Most people, these days, seem to be turning to gluten-free, high-protein, no-carb diets to lose weight, and bread is getting kicked to the curb–and in some cases, downright demonized. What people seem to be forgetting is that bread has been a staple in humans’ diets since Biblical times (if not before), and with good reason.
Bread is made from different kinds of grains, and grains are part of a healthy diet. In fact, the average adult needs about 6 servings of grains (mostly whole grains) every day, so don’t throw that loaf away just yet. Whole-grain breads can, in fact, be part of a sound weight loss strategy.
People get in trouble with bread when they are consuming too many refined grains, like white bread, crackers, pretzels, etc. In fact, research suggests that the more refined grains you eat, the more you want. So, stick to whole grains rather than refined: Whole grains have an abundance of vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber, and they’re low in saturated fats, in addition to being high in complex carbohydrates. Refined grains lose much of their nutritional value in the refining process, and end up as empty calories in your diet. Complex carbohydrates, like whole-grain bread, are burned more slowly by the body, take longer to digest and don’t raise blood sugar levels as quickly as simple carbs (like refined white flour); they also leave people feeling full longer than simple carbs. According to a study published in 2011 in Nutricion Hospitalaria, subjects who included bread in reduced-calorie diets experienced greater satiation after meals than study participants who consumed rice or pasta instead of bread.
So, let’s look at this: Whole grains are low in calories, high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and leave you feeling full longer. So, why do so many people think that the road to obesity is paved with bread? Well, maybe they’ve been sticking to breads (and other processed snack foods) that are made with only refined white flour, maybe they’ve been slathering their bread with butter, margarine, jams, mayo, etc. that are high in fats and/or sugar, or maybe they’ve simply tipped the scale of the food plan too heavily to the grain side. The key to maintaining a healthy weight is moderation, and too much of just about anything will throw off the balance.
So, if you’re looking to lose weight, you don’t have to pinch your nose when you walk by a bakery, you simply have to make wise choices, choose whole grain breads, and keep a balance in your diet. Bread is one of the most nutritious ways to get your calories every day, and the 60 to 80 calories you’ll consume in an average slice of whole-wheat bread will keep you fueled and leave you feeling sated longer. A healthy meal, complete with a serving of bread will help you kiss those sugar crashes and afternoon vending machine runs goodbye–and you won’t have to give up one of the oldest and greatest food joys of all time. Saying hello to bread again won’t open the doors to love handles and larger sizes, but it can help you say goodbye to the extra pounds you’ve been lugging around.