ATB BB Series 4: Guidelines for starting the diet

Now that you know what to eat and what not to eat, you must be feeling excited to start the diet. Some of you may be feeling nervous. After all we have been taught since childhood that grains are good & fat is bad. Some of you may panic, "There is nothing left to eat!"

According to the Wheat Belly diet: 

Modern wheat is an opiate. Wheat is truly addictive.

Wheat is addictive in the sense that it comes to dominate thoughts and behaviors. Wheat is addictive in the sense that, if you don’t have any for several hours, you start to get nervous, foggy, tremulous, and start desperately seeking out another “hit” of crackers, bagels, or bread, even if it’s the few stale 3-month old crackers at the bottom of the box. 

But the “high” of wheat is not like the high of heroine, morphine, or Oxycontin. This opiate, while it binds to the opiate receptors of the brain, doesn’t make us high. It makes us hungry.

This is the effect exerted by gliadin, the protein in wheat that was inadvertently altered by geneticists in the 1970s during efforts to increase yield. 

Wheat stimulates appetite. You can read more about the addictive effects of wheat here

What you are doing is replacing grains that offer no nutrition, with real food. It is scientifically proven, over & over, that the human body does not need carbohydrates for survival. It needs Protein & Fat to work. You will not develop any nutritional or fiber deficiencies on this diet.

Trust me it is worth it. That I have lost weight is an awesome side effect of this diet. Yes, it is a side - effect. The Wheat Belly diet itself has more powerful advantages of restoring your health back. You will no longer feel hungry every two hours, your skin & hair will flourish, you will feel more energetic, stronger. You will have way more stamina & endurance, you will be more alert. You will sleep better at night & feel well - rested in the morning. 

Before you jump into this way of eating & living, enthusiastically, there are some guidelines you must keep in mind. They will help ease your transition. 

  1. Don’t worry about fat, but choose healthy fats: olive oil, nut oils, avocado, ghee, and butter (yes!). Your body can and will use incoming fat as fuel.
  2. Never let yourself get hungry—keep snacks on hand and eat regular meals.
  3. Drink at least 2-3 liters of water a day. On my earlier carb based Indian diet, I would never feel thirsty, but on Wheat Belly diet, I naturally feel very thristy all day & easily accomplish this. When you burn body fat or dietary fat for fuel in the absence of an abundance of carbohydrate, some of the fat may be burned incompletely. These partially burned fat by-products are called ketones. These ketones are nothing more than the natural by-product of fat breakdown. Your body can and will burn them for energy, or, if there are too many to use, it will dispose of them in your breath or by passing them out in the stool or in the urine. And this is where water drinking becomes important: the more water you drink, the more urine you make, the more ketones will pass out in the urine, and the more fat you lose. So drink up!
  4. Take a high-quality vitamin & mineral supplement. I suggest one Supradyne + 1 Celin + 1 Evion daily. Your body, initially on this diet, will lose the water that you have retained . This can initially cause loss of potassium. 
  5. When you start the diet, you will get Atkins flu. I suffered for 4-5 days. The symptoms occur because the body craves the opium like hit of wheat, and the withdrwal symptoms are very much like that a smoking addict would suffer from. I had headaches, felt feverish, very cold, shaky & had trouble sleeping at night. At times I had joint pain. But all of this lasts only 3-4 days. It happens because the body takes time to stop production of carbohydrate digesting enzymes, and start digesting protein & fats. Don't give up at this point, it will go away in a week max. 
  6. You may get constipated in the first one - two weeks, this happens because your intestinal flora is adapting to the change in diet. Don't panic and just take a spoonful of flaxseed morning & night. It'll not last longer than a week. 
  7. There is no portion control in this diet. Eat as much as you want, when you want. But eat only when you are hungry. 
Below are some FAQs that I have got from the book Protein Power. This book is written by a MD husband & wife Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades who first tried the diet on themselves and have since then in joint practice healed thousands of patients of obesity in their 20 years of practice. This book is also easily available on Flipkart

Q. Won’t eating all this protein harm my kidneys?
A. No, not if your kidneys are normal to begin with. A number of researchers have studied this exact question and, in fact, an impeccable 1995 study from Germany demonstrated that kidney function actually improved with increased protein consumption.

Q. What should I do if I feel dizzy or light-headed?
A. If you feel like you’re going to pass out, or especially if you feel this sensation immediately upon standing up from a chair or bed, you probably need to increase your salt intake. This regime packs a potent diuretic force. As you progress on the program, your lowered insulin begins to allow your kidneys to release their retained fluid. You will notice how much more time you spend in the rest room as you rid yourself of this excess fluid. Unfortunately the kidneys also get rid of sodium and potassium along with this excess fluid, often leading to a sodium and/or potassium deficit and a little dehydration. The lowered sodium along with the dehydration causes the light-headedness. Increase your salt intake by adding regular table salt to your foods, eating a pickle, and you should find your problem solved in short order.

Q. I’ve just started the program, and I feel extremely fatigued. Why?
A. This is a common experience. All of life is catalyzed by enzymes. If it weren't for enzymes, we would just be piles of nonreactive chemicals instead of the living, breathing beings we are. Our DNA codes for millions of enzymes, but we make and have circulating at any given time only those we need. If you have been on a low-fat, high-complex-carbohydrate diet, you have all the enzymes circulating around that deal with storing, breaking down, and retrieving carbohydrates as needed for energy. When you drastically change your diet, all these enzymes are then running around with nothing to do because they’re so specific to their function that they can’t work on your new diet. It takes a few days for your body to produce the new enzymes to deal with the composition of your new diet. After a couple of days of a little tiredness, however, your energy levels should rise considerably, and you should actually end up with a lot more energy than you had before you started the diet.

Q. Why do I sometimes get a funny taste in my mouth on this diet?
A. Ketones released through the lungs can cause an a funny taste in the mouth. The best thing to do for this is to drink plenty of fluids. If you make a lot of urine, most of the ketones will escape that way. If not, about the only way out they have is through the breath. 

Q. Why have I had trouble sleeping since starting the diet?
A. Heavy ketosis can cause sleeplessness. It will go away in a few days as your body adjusts. 

Q. I don’t have any trouble getting to sleep, but I wake up in the middle of the night starving. I raid the refrigerator and eat whatever is at hand before I can get back to sleep. Will the diet do anything to stop these cravings?
A. Yes. This is not the typical description of a food craving but sounds more like an ulcer or gastritis problem—both of which are common to insulin-resistant people on high-carbohydrate diets. The body naturally releases a surge of stomach acid in the wee hours of the morning that doesn’t bother anyone with a normal stomach lining. But in people who have either ulcers or gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), this surge of acid often produces enough pain and discomfort to awaken them. They typically don’t have a sense of actual stomach pain but instead feel a kind of gnawing hunger that begs to be relieved. Consuming a large portion of food neutralizes this excess acid, they feel better, and they go back to sleep. On our program the reduction in carbohydrate intake begins immediately to allow most ulcers and gastritis to heal. Most of these problems are caused by an eicosanoid imbalance that is quickly normalized as soon as insulin levels fall. A few days after starting the program these episodes should begin to become much less frequent and finally go away. If you do awaken, however, make sure you eat according to your intervention plan, and don’t overeat carbohydrates or you will perpetuate the problem.

Q. What about my “sweet tooth”? Because of the carbohydrate restriction, this program doesn’t have any really sweet foods, so I can’t indulge my cravings for sweets.
A. Believe it or not, your craving for sweets will diminish with time. Just as insulin receptors become resistant to the stimulation of insulin over time, requiring much more insulin to make them work, your sweet receptors (taste buds) do the same. With chronic stimulation by a sweet, sugary diet your taste buds become resistant to the stimulation of sweets, requiring more and more to give you the pleasant sensation you desire. As you destimulate them by removing the refined carbohydrate from your diet, your sweet receptors will regain their sensitivity. At that point foods that you previously would have eaten by the plateful to get your sweet fix will provide the same sensation in much smaller amounts. In fact, if you try to eat the amounts you did before, you will pay the price in the way you feel later (This has actually happened to me. I now find sweets too sweet to eat. I am unable to eat them). A few such experiences and your sweet-consumption habits will have changed for good.

Some of you may be thinking of starting this diet. My suggestion is that you read up on the all information available online (do visit the wheatbellyblog it has a lot of information), as well as read the books mentioned below before starting. 

1. Wheat Belly
2. Why We get Fat & what to do about it - Gary Taubes

Optional Reading: 
1. Atkins Diet Book
2. Protein Power 

Questions? Please ask!


  1. Thnx sweety for such an informative n a detailed post :)

  2. Question : we have stages in atkins ,soth beach ,JUDDD etc.....does this ot have any stages ? I mean no carb levels to count and no calories to count either ?

    1. There are no stages to this diet or rather lifestyle. This is how you eat forever. Plus there is no counting anything.

  3. Like stages induction owl in atkins I meant,we start right away just like that !??

    1. There is no counting of carbs, proteins, fats or calories. Just eliminate the food mentioned in earlier post.

  4. Sabhi hai does sound better than atkins ...any day

  5. This is such an informative article.. Not very easy to follow.. But definitely seems worth trying..
    I would try reducing carbs slowly..

  6. Thanks a lot Tanz!! Even though I don;t eat too much and eat a balanced diet, I tend to get hungry in the night.
    These days I go for a light lunch ans a heavier dinner. it solved the issue a lot

  7. i still have lot of questions but ask you one by one ...
    first tell me some handy snacks ....
    for lunch or dinner one can have eggs or even chicken soup but what about tea and coffe in between ?
    can you share some quick snacks options :d
    lovelyyyyy post Tanz :D

    1. You can eat nuts. Just buy raw plain nuts and if u like roast in ghee before serving. You can eat bhel but made only of onions tomatoes chillies corriander, to this add either peanuts or boiled channa and butter. I also add mayo. You can also eat cheeses and paneer tht is grilled or else two piece of dark chocolates.

  8. Some of you may panic, "There is nothing left to eat!" I did! But your recipe above sounds great! I'll try reducing carbs slowly. It's pretty scary now, because I'm pretty sure I live on carbs right now! :/

  9. hi tanveer
    reading ur blog for the first time,,highly inspired..i am a pure vegetarian too...will go through the series chain and find out something for myself..:P.
    One thing, I am breastfeeding my baby. So, is it advisable for me to follow this?.


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