With all of the quick fixes and abundance of conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to know which way to go. Well, a simple, free way to get the ball rolling is by eliminating all wheat from your diet. Now this may sound way too simple, but there is a physiologic explanation for this and here it is:
The first concept that needs to be understood is that for the most part it is not dietary fat, but rather the carbohydrate that is mostly responsible for increased deposition of body fat. This includes everything from bread, sugar, pasta, and even too much fruit. This is due to the fact that these foods break down to glucose in the body, which then prompts the release of insulin. Insulin delivers what glucose is needed to fill stores in tissue like the liver and muscles, with the rest being stored as fat.
You see this mechanism came in handy for our Paleolithic hunter and gatherer ancestors who encountered real periods of feast and famine due to the unavailability of food supply. It was at these times that the fat stores would be utilized to survive. For the most part this is not the case today as we live in an age of availability and relative abundance.
The issue arises when, due to high carb meals, insulin is constantly triggered by elevated blood glucose levels. When no more is needed for fuel, the storage of fat begins. The difference being, most people do not fast or skip meals at this point, but rather eat another carb heavy meal when hungry or even out of habit. The fat storage continues, the pounds pile on and the waist circumference balloons. The higher the carb content of the meal, the higher the blood sugar rises, the more drastic spike in insulin, and the more fat being deposited; mainly around the waist and abdominal region.
This creates a vicious cycle as a high carb meal will lead to a high insulin response from the pancreas. This aggressive clearing of glucose from the blood can then leave you tired and hungry for another ride on the blood sugar roller coaster.
This is also the mechanism behind type II diabetes, as repeated spikes of blood sugar from high carb meals and subsequent surges in insulin in response to the blood sugar spikes leads your tissues to become insulin resistant, not wanting to accept any more glucose. At this point the only place for your body to dump the glucose load is around your waist as body fat.
So why is wheat public enemy #1 if you are diabetic, trying to lose weight or simply interested in overall health? Well if we comprehend the physiologic process laid out above, we understand that the higher the carb load, the more insulin is secreted and the more fat is stored for a rainy day; or better yet a beach day when it’s really appreciated.
Wheat is special due to the fact that it breaks down into a complex carbohydrate (a string of glucose molecules) in the body called amylopectin A. This particular carb has the distinguished honor of spiking the blood sugar more than actual table sugar.
If you are familiar with the glycemic index, you know it is basically a scale or measurement showing how readily absorbed a food is and the effects it will have on the blood sugar levels. Wheat ranks higher on the glycemic index than actual table sugar.
If we combine that knowledge with the knowledge of the carbohydrate digestive process that leads to fat deposition and the road to diabetes that we described above, we know that this is a big, bad deal. It also is essential, empowering knowledge of you are looking to drop the weight.
In addition to leading to weight gain and the metabolic dysfunction described above, wheat packs one more diabolical punch in that it is actually chemically addictive. You may hear people joke about their addiction to bread, but chemically it breaks down and serves as an exorphin to your brain that stimulates the same pleasure generating opioid receptors as heroin or morphine. There is a reason for the overeating of this mind altering, comfort food, and now you hopefully have another reason to kick it to the curb.
Two points in closing:
Many people resist the notion that wheat, or any food they were raised on can have such a negative impact. What needs to be fully understood is that the food, and wheat in particular, of today is not the food of the past. Cross breeding, hybridization and genetic modification has created a new product not in line with our genome, of which the long term effects are not known.
What is known is the basic human physiology and systemic impacts of elevated blood sugar (which wheat is king at causing), as far as weight gain and the path to diabetes. The fact that a diet consisting of heart healthy grains is still suggested to anyone, but especially those with the aforementioned two conditions is outright shameful.
The second point is that while kicking wheat (and all wheat, not just the obvious bread; read your labels) can have a strong impact on weight and blood sugar control, it needs to be accompanied with an intelligent diet. It seems obvious, but if you avoid wheat, but continue to drink soda, eat a high sugar diet (excess fruit included), and high carb/sugar gluten free alternatives, results will in all likelihood be hindered or outright negated.
However, beginning to phase the wheat and gluten out of your regular regimen can have benefits well beyond those covered in this brief post, but is essential if you are looking to drop some weight or regain control of your blood sugar.