Did you know you could still eat bread and still lose weight? The truth is bad carbs do make you fat. But there are some good carbs and bread out there in the world that will help you lose more weight.
Refined and white flour-based carbohydrates are definitely your enemy. They cause belly fat gain, heart disease, type II diabetes, and weight gain (1).
There are only a few breads you can eat in moderation and still lose weight. You should proactively be avoiding all the rest if weight loss is your goal.
But you don’t have to give up eating bread forever. There are a few bread brands with quality nutrients that’ll help you lose weight and can actually be good for you.
It can be ridiculously hard to completely give up the cravings for eating bread. Comfort eating gradually takes a toll on you and soon you’ll give in to the bread temptation.
Most diets tell you to avoid eating bread at all costs, and the truth is they’re not totally wrong. Yet if you’re craving for it then here you’ll discover you can eat bread and still lose weight as long as you’re eating the right types of bread.
Why Most Bread Won’t Help You Lose Weight
We can all agree and that the more bread you eat the more you want more of it. There’s a big reason why eating most bread ends up making you gain more unwanted weight.
Humans have been eating wheat for 10,000 years so why all of the sudden are people getting fat from eating it? Humans didn’t have the technology to crush open kernels of wheat for the first 10,000 years.
The bread was not made with flour but with partially germinated seeds for the vast majority of human history (2). Nowadays modern wheat has become so pasteurized and pulverize it has become difficult for the human body to properly digest (3).
Food manufacturers today use faster-acting cultures that are easier to work with so they can better streamline the breadmaking process. Many of the people I’ve trained and given nutrition counseling to over the years feel way better after they’ve cut wheat from their diet.
If you can go without eating bread then it’ll be best to keep it out of your diet for good.
Finding the Best Breads for Losing Weight
There’s no doubt you’re going to want to stay away from white bread and refined grains at all costs. Eating more refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta is heavily linked to heart disease and all risk mortality (8).
Be sure to read the ingredients label too as many of these food manufacturers use marketing tricks on you. If the label for the bread says it includes sugar, sucrose, fructose, or high fructose corn syrup then that means it’s no good!
The label on the brown bread can say wheat flour even though they use white flour on it. They’re allowed to do this because white flour originally came from a wheat field. Then they just add brown coloring to make it look healthy. Always be sure to check the first ingredient on the label.
Bread isn’t thought to be a sweet food but if you check the label some of these breads even contain high fructose corn syrup. Even some seemingly healthier options like bread from whole wheat flour can contain high fructose corn syrup (9).
If you’re going to go the whole wheat bread route then make sure the label says 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain. Try to look for a 100% whole wheat bread higher in fiber, lower in sugar, and contains no hydrogenated oils. But to be honest whole wheat and whole grain bread isn’t a great option for weight loss.
If you can try to go organic with the bread you’re going to be using to lose weight. I don’t believe you have to go 100% organic with every food you eat. But it’s a good idea when picking a bread since most have pesticide residues (10).
The role of pesticides and chemicals in our foods isn’t fully understood yet. It’s best to play it safe and go organic with the food you’re putting into your body.
Generally, fermented bread is going to be better for your health and for weight loss (11). Just like sourdough bread, these fermented breads are allowed to ferment for a few days or even up to a few weeks.
This fermentation process will provide a lot of healthy bacteria to balance your digestive system and metabolism. This study found refined grains promoted weight gain, type II diabetes, and heart disease (12). The researchers also discovered whole grains help to lower inflammation while refined grains raised it.
Whole Grain Bread Isn’t Good for Weight Loss
Most people think eating whole grain breads are good for them but it’s really not once you start breaking it down. Now eating whole grain bread is going to be a lot better than eating refined white bread but it’s still far from the best option.
Your digestive system breaks down the whole grain bread into sugar. This spikes up y your blood sugar and causes an insulin release. This is one of the root causes of not only weight gain but Type 2 diabetes (13).
Eating two slices of whole grain bread sounds like a smart idea to help lose weight. But even though it contains fiber your body still breaks down these whole grains into sugar and it enters your bloodstream the same as a Hershey’s chocolate bar.
This makes it a lot harder to lose weight if you’re body is constantly releasing excess insulin. It’ll be difficult for your body to tap into your fat stores for fuel if you’re already feeding it with sugars from whole grains.
And if you’re eating too many whole grains your body will constantly feel hungry (14). A rise in blood sugar won’t make you feel fuller but instead, it’ll force you to crave sweet and starchy foods to bring your sinking blood sugar levels back up.
Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
Ezekiel bread from sprouted whole grains is without a doubt one of the best options for bread if you’re trying to lose weight. It contains millet, spelt, and cholesterol-lowering barley which are all significantly better for you than enriched white flour.
Sprouted whole grain breads are better, or at least your best bet when it comes to choosing a bread that will help you burn belly fat (15).
Sprouting is better because enzymes are released causing the protein and carbohydrates to be broken down. This makes them much easier for your body to digest and absorb nutrients.
Sprouted whole grain breads are much lower on the glycemic index than other breads. This helps to keep your blood sugar low. One of the biggest causes of weight gain is elevated blood sugar levels, which cause your body to store more fat. A high fiber, low glycemic diet will help you lose weight (16). Chronically elevated blood sugar levels will also lead to insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and even cognitive decline (17).
Ezekiel breads are from sprouted seeds (or berries) making them flourless and sugar-free. Yet, you should know it still contains gluten. So it’s not going to be an option if you’re eating gluten-free.
Gluten is the protein in the wheat that makes the bread gluey. Without gluten, these Ezekiel bread would literally crumble apart since they’re from real sprouted grains. Ezekiel bread is not ideal if you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant. But it is better tolerated than many other breads.
The seeds when sprouting to make Ezekiel bread are naturally going to hang on to the stored nutrients in them such as proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. They’re also lower in phytic acid (18). Phytic acid prevents some vitamin and mineral absorption. so you should be able to better absorb some vitamins and minerals than eating other types of bread (19).
Ezekiel bread contains 3 grams of fiber per slice and 0 grams of sugar per slice. This is a lot better than the vast majority of breads you’ll find in the grocery store.
You’ll find Ezekiel bread most likely in the frozen section of your local health food stores. Unfortunately, a lot of bigger grocery stores don’t carry Ezekiel bread but health food stores like Whole Foods usually always carry them. The other breads you’ll find on the store shelves have been bleached to hell and pumped with preservatives to extend their shelf life.
It might be a little surprising to hear that eating sourdough bread can actually help you lose weight.
Sourdough bread generally has more nutrients than regular bread. Sourdough bread naturally lasts longer too.
Sourdough bread goes through a fermentation process which helps to drastically reduce the phytic acid content by 24-50% (20). Phytic acid found in most breads prevents mineral absorption leading to nutrient deficiencies in your body.
Sourdough bread contains ingredients that have also been found to improve your gut health. If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or are gluten intolerant then you should have an easier time digesting it (21). For more gut healing foods take a look at my top 10 food choices.
Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that sourdough bread is absolutely delicious?
There is nothing quite like eating a fresh slice of sourdough bread to satisfy any and all cravings for bread you’re having. And the best part is eating it in moderation could even help with weight loss.
Eating more sourdough bread can also help regulate your blood sugar levels. (22) But most breads on grocery store shelves cause your blood sugar to spike. Then your body will release cortisol and insulin in response putting your body into a “fat-storing mode.” This is a recipe for weight gain and craving more and more of these bad carbohydrates.
Acetic and lactic acid while under the heat of baking sourdough bread cause interactions that will reduce the glycemic response in your body. This results in a more gradual release of blood sugar in your body helping you to lose more weight while on your diet.
Sourdough bread only contains 1-2 grams of sugar per slice. It also contains 1 gram of fiber per slice which is almost twice that of white bread.
Sourdough bread also contains a healthy variety of vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium, and more.
You can find more on why sourdough bread is good for you here.
Rye is another surprising entry to make the shortlist for the healthiest breads for weight loss (23).
Rye is low in calories yet provides your body with healthier complex carbohydrates and fiber. Rye bread is dense and fiber-rich making it much harder for you to overindulge on it.
Rye bread contains four times the dietary fiber and 20% fewer calories than you’ll find in the average white bread. You still have to be aware of how many calories you’re putting into your body.
The more ways you can lower the number of unnecessary calories in the foods you’re eating the better off you’re going to be with weight loss.
The natural sugars in rye bread are absorbed much slower in your body than other grains. This helps to prevent bloating while helping to maintain stable blood glucose levels in your body.
This study found in Nutrition Journal found rye bread helped to decrease the feelings of hunger before and after lunch when included in breakfast (24). The researchers also interestingly found that rye bran had the strongest effect on increasing the feeling of being full.
This Finnish study found rye digests in a more complete form and reduces constipation (25). It does this by promoting more regularity in your bowel movements.
What bread is better for weight loss?
My personal favorite bread for weight loss is sourdough bread or Ezekiel bread. Now keep in mind bread contains a higher amount of carbohydrates which should be limited if you’re trying to lose weight. But if you must have bread then I recommend the ones listed here.
The Last Word
The truth is there really isn’t much space on a weight loss diet for bread. But if you constantly craving it then there are a few healthier choices. This way you can eat bread and still lose weight but the trick is finding the right types of bread.
The vast majority of bread you’ll find on the store shelves today is so bad for you they’re right at the top of my worst food choices.
The best bread choices for weight loss are organic, are fermented, and haven’t been through a heavy manufacturing process.
Most people do better when they cut the wheat out of their diet for good. I recommend trying to cut grains out of your diet for at least a couple of weeks to see if you feel better without them.
You’ll probably find you also lose weight after cutting the grains and bread out of your diet.
If you can’t let bread go from your life forever then consider using the above few options as the healthiest choices for weight loss.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.