Keith Akers's Reviews > Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

Wheat Belly by William  Davis
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Jun 15, 12

Read in March, 2012

Oh God, do I have to read this? No. I refuse. I don't have time. I'm not angling to be the one to pick through the errors, and write the "definitive refutation." So this isn't a "refutation" of the book or even an indication that wheat may not, after all, contribute to the obesity problem.

Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are real, and they may be more widespread than people realize. I know some vegans who are gluten intolerant and there's even a blog, http://getoffgluten.blogspot.com/ which deals with vegans looking for alternatives to wheat. So I am not saying, "eat all the wheat you want!" by any means. But I have enough information to say that this is not a useful book, and here's why.

In the first chapter he says "vegetarians are fat." He also refers to a national trend to reduce fat and cholesterol and increase carbs. There is indeed a tendency to take in more carbs in the U. S., but this is highly misleading -- it's a trend towards greater consumption of junk food. The amount of fat, cholesterol, and "complex carbs" is actually pretty much the same. Secondly, it is just false that vegetarians are fat. I am a vegetarian (vegan in fact), am not gluten intolerant, and eat wheat every day. I am not fat, slightly underweight actually, and none of my veggie friends are fat. You cannot go to a vegetarian conference or event and fail to notice that vegans and vegetarians are generally not obese or overweight. This has also been documented in studies, also, but it's easier just to invite people to visit your friendly local vegetarian potluck or meetup and count the fat people.

He also criticizes "The China Study" based on some inane correlations published on the internet. He cites Denise Minger, but it's clear that the author doesn't understand the most basic ideas of statistics. One might be able to show a decisive correlation between colon cancer and TV viewing, but that doesn't establish causation; he's pulled out some superficial correlations and considers that a refutation of "The China Study." He also recommends using oils generously, including coconut oil (saturated fat city). He also recommends eating meat, eggs, and cheese "in unlimited quantities." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition editorialized a few years ago than more than one egg per day could increase all-cause mortality by 40%.

At this point, it becomes apparent that he is really yet another Weston Price Foundation promoter. I suspect that this may be an attempt to revive the Atkins (high-protein, low carbs) diet, so that even after driving a stake through its heart, zombie-like, it rises from the grave to wreak havoc on the unwitting.

Even though there's probably a lot of good stuff in here on problems with wheat, you'll have to be an expert already to sort out the good from the bad. Given the fact that I can just open the book up, read the introduction and first chapter, look at the index, and immediately find a bunch of problems, I don't think that I could read the rest of it with any assurance that the author has a clue. So even though there may be a lot of good material in here, reading this book won't enlighten you. You'll still have to figure out this stuff somewhere else, then come back to the book, and sort through his argument.

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Grace Please don't review books unless you read them. Also, I know plenty of vegetarians who are fat and plenty of meat eaters that are too. That is totally besides the point and not one of the authors main arguments. It's odd that you would accuse him of using anecdotal evidence and then do the same exact thing in trying to dispute his theory.


message 20: by Keith (last edited Jun 15, 2012 07:04PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Keith Akers I found about a zillion problems in the 20 - 30 pages that I read. I don't see why I, or anyone else, should be forced to read this scientifically illiterate book in order to post some comments on what they found on Goodreads.

Also, it isn't true that I accuse the author of using anecdotal evidence (I do not). The problem is that the author doesn't understand basic science.


message 19: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Lee I think you make some valid points Keith. I haven't yet finished the book and only started taking out wheat due to allergies. I'm also allergic to dairy and eggs. thank goodness none of it anaphalactic. he does use some odd evidence but the book would be too long and complex if he did prove it all. his focus is to get people to think twice about wheat. that he does well so far. when reading books like these it's important to have experience in real life and a bit of common sense as you hinted. Yes not all vegetarians are fat. I know some that are and some that aren't. eating lots of meat may not be good due to high cholesterol. people have to speak to a professional before embarking on any serious diet change. do additional research to find out what works for them. I think in books like these they need to put such a warning in the introduction.


message 18: by Keith (new) - rated it 1 star

Keith Akers Wheat Belly is completely illiterate. Recommending a high-meat diet, and his scientifically clueless comments about The China Study, just makes my head spin. If you read enough, you'll find some statements that are right, but you'll need to be an expert to sort out the good from the controversial and the totally stupid.

If you think you should avoid wheat, then don't do gluten; see a doctor or consult the "Get Off Gluten" blog mentioned in my review. But don't rely on "Wheat Belly."

Eating meat has been shown to be related to 14 out of the 15 leading causes of death; vegetarians and vegans consistently suffer less from obesity than meat-eaters. Check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30gEiw...
(Start at about 28:55 to see 5-minute discussion of obesity)


message 17: by Keith (last edited Oct 16, 2012 08:20PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Keith Akers By the way (this is not directed at you, Ray, but at others who have responded in rather rude fashion), please do not respond to my review by saying that I've haven't read the book, or accuse me of being a troll, or get into a tirade about Paleo diets. This is Goodreads, not the New York Times Review of Books. I read about 30 pages, I found about a zillion problems, I gave up and wrote a few words on why. Lighten up, guys!


message 16: by Alex (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alex I appreciate this review; it's a sort of "think twice" about a book that encourages you to "think twice." Keith, I'm curious where your schema comes from, and what other sources you know about that can help us gain a better understanding of this wheat madness!


message 15: by Keith (new) - rated it 1 star

Keith Akers Alex, there's nothing specifically on this author (William Davis), but an excellent source on the whole low-carb and Paleo madness is http://www.plantpositive.com. On wheat in general, as I mentioned in my review, I suggest http://getoffgluten.blogspot.com/ which is critical of wheat.


Laura Leaney This is a very interesting discussion. Thanks for posting your review. I intend to read Davis's book (it was featured in the Los Angeles Times) for its commentary on joint health and inflammation, but I'll keep a skeptical frame of mind, although numbers and scientific studies are not my forte. I like the plant positive site you reference; I think I'll pass it on.


message 13: by Irene (new) - rated it 1 star

Irene Gustavsson Keith, I was about to write a review of my own, but ended up with a "like" for yours. I totally agree with you. This is pseudoscience at best.


message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Great review! Thank you for your honest opinion.


Leslie Thanks for the review as well as the website. I've already found recipes I want to try. I have to agree with you about the author. He seems to contradict himself on more than one occasion. He encourages the consumption of meat and then talks about how acidic it is. The book reads like another fad diet, not at all what I was expecting.


message 10: by Tanya (new)

Tanya Thank you for your comments. As I read this book, I had a recurring thought... I need to do some homework on many of the unreferenced assertions he made! I'm glad I'm not alone in my skepticism of this writing.


Maria When I read your review, I thought you were being too hard on the book. Then I read the book and realized that I should have stopped at page 30 or so too.

Does anyone know if in the Paleo diet people are eating game proteins only? After all, domesticated forms of cattle weren't around in the Paleolithic period to the best of my knowledge.

Another discussion for another day. I'm not wheat intolerant and the science of this book was poorly explained at best. Really, what is the correlation between the domestication of wheat and the "rise of sexism" and how does anyone know that there wasn't sexism during the Paleolithic period?


Nancy I would appreciate seeing some of your refutations of the pseudo-science. Because I found it interesting, I did read the book, admittedly doing some skimming, but don't have enough medical knowledge to be able to judge the information. I do know that I feel better excluding wheat products from my diet. The book has me apprehensive about every eating wheat again. If you have information to share that would help this dilemma, I sure would appreciate reading it.


Keith Akers Nancy wrote: "I would appreciate seeing some of your refutations of the pseudo-science. Because I found it interesting, I did read the book, admittedly doing some skimming, but don't have enough medical knowled..."
I've already indicated a bunch. To repeat:
1. Comments about the China Study. See response by Colin Campbell (link in review).
2. Comments that vegetarians are fat. False. Vegetarians and vegans consistently less fat. See refutation in my comment of 9/23/2012.
3. Comments that you can eat all the cholesterol and saturated fat you want. This should get him disbarred from medical practice just in itself. You could see my comment of 2/11/2013, reference to PlantPositive.com, which is likely the quickest cure for your intellectual problem.

Bottom line, avoiding wheat is a good thing for a lot of people. But you don't need to read this book to get that message. When he starts attacking carbs in general, and saying crazy things about cholesterol, vegetarians, and the China study, he just loses it. He just doesn't know what he's talking about, and it doesn't take a lot of reading to see that.


Nancy Thank you! I appreciate the information.


Nancy I have known overweight vegetarians and I have known an overweight vegetarian who had celiac disease. I have found the book very helpful - I suspect I have a gluten sensitivity that was undiagnosed. Lisa, I agree with your response. The book was a new paradigm for me and when I saw Keith's response, I assumed there was a knowledge and understanding that I did not have. I appreciate Keith sharing his information and he makes a valid point,maybe not purposefully, that it is important to keep an open mind to new information as it presents itself.


message 4: by Keith (last edited Mar 31, 2013 11:41AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Keith Akers Two people have posted reviews with something new to say about Wheat Belly.

(1) Dr. John McDougall. See this link:
http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2013n...

McDougall acknowledges celiac disease and wheat allergies, but slams Davis for "misquoting the research and ignoring the bulk of the scientific evidence," and shows that Davis is promoting low-carb propaganda (Paleo, Atkins, etc.).

(2) Kelli and Pete Bronski's gluten-free website (!) examines specific factual errors in the book:
http://noglutennoproblem.blogspot.com...

Quote: "Sadly, Wheat Belly looks polished from a distance, but upon closer inspection it goes belly up."

People who need to do gluten free can do a lot better than Wheat Belly.


message 3: by Ron (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ron You are certainly entitled to your opinions, and after reading the first couple chapters of "Wheat Belly"I tend to agree with you about this book. But that said, before you condemn high fat diets you really should read the highly researched and meticulously well written "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes. Maybe you wouldn't agree with his conclusions either, but you would have a very difficult time refuting his logic. "Good Calories, Bad Calories" (unlike Wheat Belly) is not bringing the Atkins zombie back to life, it is just very serious and convincing scientific evidence, which simply stated is that it is not the fat in the diet that is causing the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc., the real culprits are sugar and most other insulin raising foods like wheat and other grains.


message 2: by Keith (last edited Jun 02, 2013 11:18AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Keith Akers This is really off topic, but I'll reply anyway. "Good Calories, Bad Calories" is a masterwork of deception and lying. His views have been refuted in detail: see http://www.plantpositive.com/ for this information. What is worse, it is clear that he wants to confuse the issue, not illuminate it, and has deliberately introduced numerous falsehoods into his book. He either doesn't understand basic science, or he understands it and is lying about it (probably the latter, in my opinion). There are several scientific researchers who are furious at him for misquoting them.

All of this has been discussed higher in the thread. I would ask everyone not to make further comments unless you really, REALLY have something new to say, and have (a) read my review, (b) read all the upstream comments, and (c) reviewed PlantPositive.com in detail.


message 1: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen I have read every comment. So, I'm allowed to say this. You are my new hero. Thank you so much for your in depth and intelligent review! You have been more than patient answering all of the questions posed here!


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