People are usually shocked when I tell them that whole wheat bread increases blood sugar to a higher level than sucrose. Aside from some extra fiber, eating two slices of whole wheat bread is really little different, and often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar.
This information is not new. A 1981 University of Toronto study launched the concept of glycemic index, i.e., the comparative blood sugar effects of carbohydrates: the higher the blood sugar after consuming a specific food compared to glucose, the higher the glycemic index (GI).
The original study showed that the GI of white bread was 69, while the GI of whole grain bread was 72, and Shredded Wheat cereal was 67, while that of sucrose (table sugar) was 59. Yes, the GI of whole grain bread is higher than that of sucrose. Incidentally, the GI of a Mars bar--nougat, chocolate, sugar, caramel, and all--is 68. That's better than whole grain bread. The GI of a Snickers bar is 41--far better than whole grain bread.
... Therefore, wheat products elevate blood sugar levels more than virtually any other carbohydrate, from beans to candy bars. This has important implications for body weight, since glucose is unavoidably accompanied by insulin, the hormone that allows entry of glucose into the cells of the body, converting glucose to fat.
The higher the blood glucose after consumption of food, the greater the insulin level, the more fat is deposited. That is why, say, eating a three-egg omelet that triggers no increase in glucose does not add to body fat, while two slices of whole wheat bread increases blood glucose to high levels, triggering insulin and growth of fat, particularly abdominal or deep visceral fat.
There's even more to wheat's curious glucose behavior. The amylopectin A-induced surge in glucose and insulin following wheat consumption is a 120-minute-long phenomenon that produces the "high" at the glucose peak, followed by the "low" of the inevitable glucose drop.
The surge and drop creates a two-hour roller coaster ride of satiety and hunger that repeats itself throughout the day. The glucose "low" is responsible for stomach growling at 9 AM, just two hours after a bowl of wheat cereal or an English muffin breakfast, followed by 11 AM prelunch cravings, as well as the mental fog, fatigue, and shakiness of the hypoglycemic glucose nadir.
Trigger high blood sugars repeatedly and/or over sustained periods, and more fat accumulation results. The consequences of glucose-insulin-fat deposition are especially visible in the abdomen--resulting in, yes, wheat belly.
The bigger your wheat belly, the poorer your response to insulin, since the deep visceral fat of the wheat belly is associated with poor responsiveness, or "resistance", to insulin, demanding higher and higher insulin levels, a situation that cultivates diabetes.
Moreover, the bigger the wheat belly in males, the more estrogen is produced by fat tissue, and the larger the breasts. The bigger your wheat belly, the more inflammatory responses that are triggered: heart disease and cancer.
As you can see, this got our attention. So we've been wheatless since Sunday, and Hubby's already lost 2 pounds.
You know that surge and drop of the blood sugar that he mentions? We've been struggling with that for months. We'd eat about 7, and about 9 or 10, we'd both be falling asleep on our feet. And we wouldn't even feel hungry, just sugar-crashed. Since we eliminated wheat, that awful crash is gone.
I still do crash a bit in the late afternoon, when I've been nursing the baby a lot, but it's always accompanied by hunger. Not the feeling of still being full and knowing I need to eat and not being able to. I've had to take fewer naps as a result. It's wonderful!