Bread is often the first food people refrain from when they try to lose weight. Followers of low-carb, paleo, and keto diets are all told to stay away from this staple food. But is it really the right thing to do? If you love bread and can’t imagine your personal diet without it, you will be happy to learn that eating it in moderation can actually be beneficial for your weight loss. So, no need to give up on sandwiches and toast.
At the end of the day, it is the type of bread you choose that matters. According to Trisha Best, a registered dietitian, “Bread can be a means of helping with weight loss when you opt for bread made with whole-grain flour—not enriched, which can be sourced from wheat, oats, barley, and rye.” Here are 4 explicit ways in which bread can actually help you lose weight.
1. Bread is full of healthy grains
Bread comes in many forms, and not all of them are equally healthy and beneficial for weight loss. We’ve discussed this at length in the article, How To Choose the Healthiest Type of Bread. The short version is that we mostly gain weight and experience negative health effects from refined grain products, such as white bread, pasta, and white rice. These highly-processed products shouldn’t be confused with whole grain bread.
The contrast was shown experimentally. Studies clearly report that a lower-calorie diet that includes whole grains leads to more belly fat loss than a nearly identical diet with refined grains. Whole grains contain more beneficial vitamins and minerals than refined ones, too.
That being said, you can overdo it with whole-grain bread too. For the standard 2,000-calorie diet, a person should eat no more than 6 ounces of grains daily. At least half of those grains should be whole grains. To give you some perspective, one bagel can contain from 3-5 ounces of grains. So make sure that you eat bread in moderation, if you intend to reach your weight loss goals.
2. Bread can prevent you from overeating
Many people struggle with weight loss because diet-friendly foods leave them feeling hungry all the time. As a result, they end up snacking on unhealthy foods a few hours after a meal. This then turns into a vicious circle of even lighter and less filling meals followed by more hunger and snacks. You get the grim picture.
Whole-grain bread can help stop that circle by keeping you fuller after a meal, which will then prevent you from overeating. Whole grains are also slower to digest, so they will keep you full for longer and help you reach the calorie and weight loss goals without suffering and hunger. When shopping for whole-grain bread, you’ll need to look at the ingredient list of the bread. Beware of front labels like "wheat bread," "multi-grain," or even “whole grain bread,” as some manufacturers simply place those labels without actually putting any whole grains in the bread (this can be deduced from the ingredient list).
Likewise, don’t buy bread by color, as some manufacturers can actually add in molasses (a type of added sugar) that makes the bread appear darker without actually being whole-grain. Lastly, avoid bread that contains many preservatives and added sugars.
3. Bread is full of fiber
Fiber is the primary reason why bread is so filling, and whole-grain bread, unlike white bread, can contain quite a lot of fiber. Fiber aids in weight loss because it fills up the stomach without actually being digested and costing you any calories. But that doesn’t mean that fiber is pointless, as it actually helps your digestive system absorb foods in a more even manner and prevents blood sugar spikes.
Apart from that, fiber serves as food for the beneficial gut bacteria, lowers the risk of hypertension, and high cholesterol. How much fiber should you aim for in your bread? Search for whole-wheat bread that contains at least 3 grams of fiber in every serving.
4. Bread is a great basic for other filling foods
Few of us eat bread alone. And what you put on top of that slice of bread is just as important as the bread itself. A slice of fresh or toasted bread is the perfect basis for more delicious and healthy toppings like avocados, eggs, and veggies. Without the bread, these toppings would neither be as filling nor as satisfying. If you need some tips on how to make your sandwiches healthier and more weight loss friendly, read our article titled Sandwiches Can Be Healthy - 6 Nutrition Tips and Tricks.
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