Is Bread Bad For Weight Loss


Are you concerned about bread being bad for weight loss? Don’t be, because it isn’t. It is true that carbohydrates can reduce your metabolism if you eat too much of them which can put you at a disadvantage when it comes to weight loss. But bread is different because it contains fiber which is a carbohydrate that won’t raise your blood sugar and insulin levels as quickly as other carbs. If you don’t want to consume refined carbohydrate found in sweets, white bread, and processed foods, then food sources of high-fiber carbohydrates are perfect for losing weight in a healthy manner.

Bread Makes You Fat

There’s evidence to show that it doesn’t, and none showing that it does.

Simple common sense should also be brought to bear on this issue:

  • Overweight and obesity have been on the rise only for the last 40 years or so
  • We’ve been eating bread for over 10,000 years

You’d think somebody would have noticed before now if bread was making us fat.

Here’s another couple of simple facts which show that bread can’t be responsible for fattening us up:

1) We Don’t Eat That Much Bread

According to the government’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey, median bread consumption per person is approximately 90 grams per day, higher for men (113g) than for women (76g). This means that bread accounts for around 10% of recommended daily calorie allowances for adults.

  • Women eat 76g which provides an average of 181 calories, 9% of the recommended 2000 daily calories
  • Men eat 113g which provides an average of 270 calories, just under 11% of the recommended 2500 daily calories

It’s pretty hard to conclude that bread is making us fat when it accounts for such a small proportion of our daily calories.

2) The Amount of Bread we Eat is Decreasing

According to Government statistics, purchases of bread are on a long term downward trend: down 20% between 2001 and 2012, and falling a further 5% between 2014 and 2017/18, periods during which the nation continued to get fatter.

If anything, we should be asking ourselves if diminishing quantities of bread in our diets is contributing to weight gain.

Are We Eating Enough?

Research published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism9 found that central obesity (excessive fat around the stomach and abdomen) was associated with a lower intake of any bread, and of whole-grain bread in particular.

Bread’s Full of Sugar

It’s not. Bread is officially a green light, low sugar food

You can see from the nutrition charts above that bread contains very little sugar. In fact it has a green light as a low sugar food in the traffic light labelling system since it has less than 5g of sugar per 100g.

The small amount of sugar that is in bread is naturally occurring, from sugars present in flour and produced through the action of yeast during the fermentation process.

Like our popular bread examples above, most everyday loaves have no added sugar. In the rare commercial bread recipes where sugar is added it is in very small amounts.

Glycaemic Index of Bread

Closely aligned to unfounded concerns about sugar content, the GI of bread also gets a bashing.

Foods are classed as high GI if they have have a glycaemic index of 70 or more.

White bread has a glycaemic index of 72, wholemeal 73.

However, bread is seldom eaten on its own, and therefore the glycaemic load is different when it is combined with other foods. Even just a spread of butter or margarine lowers the GI of a slice of bread.

Since greater than 50% of bread consumed in the UK is in sandwiches filled with foods containing protein and fat, and we’ll quite often eat beans or eggs with our toast, we’re unlikely to suffer from the fast release of glucose into the bloodstream associated with high GI foods.

Bread’s a Protein Deficient Wimp

It’s not, and anyway it wouldn’t matter if it was.

Protein deficiency is not a general problem in the UK.

According to the British Nutrition Foundation, protein intakes for UK adults is more than sufficient11 at an average of 64g a day for women and 88g a day for men.

(The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) is set at 0.75g of protein per kilogram bodyweight per day in adults. This averages approximately 56g a day for men and 45g a day for women.)

Bread provides about 10% of our daily protein consumption, which is in keeping with the 10% of recommended calories. Practically perfect.

The issue here may be why we seem to think that foods have to be high in protein to be healthy. There’s a lot more to eating healthily than protein, and too much can lead to health problems.

It also may be that protein is perceived as a food that’s good for weight loss, even though excess calories from protein can be stored as fat the same as excess calories from carbs and fat.

Bread’s Got Gluten

Bread made from wheat flour (most is) does contain gluten.

For all but a minority of people there’s nothing scary about gluten. It is a protein found in wheat which contributes to the satisfying texture of bread. (That’s why finding a good replacement is proving difficult.)

Recent attention to gluten has helped coeliacs and others who have serious problems digesting wheat, since they now have many more gluten free products to choose from on the supermarket shelves.

However, it has also caused a lot of confusion and worry that gluten is in some way bad for you. It isn’t, unless you’re in the 1-2% of people who have medical conditions affected by gluten.

This video produced by the ACS, and featuring some faces you may recognise from Bake Off, does a brilliant job of explaining what gluten is and what it does in just 3½ minutes.

Ways to include bread in your daily diet for weight loss

Bread is not bad for weight loss. You just need to be careful while selecting the right type of bread depending on its ingredients and pair it with the right foods to make it a healthy option in your weight loss journey.

Five ways to include bread in your daily diet for weight loss are as follows:

  1. Choose the bread with a high fiber content: While buying bread, select the ones that have a fiber content between three and five grams per serving. Fiber is a bulking agent that helps ease the passage of stools through your bowels. It maintains your blood sugar levels and assists the fat-burning process. Eating high-fiber foods makes you feel fuller for longer so you end up eating less during the later part of the day.
  2. Minimize your sugar intake: Unlike fruits, which contain natural sugars, bread contains added sugar, such as high-fructose syrup, sugar, sucrose, or corn syrup. Added sugars may relieve your hunger pangs quickly, but they cause sugar spikes. Sugar comes down quickly, and you end up craving carbohydrates again. Therefore, whenever you have sugar, make sure you balance your intake during the day.
  3. Choose whole-grain bread over white (refined) bread: When buying bread, look for words such as “100 percent whole-grain” or “100 percent whole-wheat” on the label, while making sure that whole wheat is listed as the first ingredient in the list. Refined bread lacks nutrients and fibers because it is devoid of germ and bran, which are present in the whole-grain variety of bread. A diet that contains whole grains contains good carbs and some amount of protein that is good for your weight loss.
  4. Look for other healthy ingredients in the bread: While buying bread, see if you can find bread that is made with nuts and seeds. These are a good source of proteins and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are heart-healthy ingredients that alleviate the inflammation associated with obesity. Bread made from nuts and seeds is more filling and satisfying than regular bread. They prevent spikes in blood sugar levels due to their low glycemic index.
  5. Pair your bread with the right foods: Pair your bread with foods that contain macronutrients such as protein or healthy fat to support your healthy weight-loss plan. To provide a filling effect, layer your sliced bread with any of the foods such as:
    • Chicken
    • Tuna
    • Eggs
    • Avocado
    • Almond butter
    • Peanut butter
    • Hummus
    • Olive oil
    • Coconut oil

Do not eat too many carbs when you are eating bread. For example, do not eat potatoes with bread. If you want to eat other carbs, have them during other meals that do not contain bread as one of the foods.

Can you still eat bread when following a weight loss plan?

zucchini bread
Zucchini Bread from the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge

The basics

In basic terms, anyone will lose weight if they are taking in less energy through their food than they are spending every day.

Foods which are very low in calories include fruit and vegetables, and foods which are higher in calories include the carbs like bread, pasta and potatoes. The key to losing weight and sticking to a diet is eating a wide range of foods from all of the different food groups. People trying to shift a few kilos don’t need to cut out bread completely, but it is important to understand that some breads are more appropriate for weight loss than others.

Glycaemic Index (GI)

GI is much talked about in diet and weight loss and is a measurement of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels. Foods with a low GI index will keep you feeling fuller for longer, whereas foods which are starchy or high in sugar will rapidly raise blood sugar and make you feel hungry again more quickly.

Not all breads score equally on the GI scale, so as well as looking at the calorie content of the bread, the blood sugar issue should be examined as well.

White bread

Slice of bread

White bread is the most popular sort of bread found in our supermarkets and bakeries. Although it’s widely available, it’s not the best choice for someone trying to lose weight. White bread is made from flour which is highly refined and processed, and the end product does not score well on the GI scale.

It is also relatively low in fibre and nutrients, and will raise blood sugar levels quite rapidly when eaten. Therefore, it is not the best choice for people trying to lose a few kilos.

Wholemeal bread

Sliced Bread on White Background

Unlike white bread, wholemeal bread is made from a more unrefined flour. It is higher in fibre and has more vitamins and minerals in it than white bread. There is evidence that switching to wholemeal bread from white bread can help reduce the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer such as bowel cancer and strokes.

Wholemeal bread is also much lower on the GI index than white bread, meaning eating wholemeal will leave you feeling fuller for longer and less likely to raid the cake tin half way through the morning. For people who don’t like the taste of wholemeal bread, some of the white breads on the market with added fibre can be a good alternative.

Wholegrain bread

toasted spicy chicken sandwich

Wholegrain loaves are even less refined than wholemeal, and therefore even higher in fibre and lower on the GI index. Wholegrain bread also tends to be lower in calories than white or wholemeal bread, but packaging should be checked for full nutritional information. Wholegrain is the healthy choice even for those not trying to lose some weight.

Turkish bread

A gourmet ham sandwich on turkish bread at a modern delicatessen.

Turkish bread products are also made from refined flour and are although they do not differ hugely in terms of calories from other white breads, they not as good as the wholegrain breads at keeping you feeling fuller. Some of the flat Turkish breads are often served with calorific fillings and sauces, which obviously hinders weight loss.

Flat breads

flat breads

Flat breads come in many different varieties and the same rules apply when choosing which bread is most appropriate for those trying to lose weight. Wholemeal or wholegrain breads are a far better choice than white flat breads or those made with other refined flour products.

Sourdough bread

Can I Eat Bread When Losing Weight?

Recent studies have shown that sourdough breads are among the best sorts of breads for people who are trying to lose weight. They out performed even the wholemeal and wholegrain breads, and subjects in the tests felt fuller and ate less than people eating other types of bread. This is thought to be down to the action of the yeast and the fact the dough is fermented over several days.

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