Is sourdough bread good for you? By now we’ve heard how bad bread is for us, but there’s evidence sourdough bread could actually help you lose weight.
I’ll be the first to admit eating sourdough bread is delicious with its tangy flavor and satisfying texture.
It’s practically everywhere these days from your local coffee shops to your local deli to your favorite breakfast spot.
I have a feeling even the ducks prefer eating sourdough bread.
Eating sourdough bread has a long history originating in ancient Egypt in 1,500 B.C. as the oldest form of leavened bread.
It’s incredibly popular here where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Even Disneyland has a Boudin Bakery making fresh sourdough bread inside the park.
If you’ve been following this nutrition blog you’ll know I generally recommend keeping your carbohydrate intake low to enhance weight loss.
In general, bread isn’t on the recommended list of carbohydrates to be eating on a weight loss diet. Bread is just a food that doesn’t have a place on the Approved Flat Belly Foods list.
Or maybe it should…
White bread clearly isn’t going to do your body any good.
There is definitive evidence white bread contributes to weight gain and diabetes, but eating sourdough bread may go against the grain and actually be good for you (1).
Is Sourdough Bread Good For Weight Loss?
I’m sure there isn’t a person on Earth who doesn’t want a healthier and stronger body, but at the end of the day you also really want to look your best.
The health benefits of sourdough bread extend beyond weight loss. Most people trying to lose weight even stay away from whole wheat bread because of the carbs.
Proper nutrition is going to make up the bulk of your results to lose weight and enhance your appearance. Weight training and HIIT cardio is going to help out but without the right nutrition you’ll be digging a hole that’s hard to get out of.
This meta-analysis by the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found eating sourdough breads improved glucose homeostasis (critical for weight loss) while white, whole wheat bread, whole grain and other types of bread didn’t (2).
This is very important because it’s direct evidence backed by science proving sourdough bread can help you lose weight.
Let’s dig deeper why sourdough bread is good for you.
Why Sourdough Bread Better For You Than Whole Wheat Bread
Sourdough bread is fermented from yeast and bacteria in flour. All you really need are three ingredients to make sourdough bread; wild yeast, bacteria and whole grain flour.
Fermentation happens next as it undergoes a biological process where microorganisms convert sugars into cellular energy and a metabolic byproduct, lactic acid bacteria is produced.
Sourdough received its name during the Gold Rush days in California. Gold Miners would receive the “sourdough starter” for making bread in San Francisco before heading out to prospect for their fortunes. The sourdough starter from the San Francisco area had a unique tangy and sour flavor earning it the nickname “sourdough.”
Be careful though as not every sourdough bread you find on supermarket shelves is legit. Proper sourdough takes 24 hours just for the fermentation part and more days thereafter to fully rise into the bread we love. The only three ingredients that should be in real sourdough are wild yeast, flour and water.
Unfortunately, way too many “sourdough” breads in the grocery stores are nothing more than just a normal yeasted bread with liquid or powder “sourdough” added. This is what they call “sour-faux.”
Many of these store bought sourdough breads don’t use the traditional 1,000 year old method and as a consequence loses some of its benefits. Most bread manufacturers just won’t take the time it takes to properly make traditional sourdough bread.
Nutrients In Sourdough Bread
Sourdough bread more than other breads is packed with naturally occurring nutrients including:
- vitamins B1-B6
- vitamin B12
- vitamin E
Even though some of these nutrients are small amounts they still end up adding to your overall health and well-being. The naturally occurring health benefits of sourdough bread really begin with its fermentation process.
You’re going to be winning when you compare this to most commercial breads that practically have zero nutritional value.
You should know that most leavened breads use a commercial baker’s yeast to help the dough rise.
Sourdough uses wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria to leaven the bread naturally.
Unfortunately, other breads contain phytic acid which is bad for you because it prevents the absorption of important minerals (3).
So phytic acid makes all those bountiful minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, etc. useless in foods since your body will be unable to absorb it.
This is a big contributor to mineral deficiencies, and the latest research is finding lack of these micronutrients contributes to serious chronic health disease such as cancer (4).
This study found sourdough fermentation reduced the phytic acid content 24-50% more than conventional yeast fermentation (5).
This is a big reason why sourdough bread is good for you over virtually all other kinds of breads.
It’s not only loaded with vitamins and minerals, but the low phytic acid content lets you actually absorb them into your body.
Is Sourdough Bread Good For Your Gut Health?
Your gut is often called your second brain and it makes up the bulk of your immune system.
If you don’t have a healthy gut then you can not only expect digestive issues, but it could be contributing to other chronic health problems such as inflammation, disease and lethargy.
Fortunately, sourdough bread is good for you because it contains the bacteria Lactobacillus in higher proportion to yeast than other breads.
Lactobacillus also means there’s going to be higher production of lactic acid bacteria, therefore less phytic acid in sourdough bread.
This 2001 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found sourdough fermentation more efficient in reducing phytic content in bread (6).
It’s true the baking process kills off the healthy beneficial bacteria, but even dead bacteria have anti-inflammatory health benefits (7).
I agree it’s better or your body to get the live Lactobacillus beneficial bacteria, but getting some of the health benefits is better than not getting any like you would with other breads.
Lactic acid is good for you too as it increases the digestibility of foods promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
This in turn will give your whole immune system a boost so you can live healthier with less diseases slowing you down.
Lactic acid also increases the micronutrient profile of foods.
It produces antioxidants, cancer-preventative peptide lunation and can even help with its anti-allergenic substances.
Gluten Free Sourdough Bread
If your body is sensitive to gluten then you may want to take a look into sourdough bread as it could be good for you.
Most people who have a gluten intolerance aren’t able to eat any kind of bread at all (unless it’s 100% gluten free) but sourdough bread it could be a viable option.
The prep for sourdough bread is more lengthy, and as a beneficial result the gluten is broken down into amino acids.
When the gluten is broken down it essentially makes it way easier for you to digest than conventional breads. It’s not quite gluten free but it’ll be a better choice than other breads for your food sensitivity.
Lactic acid in sourdough enhances acidification that can lead to increasing the availability of magnesium and phosphorous.
This 2011 Italian study gave those with celiac-disease some specially prepared sourdough bread and they reacted well to it (8).
The sourdough bread in this study had been fermented until the gluten was completely gone. Making it theoretically gluten free.
Keep in mind this wasn’t the “sour-faux” bread you’ll usually find in the supermarket. This was specially made sourdough bread using traditional methods.
Sourdough Bread and Blood Sugar
Going through sugar withdrawals can be hard enough, but I’ve found with a lot of people going cold turkey on bread can be rough too.
White bread is at the top of the Glycemic Index (GI) with a score of 100, and it will unquestionable spike anybody’s blood sugar through the roof.
These blood sugar spikes can lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes as they cause your body to release insulin in an attempt to stabilize your blood sugar.
When done too much your pancreas will gradually start to release more and more insulin just to try and regulate your elevated blood sugar levels.
Next thing you know you’ll gain way too much weight, have type 2 diabetes and be suffering through the dreaded blood sugar roller coaster.
Sourdough bread is good for you since the acetic and lactic acid under the heat of baking cause interactions reducing the glycemic response in your body.
Sourdough bread takes your body longer to digest, which in turn also helps to slow your blood sugar from going too high.
This study found rye flour added to sourdough can help regulate blood sugar levels (9). So it’s not just the fiber in sourdough bread that helps you out. There’s something else.
Researchers have also theorized the fermentation process restructures the carbohydrates molecules (10).
The lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough produced organic acids during fermentation.
These acids could very be what delays your stomach from emptying the sourdough bread (11).
This results in your body having a smaller and more gradual release in blood sugar than that of other breads especially white bread.
Sourdough Bread Naturally Lasts Longer
Sourdough bread is not only delicious and good for you, but it also lasts a lot longer than other types of bread.
There’s nothing worst than getting excited to eat a piece of bread only to find little green furry mold pieces spotted all over it.
Another one of the health benefits of sourdough bread is the longer shelf life it has as the fermentation process kills off bad bacteria preventing mold growth.
This longer fermentation process is less likely to lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (12).
Even though sourdough bread is lower in preservatives than most conventional types of bread it still has a longer shelf life than them too.
Sourdough bread will also hold moisture better than other breads because there’s nothing worse than taking a bite of dry hard bread. Yuck.
You don’t need those toxic preservatives that most other types of bread have when the fermentation process produces acetic acid inhibiting the growth of mold.
How to Make Healthy Sourdough Bread
The good thing about sourdough bread, other than it being good for you, is it’s pretty easy to make at home.
Yeah to make sourdough bread it’s not as easy as popping it into an Easy-Bake Oven but it’s more than doable to make yourself.
First, you’re going to need a sourdough starter also known as the mother.
The sourdough starter is a mixture of live yeast, lactic acid producing bacteria, flour and water.
Bacteria and the wild yeast settle the sourdough starter as it begins to ferment.
I’d recommend watching this tutorial on making the sourdough starter yourself if you’re really interested:
Then you’ll mix together the flour, water, commercial yeast and salt letting it rise before baking.
During this rising period the yeast will eat up some of the carbs in the flour as it digests them via fermentation.
The end products are alcohol and carbon dioxide, which add flavor and volume to the dough.
I’d also recommend the book ‘Flour Water Salt Yeast’ by Ken Forkish for anybody serious about getting their sourdough bread baking on.
So is sourdough bread good for you?
Yes! It has a better blood glucose response, low in gluten, higher in nutrients, it’s good for your gut and it has a long shelf life.
If you’re try to lose those last 10-15 pounds of belly fat then maybe eating any kind of bread, including sourdough should be minimized.
Carbohydrates should only be eaten strategically if you want to lose those last stubborn pounds of stomach fat.
Follow a proven belly fat burning nutrition system like my Flat Belly Formula that will show you how to use these carbs to your fat burning advantage.
In small amounts, sourdough bread can be very good for you but just make sure you don’t go overboard or end up gaining some weight and loafing around.
The Last Word
Sourdough bread is a fantastic alternative to conventional bread that will keep your pants from stretching and your blood sugar from spiking.
Not to mention it’s pretty simple to make and tastes absolutely delicious with its tangy flavor.
Making sourdough bread is rather simple once you get your own starter. Making your own sourdough bread exploded in popularity in 2020 during the pandemic. Finding a sourdough starter then was very hard to come by because of their popularity.
While the sourdough fermentation process can help people with a gluten intolerance it still isn’t quite gluten free. But those with a gluten intolerance should do much better with sourdough bread over other breads.
So yes sourdough bread is quite good for you and has many health benefits. It can help with weight loss but since it still contains carbs you shouldn’t go overboard with eating it. But if you’re trying to get your bread fix then sourdough is one of the best options.
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.