There are plenty of reasons why grains can impact your weight loss goals, aside from gluten. We are aware of the obvious benefits of swapping burger buns for whole grains or gluten-free options, but often grains, and wheat in particular, are overlooked as a hidden cause of resistant weight loss.
Let’s take a look at why grain consumption can be related to the dreaded weight loss plateau.
1) It’s a blood sugar bomb. The biggest influence on the body’s ability to burn fat is blood sugar levels. Contrary to common belief, there is minimal difference between whole wheat and white flour. When grains, even gluten-free, are ground into flour from whole kernels, they become dense, quick digesting carbohydrates, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar. A rise in blood sugar tells the body to release high amounts of insulin, a ‘fat storing’ hormone which shuttles sugar into cells and the liver – and the rest into your fat cells. The constant presence of high insulin causes our body to switch from fat burning to fat storing mode. The key is to keep blood sugar from rising too much, too often by consuming lower carbohydrate meals.
2) Wheat contains ‘super starch’. Today’s cross-hybridized wheat contains high levels of the carbohydrate Amylopectin A. Due its fast digestibility, Amylopectin A can raise blood sugar higher than a candy bar. In studies, this super starch has been shown to specifically increase belly fat and lead to insulin resistance.1
3) Inflammatory lectins. Inflammation is a well-known hurdle of fat loss, and wheat has been well documented to have multiple inflammatory properties, one of which is the presence of lectins. Lectins act as a plant’s defense against its natural enemies. The specific lectins found in wheat, wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), stimulate the synthesis of pro-inflammatory chemical messengers called cytokines.2 Due to decades of wheat hybridization, there is increased concentration of these WGA lectins with the highest concentration found in whole grains.
4) Endocrine disrupters. Endocrine disruptors (ED) are chemicals that can interfere with the hormonal system. Xenoestrogens are a type of ED that have estrogen-like effects such as weight gain and have even been shown to increase breast tissue growth in men. Glyphosate, a well-known xenoestrogen, is one of the most highly sprayed toxic additions in our food supply, particularly in wheat crops. An estimated 85% of nonorganic wheat crops are sprayed with glyphosate during harvest.
5) Addictive appetite stimulant. Gluteomorphins, named after “gluten” and “morphine,” are opioid-like peptides formed during digestion of wheat. When we consume wheat and your immune system is compromised, these polypeptides can be absorbed into the bloodstream and cross the blood brain barrier, creating a drug-like effect in our brain that not only affects neurologic concerns, but can also cause addictive eating behavior, such as intense cravings and bingeing. This is why going low carb is difficult, and why we have a hard time giving up our favorite bread.
As you can see, there is much more to blame than gluten in grains that could be playing a role in preventing you from losing those last ten pounds.