Wheat-Free Weight Loss

Why to Avoid Modern Wheat after Weight Loss SurgeryFiber is an important part of our diets, one that promotes both cardiovascular health and a well-functioning digestive system. It’s a nutrient that many Americans do not get enough of, but when they do, it’s usually from sources like whole wheat bread and pasta.

Unfortunately, the modern wheat these products are made from may not be as healthy as their high fiber content leads us to believe. Cases of gluten intolerance and celiac disease, both of which can cause digestive discomfort and allergic symptoms due to the wheat protein gluten, have been steadily on the rise in the past 50 years, and although the exact cause for the increase is unknown, scientists have proposed several possible links such as genetic changes to wheat plants and environmental toxins used as herbicides.

Following weight loss surgery you’ll be encouraged to follow a healthy diet, but that doesn’t always mean following a diet high in wheat products. Though whole wheat products are often touted for their protein and fiber content, many people suffer serious discomfort from them for years without realizing the culprit. Gluten has been linked to health problems from diabetes to irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease and cancer. According to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, there is evidence that the incidence of gluten intolerance and celiac disease increases after bariatric surgery.  This may be due to trauma and an exaggerated immune response or bypassing the area of the intestines normally associated with gluten digestion which occurs in some bariatric surgeries such as gastric bypass.

What Happened to Wheat?

Modern wheat does not grow in amber waves of grain. Within the last hundred years, the wheat plant has been cross-bred and irradiated in a way that has made it genetically and physically different than before. The average wheat plant now stands at half the size of its ancestors, just two feet tall. This shrinkage and its oversized, seedy head and stout stalk have earned it the unflattering nickname “dwarf wheat.”

Of course, these visual changes have also changed the composition of the wheat plant. Gluten’s structure has changed, which may explain the increased prevalence of celiac disease and gluten intolerance in our society. Modern wheat also contains polypeptides and a starch known as Amylopectin A. These have come under scrutiny for causing insulin resistance and cravings for wheat carbs, but more research is needed to confirm these risks.

What to Eat Instead of Wheat

Wheat may have changed, but that doesn’t change your body’s need for fiber. If you suspect that you have intolerance to wheat products after your weight loss surgery, remember that there are countless gluten-free whole grains that provide just as much fiber (or even more) than whole wheat:

  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Wild rice

There are many people who are able to tolerate gluten just fine, and this may include you. However, after weight loss surgery it is still recommended that you re-introduce foods slowly to avoid as much digestive discomfort as possible. If you find yourself struggling with some of the most common symptoms of gluten intolerance, talk to your weight loss surgeon about developing post-bariatric diet plan that is gluten free.


Fenster, C., & Case , S. (n.d.). Gluten free whole grains.