Is bread fattening or good for weight loss?

Bread has been eaten for thousands of years and is one of the most common types of food available today. It is not only enjoyed for breakfast but is used in a wide range of recipes as well.

Nowadays, there are many different types of bread available on the market, so you are spoilt for choice.

A lot of people who are watching their waistlines try to avoid bread at all costs, and you might be thinking of doing the same. So the question is, does eating bread lead to weight gain or not?

How is bread made?

Flour is the primary ingredient in bread and it is made from wheat. The wheat is cleaned and milled; the degree of processing determines whether white, brown or wholemeal flour is produced.

You can also get bread that is made from rye, oats, spelt and corn.

The flour is mixed with yeast, salt and water to from bread dough. This is then cut into individual pieces, kneaded and finally baked, resulting in a loaf of bread.

Nutritional information

The table below shows the nutritional information for 1 slice of different types of bread:

White (30 g) Whole Wheat (30 g) Rye (32 g)
Calories 80 83  83
Fat 1 g 1 g 1 g
Cholesterol 0 0 0
Carbohydrates 15 g 16 g 15 g
Fiber 1 g 2 g 2 g
Sugar 1 g 1 g 1 g
Protein 2 g 3 g 3 g

You will notice that all 3 types of bread have similar amounts of calories per slice.

Calories are an integral part of weight management. They are units of energy and all foods have them, but in different amounts.

Foods that are mainly made up of water, like most fruits & vegetables, tend to be low in calories. This is because water contains no calories.

For example, half an apple (100 g), which is made up of more than 80% water has 52 calories.

On the other hand, foods that have a lot of fat tend to be high in calories, because fat has 9 calories per gram. 100 g of almonds have 576 calories, due to their high fat content.

Bread contains a lot of carbohydrates, which provides you with 4 calories per gram.

If you want to maintain your current weight, you need to consume the same amount of calories as you use up during the day.

If you consume fewer calories than what your body requires, you will begin to lose weight over time. This is because your fat stores will be used as a source of energy.

However, the opposite is also true; any excess calories that you consume which are not used as a source of energy are stored as fat. This results in weight gain over time.

How many calories a person should eat will depend on their height, weight, age, gender, how often they exercise and their overall goals.

You can get an estimate of your calorie requirements using the calculator below:

Gender Age Weight Switch to lbs Height Switch to feet and inches Activity Level
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This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.

For example, a 35 year old lady who is 160 cm tall, weighs 80 kg and exercises once or twice a week will need to consume approximately 2000 calories to maintain her weight, 1600 calories to lose weight and 1200 calories to lose weight fast.

These calories should come from a combination of protein, healthy fats and good quality carbs.

What this means is that bread should not be feared when trying to lose weight. It is perfectly fine to eat it, so long as it is done in moderation. One slice of bread on a 1600 calorie diet amounts to 5% of total calories, which isn’t a significant amount.

The lesson here is portion control. Eating one or two slices of bread per day is OK, when they are part of a well balanced diet.

Can bread make you fat?

Eating too much of any food can result in weight gain. However some foods have far more calories than others do (as seen in the example above) so their consumption should be monitored more closely.

Half a loaf of bread (around 10 slices), equates to 800 calories, which on a 1600 calorie diet equates to 50% of total daily requirements. In addition to your other meals, eating this much bread would likely result in too many calories being consumed.

Additionally, what you put on your bread when you eat it can make all the difference. For example, 1 tablespoon of jam has 56 calories, and most of that comes from the sugar that it contains. 1 tablespoon of ordinary butter has 102 calories, most of it being saturated fat. Neither are very filling.

A much better option than these two would be homemade almond or avocado butter. Even though both are still fairly high in calories, they are rich sources of vitamins and minerals and are high in fiber, which will fill you up.

Also, eating bread together with a protein rich food such as an egg helps to keep you feeling satisfied for longer.

So the bottom line is, yes bread can be fattening if too much is eaten. Generally speaking, you should limit yourself to one or two slices per day.

White or whole grain bread?

White bread is made from flour that is highly processed. This flour does not contain the bran or the germ, which are the most nutrient rich parts; they contain large amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Whole grain bread is made from flour that retains both the bran and germ.

When 38 studies were analysed for patterns, it was found that whole grain bread does not positively influence weight gain, though there might be a possible relationship between refined bread and excess abdominal fat.

And studies such as this and this have found that individuals who eat more whole grains tend to weigh less.

A good option is Ezekiel bread, which is made from organic sprouted whole grains and has no added sugar.

Which brings on another vital point; before you eat any type of store bought bread, it is important to read its nutrition label. Manufacturers might try to advertise their breads as being healthy by saying they are whole grain, but they might also be adding in lots of sugar at the same time.

You should research the breads available in your area and be picky about which ones you eat, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

Conclusion

It is OK to eat bread, so long as it is done in moderation. Weight gain tends to occur when people overindulge and eat too much food. One or two slices of whole grain bread is fine and should ideally be eaten together with a protein rich food.