Bread is an integral part of many meals, yet it has gained a negative reputation over the years with claims that it can lead to weight gain and can contribute to unhealthy lifestyle choices.
But is it really true? Does eating bread make you gain weight?
What is Bread Made Of?
Bread has been baked for thousands of years and stretches to all corners of the world. There are different flavors, textures, colors, and sizes, and yet, it all starts with the same first steps.
The two most important ingredients in bread are flour and water -- that is the base of all bread. Yeast, salt, fats, and other ingredients can be added as a way to differentiate that bread into a plethora of different bread types.
Most flours used in bread are grain-based, like wheat or rye, but flour can be made from all manner of substances, like nuts or potatoes.
After the dough is made, the bread is left to rise. The rise occurs from gas bubbles being created in the dough. The gas can be naturally occurring, or added in. Then, after the dough has risen enough (in some cases, it can actually rise too much if left to its own devices!), it’s time to bake!
Health Benefits of Bread
A high fiber content is one of the most important benefits of bread.
Fiber is hugely beneficial for overall health because it plays such a key role in regulating gut health and function. Fiber’s importance goes largely unnoticed by most, and as a result, lack of fiber is one of the main reasons people experience GI discomfort. In fact, 95% of all Americans aren’t getting enough fiber in their diets.
Although relatively low in nutrients, some bread does have more nutrients than others depending on the ingredients it's made with, opening up the potential for it to contain vitamins, minerals, and protein.
Finally, bread can produce something very important—energy. Energy is produced after we consume and digest bread, and our body turns those carbs into glucose which then gets used for energy in our cells.
The Downsides To Bread
Regular bread is generally low in nutrients and high in carbs, meaning that most types are not high on the list of ideal nutritious food options.
Additionally, bread—mainly white bread—can also contain anti-nutrients, which make it hard for our bodies to absorb the nutrients bread does contain. This can be especially problematic for vegans, who often eat more bread than their omnivore counterparts.
One of the biggest downsides to bread is how mass production has led to companies cutting corners in their bread making. From lower quality ingredients to adding in preservatives, recipes and baking practices have been altered to make bread easier to mass-produce and market to the general public.
Weight Gain and Loss: How Does Bread Factor In?
So, you want to lose weight but still want to keep bread in your diet. Trust us, we get it, and it is possible, but you should be aware of a few things first.
Weight Gain Factors
High intake of carbs, like the amounts you find in bread, can lead to high blood sugar levels since carbs get converted to glucose, i.e. sugar.
When you eat carbs, they eventually end up as glucose in your bloodstream. When your body detects this glucose, it releases insulin to either help the glucose move into cells for energy use, store it in the liver as glycogen, or convert it to fatty acids to stash away in fatty tissue throughout the rest of your body.
Normally, your body uses a majority of the glucose for energy and doesn’t need to store or convert it, but when you regularly consume an excess amount of carbs than what’s actually needed for energy use, this is where the buildup of fat can come from as your body looks for something to do with all this extra glucose floating around.
That said, it makes sense that cutting carbs by reducing your bread intake actually can help you lose weight, but all in all, you won’t inherently gain weight from bread unless you’re pounding it down in excess.
Additionally, there are certain bread types that are poor choices if you do want to lose weight. White bread is an infamously poor option if you’re trying to lose weight. White bread is often made with refined grains or, sometimes, bleached grains. These grains provide no nutritional value or health benefits, leaving empty calories and junk carbs.
Weight Loss Factors
Guess what? You can lose weight while eating bread.
How? Well, you need to choose bread made of healthy grains, specifically whole grains.
Bread with high fiber can also support healthy digestion, will can ultimately result in reduced bloating, better absorption of nutrients, and staying fuller for longer.
Of course, choosing bread with a lower number of calories and carbs can help, too. Carbs and calories aren’t bad for you by default and are actually needed to maintain your health. However, that excess of calories and carbs can lead to fat storage like we mentioned earlier, which is exactly the opposite of what you want.
Finally, check the ingredient label before you buy anything! If you see many ingredients you’re unaware of or can’t even pronounce, do some research before buying it. These ingredients are likely additives and preservatives, which can have overall negative health effects. Additionally, if you see added sugar, choose a different bread -- natural sugars are okay but added sugar is a big no for weight loss efforts.
Want to be able to eat delicious bread in a guilt-free fashion? Our bread at Uprising Food is just the thing. Our bread is a superfood, meaning that it’s high in fiber, minerals, and other nourishing ingredients that support your health. Plus, each slice only nets 2g of carbs.
What Type of Bread Should You Choose?
As mentioned above, choosing bread made of whole grains and fiber-rich ingredients can improve overall health and can be a good start on your weight loss journey.
However, there are more things you should be aware of when choosing the right loaf for yourself.
Quality Ingredients Over Quantity
Quality over quantity -- not exactly an unknown phrase. But for food, it can be especially relevant.
Too often, we see bread labels with ingredient lists that stretch what feels like a mile long. It’s almost as if their companies are hiding something from us, and oftentimes, they are.
Buying products made with only a simple amount of quality ingredients supports clean eating and an overall healthy lifestyle. You should, at all times, understand what ingredients you’re eating.
Not sure what ingredients qualify in healthy bread?
Try looking for sprouted or whole wheat if you’re someone who eats gluten, or opt for nut-based or buckwheat flours if you have a gluten sensitivity. Avoid refined or bleached flours as they have significantly fewer nutrients, fiber, and vitamins. Next, check to see if the fiber content is high and the added sugars are minimal.
Luckily, our bread at Uprising Food is made without gluten and tons of fiber, and carries all of the nutrients your body is looking for. Best of all -- minimal ingredients, only eight in total!
Reduce Preservatives and Additives in Your Diet
Additives and preservatives can be found in most products on every shelf of your local grocery store.
Companies use these additives because they can produce larger amounts of product faster and cheaper than ever before. Preservatives make the products last longer, therefore extending the expiration (and potential sales) date. Additives can make food look more attractive and add a more pleasing texture and taste. Common additives include food colorings, xanthan gum, added sugar, and more.
Additives and preservatives in minimal amounts generally have little impact on the body, but in larger amounts, they can have substantial negative effects on your health.
It’s true, overconsumption of bread can lead to excess calories, and thus, possible weight gain. However, consuming any food beyond the recommended serving can lead to weight gain, not just bread.
In fact, many types of bread can be very beneficial for you and can even aid with weight loss when paired with a healthy diet and exercise. It all depends on what type of bread you buy and being conscious about how much you ingest.