The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How do you make a "light calories bread"

ramat123's picture

How do you make a "light calories bread"

Hi All,

It was a matter of time before my collegues at work have started to ask for lighter (in terms of calories) bread.

I'm selling about 10 loaves a week and now they want the "diet" version.

How do bakeries create the light versions? Do they use more starter?

Thanks a lot,


Yerffej's picture

Without knowing what you are making now, any kind of sensible answer is not possible.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

With my bread that leaves water, salt and ... and ...   Offer a glass of salt water? 

With a dash of caraway perhaps?  Or a sprig of parsley on top?  I hear it's full of good minerals and it with freshen breath.  :)

You could replace some grain with vegitables.  Carrots?  Broco Bread?  How about beans?


clazar123's picture

I wouldn't want to emulate the ingredients I see in most "light" commercially-made breads but you could make your bread higher in fiber,whole grain or even slice it thinner.


Dragonbones's picture

Up your hydration, don't degas, and go for really big holes in the crumb. Tadaaaa!

ramat123's picture

What I'm making right now is a home recipe of:

1.5 cup whole tye

1.5 cup whole wheat

1.5 cup Bread flour

2 cups water

200 gr whole wheat 70% hyderation starter

5 tsp salt.

Thanks again,


Yerffej's picture

I am guessing that your starter is wild yeast and not commercial yeast.  If so, you are already making one very healthy bread. If not, switch to wild yeast which is a very healthy product as compared to commercial yeast.

I can consume a seemingly unlimited amount of sourdough bread without feeling full and heavy, but only a small amount of yeasted bread will bring about that stuffed feeling.


jeb's picture

> switch to wild yeast which is a very healthy product as compared to commercial yeast.

And where, pray tell, do you find evidence that wild yeast is healthier than commercial yeast? There is a great deal of "junk science" out there that might make such a claim.

> I can consume a seemingly unlimited amount of sourdough bread without feeling full and heavy, but only a small amount of yeasted bread will bring about that stuffed feeling.

Placebo effect!

Yerffej's picture

"The wheat bread produced using sourdough fermentation had the lowest postprandial glucose and insulin responses."

Yumarama's picture

in that list is the flour which has a slightly higher carb or fat content.

According to

Flour, Med. Rye, per 102g cup: 361 cal, 1.8g fat, 79g carb

Flour , Whole Grain, per 120g cup: 407 cal, 2.2g fat, 87.1g carb

Flour, White, per 125g cup: 455 cal, 1.2g fat, 95.4g carb

So the white, unbleached has the least fat but the higher cal due to carbs. Whole wheat has the most fat but 6 grams less carb per cup.

You could switch out the white for ww to cut back carbs but you'd increase fat. You could switch out the ww for white to cut back fat but you up the carbs.

Or you could just write "diet bread" on the bag but tell them they just can't slather it with butter, cream cheese, mayo or peanut butter. And up the price 50% for expecting the bread to watch what they eat for them.

A slice of bread isn't fattening. But eating a slice of bread with butter, peanut butter and jam is. Eating seven of them at once, even more so. At about 30-35 cal per slice, the bread is not the problem when a tablespoon of butter is 100 calories and peanut butter is 95.


A Hamelman BREAD baking group

ramat123's picture

I haven't laughed so much for months!

You're right. I'll keep that in mind. Will get back to tell what happend.

Thanks! David

serifm's picture

Thinner slices.

clazar123's picture

That has been done with commercial bread. I remember WAAAYYYY back when the bakery I worked at asked customers if they wanted regular thickness slices or thinner slices. It was promoted to reduce calories and still sell bread.

enaid's picture

The average amount of calories in a slice of bread is 100, depending of course on the type of bread and the thickness of the slice. Although white bread and whole wheat have the same amount of calories, the high fibre content of whole wheat makes one feel fuller sooner so one doesn't, hopefully, eat as much.  As others have already said, more concern should be made of what is on the bread.  There are many things that, unfortunately, many people eat that are far more fattening and unhealthy than bread. There seems to be too much emphasis on calories and dieting when the real problem in controlling weight is lack of exercise. For those concerned about their weight, I suggest, first of all, moderation in all things. Cut out the junk food, fast food, fried foods and processed food and go for a brisk half-hour walk every day. It is sacrilege on this site to talk about diet and bread in the same breath!  Bread is the staff of life.  Don't mess with it.

tananaBrian's picture

I would probably market your bread with the concept of having 'low glycemic index' in addition to 'low calorie' if you are baking with sourdough.  Using sourdough significantly drops the glycemic index of the bread and reduces the hunger cycling and issues with cyclic cravings that many get from eating 'normal' bread... that alone will result in them eating less and keeping the calories down.  Whole-grain and whole-fiber, and rye blend, breads also have lower glycemic indices (us diabetic and hypoglycemic types watch these things).  Otherwise, the only thing you can do to keep calories low is to bake 'lean' breads.  Breads that don't contain calorie-adding components such as milk, butter/oil, and sweeteners; instead sticking to basic grains, salt, yeast, and water.  Finally, point out that it is the additives ...what they put on the bread that adds a lot of calories.  Like a potato, bread is plenty healthy and low calorie on it's own, but that can all get tossed away if you bury it in butter, peanut butter, cream cheese, and other "goodies" (that I love!).  Tell them that your bread is so good, that it doesn't need toppings!  90% of the bread that I bake is consumed by my family and I plain, nothing on it... And we like it that way!  (Of course, a crispy ciabatta sliced the flat way and stuffed with spicy italian meats and chunks of cheese is pretty hard to pass up every now and then!!)



mcohrs's picture

It seems to me that the question is a good one in that there are breads on the market that are "Reduced Calorie" and I for one wish to know how they did it.  Reading comments about slicing thinner, don't slather with butter or go to the gym are not serious responses to the question. 

I would like to know if they use a bulking agent such as a bran in order to increase the volume or reduce density that allows for fewer calories per slice to be delivered.  I acknowledge that using a yeast in such a way to deliver great hole structure can work but the commercial breads don't look like swiss cheese.


tananaBrian's picture

I looked into how commercial 'reduced calories' bread is made commercially once, and I found that they vary from one company to another.  My conclusion at the time was that they used 'every trick in the book', e.g. bulking up with oat fiber, dough conditioners and rising agents to increase loft, more complex sugars such as fructose or sugar substitutes, lower fat etc.  I didn't check at the time, but now I wonder if they actually used a thinner slice as well.  Dr. Sears, who came up with The Zone Diet, claims that higher fiber results in fewer available calories as well, and I know from the Weight Watchers points calculator that they seem to confirm this.  Also, if you see "cellulose" in the list of ingredients ...that's wood flour, the fine dust that comes from sanding wood (byproduct of the furniture industry etc).  It's a calorie-free (undigestible) bulking again long as the gluten is well formed or binders are added, then things like wood flour can be used to reduce calories without decreasing bulk or loft.

My solution:  Make simple breads that contain no fats in them, and bake with sourdough to naturally reduce the glycemic index, and lean towards whole grains ...AND don't overeat etc.  The reduced calorie stuff from the store is about as exciting to eat as a loaf of cardboard...



MangoChutney's picture

Sun-Opta for one sells oat fiber specifically for use in commercial reduced calorie breads.  It is available online at Honeyville Grains, both in 50lb bags and in repackaged 4lb bags.  I actually bought it to increase the fiber in our diet and have not yet used it in bread.  It has reduced the caloric content of our breakfast oatcake as well as adding fiber, so that ought to work in bread also.  In their literature Sun-Opta says "Insoluble fiber alone can typically be used to reduce calories by up to 30%. For calorie reduction goals greater than 30%, a combination of soluble and insoluble fibers (MultiFiber™) is recommended."  Some poking around reveals this MultiFiber to be a combination of oat fiber and inulin, which is a soluble fiber from the agave plant.

dabrownman's picture

something else like veggies, use a lot of tofu, replace; salt with soy sauce mixed with a little corn starch, replace the water with chicken stock.  Stir fry, instead of bake, over high heat.  Very nice, low carb, unusual looking bread (because of the corn starch)  that is low cal and very tasty when served with some nice bao, rice or noodles :-)

Seriously, going for bigger holes with some kind of ciabatta and slicing thinner are the real options here if you wnat to control calories and carbs.  It all comes down to portion control.

whoops's picture

I would replace the AP with whole wheat and or the rye. Also, I recently saw studies that reported that rye bread actually helps LOWER blood glucose, and can help diabetics manage their blood glucoses better, which is why I would opt for replacing with the rye, then you can even tell them it helps with diabetes. Oh, and slice thinner.


Niashi's picture

Pumpernickel and barley have a lower glycemic index, you could use that. Regular whole wheat has the same index as AP. I've been doing a lot of research into baking for diabetics. I haven't picked up Peter Reinharts newest book which is aimed at gluten-free and diabetics though. I need to do that.