DIET WATCH

Ev­ery month for a year, nutri­tion­ist Drew Price fol­lows a dif­fer­ent diet. This is­sue…

Men's Fitness - - Contents -

How ef­fec­tive is a gluten-free diet?

THE DIET

One of the best-known ‘gluten-free’ di­ets, Wheat Belly aims to im­prove your physique and over­all health by cut­ting out wheat and other gluten-con­tain­ing grains.

THE CLAIM

Wheat is a sta­ple grain across the globe, but one that has been in­tensely cul­ti­vated and has changed over the years. As a re­sult, ac­cord­ing to Wheat Belly au­thor and car­di­ol­o­gist Dr Wil­liam Davis, mod­ern grains (and the gluten and ad­di­tional com­pounds they con­tain) are ad­dic­tive and de­stroy our health. Davis’s book makes bold fat-loss claims, in­clud­ing a pre­dicted 6-8kg re­duc­tion in weight within the first month of fol­low­ing the diet, as well as list­ing broader benefits that in­clude im­prov­ing the au­toim­mune sys­tem, slow­ing down the age­ing process and re­duc­ing the risk of de­vel­op­ing dis­eases such as can­cer and di­a­betes.

THE METHOD

The diet is pretty sim­ple, in that all it spec­i­fies is that you avoid grains that con­tain gluten, such as wheat, bar­ley and rye. You can do it the easy way, by re­plac­ing grains with starchy sub­sti­tutes such as corn pasta, or the hard way – which I chose – by for­go­ing starchy food al­to­gether and opt­ing for ex­tra pro­tein, healthy fats and fi­brous veg.

THE RE­AL­ITY

The down­side to this diet’s sim­plic­ity is that it of­fers lit­tle in terms of guide­lines to fol­low or sug­ges­tions for how to re­place grains in your diet. Since grains are ba­si­cally ev­ery­where, this makes it fairly im­prac­ti­cal, es­pe­cially if you’re eat­ing out. In the end, I re­sorted to cooking meals from scratch at home with sim­ple in­gre­di­ents and car­ry­ing food around with me in Tup­per­ware tubs all day. When I stuck to this I was fine, but when it wasn’t pos­si­ble I ended mak­ing poor food choices, miss­ing meals and gen­er­ally fall­ing into di­etary dis­ar­ray.

THE RE­SULTS

The diet was an­noy­ing, and the re­sults didn’t help mat­ters ei­ther. I ac­tu­ally gained 1kg in weight over the month, which – ac­cord­ing to my Speed­flex body com­po­si­tion anal­y­sis – was at­trib­uted to a 3kg rise in fat mass and a 2kg drop in mus­cle mass, de­spite my train­ing vol­ume and in­ten­sity be­ing strictly con­trolled from month to month. My blood work also showed a rise in ‘bad’ LDL choles­terol and vis­ceral fat. So over­all it wasn’t ex­actly a roar­ing suc­cess.

PRICE’S VER­DICT

‘Since grains are ev­ery­where, this diet is fairly im­prac­ti­cal’

If you’re ex­tremely over­weight or ad­dicted to donuts and pastries, Wheat Belly will help – and it’s cer­tainly a use­ful, straight­for­ward op­tion for coeliac dis­ease suf­fer­ers. But if you’re a regular guy in OK shape look­ing to build mus­cle and burn fat, this is not the diet for you.

Thanks to Speed­flex (speed­flex.com)

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