |

    The relief from acid reflux and "heartburn" is a very frequent accompaniment to elimination of wheat, as is relief from the cramps and diarrhea of "irritable bowel syndrome."

    Of course, it makes you wonder what else wheat is capable of in the gastrointestinal tract if this occurs so commonly.

  • Dr. William Davis

    12/9/2011 3:29:21 AM |

    This has happened to enough people, Dacia, that I believe it is likely to be a real association.

    This is a lesson I've learned about here and other online forums, as it's not something I purposely track in the office experience.

    This is yet another manifestation of how incredibly varied the skin expression of wheat's health disruptive effects can be.

  • Bob

    12/9/2011 4:17:23 AM |

    What about oat bran and steel cut oat meal? Are they as bad as wheat. They are supposed to be good for cutting LDL.

  • Annie

    12/11/2011 11:23:08 PM |

    Why would wheat be a pre curser to heart burn? I too suffer from bad heart burn on a regular basis and I can't seem to stop it.

  • Kurt

    12/12/2011 8:27:58 PM |

    Yes, I am eating enough fats and proteins.

  • Patrick

    12/12/2011 10:45:00 PM |

    No you are more butter and cheese!  Preferably from grass fed animals, as the "fat profile"  is proven MUCH better for human consumption.   Fat will NOT ruin your health...though it will ruin your cholesterol reading with those "cheapy" tests that ESTIMATE LDL measures.  NMR profiles are generally improved.   Check into Dr. Davis's archives for more on these topics.
    Yum.  Loves me some FAT!

  • Carl Crawford

    12/13/2011 9:20:07 PM |

    I believe you have a problem.
    I am not receiving your blog posts.
    Feedburner notifies me that my email addresses is in your database, but I receive no email notifications from your site.
    This has been a problem since you changed your site several months ago. Before that time I was receiving your emails.
    Could you look into this issue please?

    Regards, Carl

  • Dr. William Davis

    12/14/2011 2:52:22 AM |

    Oat products do not provoke appetite nor abnormal intestinal permeability like wheat. However, oats send your blood sugar sky-high. That's why we avoid it.

  • Lee Woodruff

    12/15/2011 2:32:28 PM |

    When I saw my Doctor eight months ago and told her my weight loss had stalled, she smiled and said "well you have  just reached an age where you can't loose a weight", and prescribed me a statin. In a sense she was right. Post 50+ the hormones are running against you. Well I'm now 28 lbs lighter, and at the lower end of my BMI and my tummy almost flat. Thanks basically to intermittent fasting, keeping the carbs down, oh and elimination wheat. The statin prescription went in the bin by the way,

  • Martyn

    12/15/2011 9:01:04 PM |

    A more general end-of-year thanks to you, Dr Davis, for the work you have done on the blog, and on Wheat Belly. I believe your work in practical preventative medicine is quite brilliant, and way ahead of its time.

    I have read every post, and look forward to reading more from you in 2012.

    Many Thanks

  • Lindas

    12/15/2011 9:16:12 PM |

    Dr. I have to take cranberry juice, (organic, concentrate, no sugar) for Urinary track infection,  BS goes to 119-127)  what to do?
    Also, D- Mannose, helps also, but know its a sugar?
    Prescribed Cipro, but cautious to take after reading side effects.

  • Lindas

    12/15/2011 9:19:47 PM |

    Yes, Doctor, I also want to thank you for the "against the grain" courageous stance you've taken!!!!!
    Much happiness and joy for you and your family in the year ahead.

  • Julie

    12/20/2011 5:51:38 AM |

    Sorry, my question is off-topic.
    But my father just had a stress test done because he had chest pain when exercising. Unfortunately, the test results were positive (abnormal). His doctor suggested doing Coronary angiography and possibly putting a stent in. As well as adding a beta-blocker. My father is already taking a statin.
    These results really scared me. What should he do to reduce the risk of a heart attack? Would you recommend any additional tests? Is it worth it to make a heart scan in this case?

    Thank you very much!!!!

  • Sam Sinderson

    12/20/2011 10:30:39 PM |

    Low carb is fine and doing so has "normalized" my blood sugar, reduced my hemoroid, increased hair growth and decreased nasel infections.  However, in doing a diet anaylsis I find I am eating 120 to 170 grams of protein, because of the addition of meat of all kinds and also cheese to my diet, which according to several other sources, Dr. Rosedale for one, is detremental.  If I limit my protein to 1 gm per kg of weight , I have seen recommended several places, plus a little becasue of my rather rigerous excercise program, I would be at 70 gm of protein per day.  Yesterday I did that, and I literally have to eat either olive oil or coconut oil by the tablespoon to get my calorie level up to 2200 or so to maintain my weight at 145 lbs and that is after 4 tbls of oil cooking two eggs in the morning!  Does Dr. Davis's protocal have any limits on protein?  My wife thinks I'm nuts eating coconut oil, which melts in ones mouth and is actually quite tasty.

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    12/21/2011 10:02:35 PM |

    Dec. 2012  The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association report of Arnold Berstad & Jørgen Valeur of Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital explain that a meal's glucose monitored in the stomach registers in the brainstem which then reflexively signals the muscles in the stomach wall to relax.
    Quote: “... it can decrease the pressure on the stomach and reduce the sensation of being full....The problem is that ...the brakes on carbohydrate consumption are five metres further down, at the lower end of the small intestine....Fat, however, is absorbed higher up in the system and triggers a high-placed brake. It makes you quickly full."

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    12/21/2011 10:04:18 PM |

    Journal's date should be 2011 Dec.

  • James

    12/23/2011 5:54:29 PM |

    I have eliminated wheat and all sugars & carbs for about 6 months. I have lost almost 30# (from 200 to 173) in those 6 months. But now I am stalled. I have been at 173 for almost a month and have done nothing different. I want to lose another 10-15#. I am 5' 6" and still have some abdomal buldge. My weight loss was an almost straight line down for 6 months. What causes this plateau? I understand that my caloric needs will have changed due to the loss of 30# and I have adjusted for that. Anyone have any ideas?

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    12/24/2011 4:09:18 AM |

    Hi James,
          I can only relate an interpretation of my experimentation this last year plus. Since I never have struggled with my weight it may not translate to others. My goal was mainly to see what changes were possible in MNR tests of lipid particles I could achieve with Doc's insight (excellent results I'd say).
           I recently completed several months when my only fat intake daily was a combination of coconut oil (2 tablespoons daily , as 28 grams total fat) , plus fish oil (4.5 grams total fat, as 1 teaspoon = 1.5 gr. EPA + 0.75 gr. DHA), plus 90% chocolate's cocoa butter (60 grams, as 33 grams total fat), plus some olive and restaurants' cooking oils. And I also specify that there was no intake of animal fat (ie: no meat) , fowl fat  (ie: no chicken or eggs) or dairy fat (ie: only fat free dairy) - unless a restaurant used some in their food preparation.
           My experience without any low calorie restraint, nor over eating,  was that I lost weight and  continued to do so beyond what I find suitable. In other words I had to periodically resort to over ingesting carbohydrate calories to stop from getting too thin. Of course I made sure to keep my daily protein intake consistently high enough all throughout the year.
         When I started my experiment it was by daily using only 1 tablespoon of  raw unrefined coconut oil  & lost weight at nights.  I took my first ever MNR test after a handfull of months of this.
         After the initial MNR test I added the daily 1 teaspoon of fish oil , kept to the 1 tablespoon coconut oil (14 gr. fat) , but an irregular chocolate intake was daily limited to 40 grams (22 gr. fat) &  even lost more weight. I took a 2nd MNR test after 4 months of that to see what was doing with my lipids.
         Then I upped the daily raw coconut oil to 2 tablespoons, chocolate up to regularly 60 grams & kept fish oil at same 4.5 grams for 7 months before I took a 3rd MNR test . It was during this latest stretch of experimentation that I sometimes needed to regulate my weight upwards by deliberately adding back more carbohydrates - & I was not pursuing a daily very low carb intake anyway.
          All that staged experimentation seems to indicate that using coconut oil as my primary fat is what drove my weight loss. When I added in fish oil the weight loss rate was not noticeably accelerated & I can't distinguish it from the pattern  begun with coconut oil. However when I eventually  went up to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily I sometimes had to fight to just hold on to my weight. The chocolate intake seems to be less of a factor in my weight loss.
          So retrospectively, in my case I think the exclusion of animal/fowl/dairy fat kept certain specific fatty acids out of play and then the distinct fatty acids in coconut oil were both metabolized and incorporated in unique ways that resulted in sustained weight loss for me. I was concerned  that 2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day might be excessive yet last MNR done is superb (I don't seem to be ApoE 4).
         Doc, you may know, has several posts about using finger stick testing of your blood sugar before and after meals. He explains how to use a simple home glucose meter to know which meals spike your blood sugar and lose weight by controlling after eating glucose "excursions".

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    12/24/2011 8:03:09 AM |

    Hi S. Sinderson,
    Since Doc hasn't answered you about his protein protocol yet this may orientate you. Protein intake can't exceed the ability of liver enzymes to make urea as a consequence of liver's nitrogen metabolism. Basically, if one is healthy,  beyond 3.9 grams protein daily per kg. of our body weight we can't  urinate all nitrogen "waste" from the kidneys adequately.
    1973 Rudman set a periodic daily physiologically safe upper limit of 3.8 gr./kg one weighs (ie: not always every day) .... 2000 Metges calculated a top long term daily protein limit should be 2 gr/kg one weighs .... 1996 Eades pegged exercisers wanting to lose weight should use 1.7 gr./kg one weighs....2010 Speth analysis of paleo-anthropology suggests no more than 35% of calories were ever from protein (ie: less than 3.9 gr/kg hunter weighed daily).

  • Kathy

    12/31/2011 4:42:45 PM |

    Has this blog been abandoned by Dr. Davis, in favor of the Wheat Belly blog?

  • Laura

    12/31/2011 11:52:15 PM |

    Hi Might - regarding your 12/24 post on the coconut oil, etc. experiement.  If you did not eat dairy, meat, fowl or eggs (?) for protein what did you eat for protein.  I am very curious because I have been in a stall for a loooonnngggg time (about 6 months).  I also take coconut oil daily (2 tsp) and Omega 3 fish oil (950 mg of EPA & DHA combined).  I also should mention that I am diabetic (T2).  My carb intake is 30-60 grams per day.
    I am trying to find a way to break this stall and your post intrigued me greatly.  
    Thank you,

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    1/3/2012 6:07:11 AM |

    Hi Laura,
        I buy 1 gallon of fat free milk & culture it into Kefir, which I then drain the whey from and go on to eat the milk solids. I roughly weigh the kefir "quark" that goes into the refrigerator because each batch will have it's own variable amount of whey remaining . Once I know the batch weight I do a simple calculation to divide the  total weight of that batch by 6 to know roughly how much protein is in a 1/6th portion.
        When I know much 1/6 of the kefir quark made from tthat 1 gallon of milk I will then eat one of those 1/6th proportioned amounts in the morning, again during the day a  2nd 1/6th amount  and  then a 3rd  final 1/6th amount of the kefir quark.  
       The result is that in 1 single day the milk solids are equal to 1/2 gallon of fat free milk.  I approximate this as containing, in total,  around 70 grams of protein which for me is a good minimum protein requirement . Then any other protein I eat in the day is not crucial & usually in form of nuts, hummus or  some stray egg ingredient which can't measure reliably. I think my daily protein consumption is around 120 grams or more protein daily  (I certainly am not eating only 1 gram protein per kg of my weight).
         In terms of people stalling on low carb & pseudo-paleo diets I do have some nuanced ideas if you'd like, but I don't know how applicable the research might be. It isn't like a formula & needs longer context to elaborate .

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    1/3/2012 11:55:02 PM |

    Hi Laura,
    Please see what I also tagged you at Doc's next thread (1st in 2012) on this same blog.

  • Anna

    1/17/2012 6:04:22 PM |

    Dr. Davis....what do you say to people who claim they are emotional eaters and can eat over the "no appetite" feeling?

  • pjnoir

    2/18/2012 12:10:49 AM |

    nothing satisfies hunger better than homemade beef or chicken stock,with beef being the best. One of my diet secrest when doing my low carb/Paleo regiment.

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