Not All Bread is Created Equal

“Give us this day our daily bread”

Matthew 6.11

Whole grains. Refined grains. Ancient grains. We’ve come to a place in history where even something as simple as bread has become a cacophony of choices. It’s one of those things that drives some people crazy because change is hard, and while I understand the desire for wanting things to remain the same when it comes to health I prefer to listen to the science. And the science is becoming quite clear when it comes to bread. You may have grown up on white bread but eating refined grain bread like Wonder Bread is akin to downing straight sugar — and sugar is going to be the death of you.

This week I read a great article that did a nice job of making the case for whole grain bread. Whole grain means the bran, the germ, and the endosperm of the grain kernel have all been left intact, meaning the bread is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Whole grain bread can include wheat, but can also include other grains like barley, rice, oats, and others. You may see it marketed as 9 grain, or 12 grain, or even 21 grain.

Regardless of how many types of grain are in the bread, the key thing is that the grains are not processed down to flour which removes the nutrients and when digested pretty much leads to excess sugar in your bloodstream which in turn is stored in the body as fat. This is why so many doctors, nutritionists, and other health professionals say cutting out bread can help you lose weight. Refined flour can also lead to insulin resistance and eventually diabetes and heart disease.

“Bread made with whole grains = good. Highly processed bread (e.g., white bread) that adds calories and sugar but not much else = not so good.”

— Health & Fitness Cheat Sheet

Hence you’ve probably heard me say bread equals death of some variation of the bread will kill you trope. You’ve probably also heard me say I eat a low carb diet, which is true — but note that I never say I eat a “no carb” diet.

I avoid all refined-grain bread and bread products, including bagels, pizza, crackers, pretzels, etc. I will almost always pass the bread basket at a restaurant because those rolls are more than likely made from refined grain. Yes, it’s hard. That shit is addictive. If you try to cut it out cold turkey you’ll go into withdrawal. I read that heroin-addicted rats once given sugar water will choose the sugar over the heroin.

But I do eat bread on occasion. In fact, whole grain bread is an important part of a healthy diet. I may have two slices as part of a sandwich a few times a week, or eat a slice of toast with eggs for breakfast. But I eat whole grain, high fiber, low sugar bread. And no, it doesn’t taste like cardboard. In fact, I think whole grain bread has much more taste and texture than refined flour bread.

Unfortunately, the labeling and marketing of bread are confusing. Wheat bread may be whole grain or not. Multigrain may be whole grain or not. You need to look for the words “100 percent whole grain.” Here’s a good explanation.

But I’ll make it even more simple for you. Our favorite bread is Dave’s Killer Bread Powerseed. It is ridiculously delicious and loaded with fiber, protein, and whole grains. We also enjoy Ezekiel Bread, which is made from sprouted wheat. Nature’s Own is also very good.

The trick is to eat good bread, in moderation, and to avoid bread of unknown content which means most bread served in restaurants and sub shops. You can sometimes find whole grain bread at specialty restaurants, but as a rule, you’re much better off avoiding bread when eating out.

Yes, I know, it’s hard. But your health depends on it.