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Brown bread for weight loss: Is it better than other types of bread?

Is there any truth behind the idea that brown bread is healthier for you than white varieties?

Is Brown Bread Good For Weight Loss? | Juniper

There are few foods more versatile than the humble loaf of bread. You can toast it, grill it, or even eat it fresh, at any time of day. It goes with an endless array of toppings, whether you're in the mood for sweet, savoury, salty, or all the above. Plus, it tends to be cost-effective and fills you up, solidifying its status as a staple in pantries all over the world.

However, despite its long-standing place at the bottom of the food pyramid, bread has had a bad rap in recent years. In particular, white bread has gained a reputation for being a weight gain saboteur — with many so-called nutrition professionals recommending switching to brown bread instead.

But, is there any truth behind the idea that brown or whole grain bread is healthier for you than white varieties? And, should you opt for one or the other (or neither) if you're trying to lose weight? Here, we cover everything you need to know in the battle of the breads.

Should I stop eating bread if I want to lose weight?

First, it should be addressed that despite what some weight loss diet plans may tell you, no foods are inherently 'good' or 'bad.' At the end of the day, a calorie is just a calorie, and your body treats it the same way no matter whether it comes from a sliced apple or a piece of sourdough bread.

However, not all foods have the same nutritional qualities. Each has its own unique composition of macronutrients (the nutrients that facilitate our body's functions and give us energy including carbs, fat, and protein), as well as vitamins, minerals, and fibre. This means that certain foods give you more bang for your buck when it comes to fuelling you for everyday life.

Bread, both white and brown, is very high in carbohydrates, which are essential for keeping you full and building muscles (in collaboration with protein). However, it also happens to be low in protein and good fats [1]. Bread is also very calorie-dense (meaning, it has a high calorie-to-gram ratio), and it can be easy to blow through your budget if you're watching your calorie intake.

It should also be noted that some people have certain health conditions that make their bodies process high-carb foods differently from others. For example, someone who is insulin resistant can typically tolerate a lower amount of carbohydrates before they experience a blood sugar level spike. This can cause the body to hold onto weight, particularly belly fat [2].

For this reason, people with this condition may find that they more efficiently meet their weight loss goals on a low-carb diet like keto, while also feeling better. Other people, such as those with gluten intolerance, may find they experience bloating when they eat bread — which can make it difficult to reap the full rewards of a weight loss diet.

So, while bread shouldn't necessarily be off the table just because you're trying to lose weight, this will depend largely on your goals, lifestyle, and health profile.

Brown bread vs white bread: Which one is healthier?

As well as having a different nutrient content, certain foods are also more processed than others. This means that they undergo a more extensive manufacturing process (such as preserving, fermenting, or dyeing) to create the final product.

This is where the debate between brown bread and white bread comes in. Naturally, both require some human intervention to turn grains, water, salt, and yeast into an edible loaf of bread. However, white bread uses a lot of extra processing to achieve that perfectly fluffy, and buttery soft texture we all know and love.

The impact of this is twofold. Firstly, the gran from whole grains is removed to create the refined flour needed to achieve that pearly white look. In the process, this removes a lot of the nutritional goodness from whole wheat or brown bread, such as fibre, vitamins, and minerals [3]. Secondly, extra preservatives and sugar are typically added to improve the taste and shelf life of white bread. As a result, white bread typically has a higher GI (glycemic index), meaning it passes through the body and spikes blood sugar levels faster.

Nutritional facts of brown bread vs white bread

According to Weight Loss Resources, the average nutritional profile for a medium slice of brown bread is:

  • Calories: 74
  • Carbohydrates: 15.1 grams
  • Protein: 2.9 grams
  • Fat: 0.7 grams
  • Fiber: 1.2 grams

That's compared to a medium slice of white bread, which has:

  • Calories: 98
  • Carbohydrates: 18.7 grams
  • Protein: 3.7 grams
  • Fat: 0.8 grams
  • Fiber: 0.9 grams
  • Sugar: 1.2 grams

As you can see, the difference isn't huge — but brown bread has more fibre and less fat, carbs, added sugar, and calories.

What are the overall health benefits of brown bread?

According to The Association of British Dietitians, whole grains such as brown bread contain fibre, B vitamins and folic acid (vital for a healthy pregnancy), essential omega 3 fatty acids, and antioxidants including vitamin E, selenium, and micronutrients such as copper and magnesium [4].

As a result, there are plenty of well-being benefits to be gained from eating brown bread. For example, research shows that the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes may be up to 30% lower in people who regularly eat whole grains [4].

As mentioned, brown and whole wheat bread are also high in fibre. As well as keeping you full for longer (which can prevent overeating), this can aid gut health as fibre aids and regulates bowel movements.

Is brown bread good for weight loss?

At the end of the day, the best foods for weight loss are those that help you sustainably eat at a calorie deficit until you reach your goals. If you're someone who does a lot of physical activity and needs something to keep you full and boost your energy levels, then brown bread is likely a great option.

How to incorporate brown bread into your diet

The best way to incorporate any food into a weight loss diet plan is in moderation (apart from vegetables — you can eat those with reckless abandon). If you're watching your calorie intake, you may choose to time eating bread around your more active times of the day when you're more likely to burn them off (for example, breakfast).

It can also be a good idea to combine carb-heavy foods with protein and fat for a more balanced meal. This might look like:

  • Kippers, smoked salmon, or trout with avocado on toast
  • Roast beef and cream cheese sandwich
  • Boiled egg and marmite soldiers
  • French toast with cinnamon, Greek yoghurt, and strawberries

What other types of bread are good for weight loss?

If you're wondering 'Is rye bread good for weight loss?' you're in luck.

A study from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden found that rye bread is the best bread you can consume for weight loss as opposed to plain brown bread [5]. This is likely because it has a very high fibre content (even compared to other brown breads) and fewer calories on average, making it a healthy choice.

Not into the taste or texture of brown bread? No problem, there are plenty of other types of bread that can be comfortably included in a healthy diet.

For example, sourdough bread undergoes a long fermentation process that helps improve the bioavailability of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Plus, it contains plenty of gut-friendly bacteria for overall health. There's a good reason it's a mainstay in 2 of the world's blue zones (Sardinia in Italy and Ikaria in Greece), where many people live to be well over 100 [6].

Other types of breads that are popular for weight loss include sprouted bread (such as Ezekiel bread), oat bread, and soda bread. Plus, there's a growing range of low-carb options that rely on ingredients like almond meal, bread, and coconut to imitate the taste and texture of bread.

Eat brown bread, white bread, and more — and still lose weight with Juniper

We all have those times when we're craving marmalade jam or a full breakfast fry-up on buttery white toast and nothing else will do. The good news is that you can still enjoy white bread and your other favourites as part of your weight loss journey.

With Juniper's Weight Loss Programme, we combine weight loss medications with expert 1-on-1 health coaching to help patients achieve sustainable results without sacrifice. By resetting the metabolism and suppressing appetite, our patients naturally feel fuller sooner — so they can enjoy the foods they love and still lose 10 to 15% of body weight within a year.

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