The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread and dieting

Felila's picture

Bread and dieting

I'm back on the Weightwatcher's Core Plan, which allows me to eat all I want of a list of healthy foods -- lean meats, eggs, vegetables and fruits, and whole grains. Bread isn't on the list. Dang.

However, I'm wondering how it is that I can eat all the couscous or kasha or rolled oats I want, but no bread. Seems to me that artisan bread made with whole wheat isn't all that different from cracked wheat -- is it?

I can eat a small amount of foods not on the list, so I guess I'll spend my point allowance on bread.

Has anyone else here tried combining baking and dieting? Do bakers tend to be roly-poly or svelte?

leemid's picture

Okay, at the risk of not being believed, I have noted over the past few months that I have been losing belly fat. A couple of weeks ago I had an insurance physical and the guy weighed me out at least 5 lbs lighter than usual. The only thing I have changed in my diet is that instead of eating snacks I have a slice of lean sourdough. Sometimes I butter it, sometimes not. Must be an over-all reduction of fat intake.

That's my story,


Cooky's picture

Genuine wholegrain artisan breads are nutritionally very much like any other wholegrain food.

I'm not a WW person, but I would guess they say 'no bread' only because so many commercial breads (including bakery versions) include white flour and fats and milk and sugars in unknown amounts. If you are making your own breads, you know what you're putting into them, so you ought to be able to count them as your grain allowance.

You can probably even use recipes that call for a little molasses or honey, for instance (and a lot of wholegrain breads do) because you can account for those ingredients in your meal plans.


"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

gianfornaio's picture

Bakers of entirely whole grain breads may recall many doorstops on the way to a genuinely good loaf, loaves which made overindulgence difficult. So there's a diet plan in there somewhere.

Anyway, there's a pretty big difference between eating a typical whole wheat bread (as distinct from 100% whole grain bread) and eating, say, the same weight of Kashi or brown rice or something... Aside of the many fats and sugars that lots of pro bakers add,  most whole wheat breads are made with such a low portion (like maybe 15-40%) WG flour-- the rest white flour-- that you have less fiber to slow down the spike of blood sugar you get with most bread...

Also, there's portion control... after all, what good is a sandwich with slices of bread the size of triscuits? A typical helping of bread is pretty generous...  How often do you just have one slice? 

Having baked some foccaccia earlier today and eaten several ounces fairly quickly, I'm tempted to conjecture that any svelte bakers must be either getting lots of exercise, exercising remarkable restraint, or baking poorly. 

And in support of Leemid's sourdough belly-busting, I have heard that sourdough is more slowly metabolized than other white bread, but re why that is, I have no idea.



SourdoLady's picture

I am not a diabetic but someone who is posted in another forum several months ago and said that sourdough breads do not mess up his blood sugar level like regular breads do. It has something to do with the long fermentation times of sourdough causing a chemical change in the sugars (starches). It would be very interesting if someone who is a diabetic could do a report on the effects of eating sourdough and the resulting blood sugar levels.

maggie664's picture

I have never worked out why Weightwatchers pass over bread in a weight reduction diet; after all the bread itself is not outragous in its energy value. When I was professionally working in this area (as a dieitian) with folk it was acceptable to include a certain amount of bread in the diet (after all it is an important component in most people's daily food choices) and it seemed unfair to expect people to emininate bread entirely. I used to recommend fibre and seed dense breads which gave a high satiety level, but restricted the fat spreads to an allowance per day. Eating breads made of highly refined flours was discouraged. I was also aware that foods which were completely eliminated could lead on to cravings which had to be 'served' and caused further problems.

susanfnp's picture

My understanding of the WW Core plan is that the core foods list does not include foods with high “binge potential,” regardless of how healthful they might otherwise be, and that’s why bread’s not on the list. The good thing about whole grain bread is that it is high in fiber, which lowers its point value. (I don’t think you get any additional credit if it’s sourdough, though :-) Whole grain bread's probably one of the healthiest ways to spend your discretionary points.

Good luck with the plan, Felila!


Rosalie's picture

I'll bet that when they say bread, they're referring to the general idea that bread is something made with refined flour.  I say get yourself a good grain mill (like NutriMill), some whole grains, and a good whole grain bread book (like Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book) and help yourself to some REAL bread.


maggie664's picture

Yes, i'm inclined to agree. Eating bread made from refined flours does result in a rush of insulin into the blood because of the rapid conversion of starch to ultimately glucose which is quickly absorbed into the blood from the intestine. This rush of insulin does make one hungrier. The agenda behind weight reduction regimes, as I know them, is really behavioural modification regarding food choices and eating patterns. That is why I am not a supporter of the elimination of important foods in one's diet, such as' real' bread, because one has to learn how to manage the quality and quantity of one's food choices for the rest of one's life, if weight control is an issue.

Felila's picture

The first round with Weightwatchers helped me lose 25 pounds and I have changed my eating habits enough that I was able to maintain that weight. However, being an extremely roly-poly baker, I have another 100 pounds to go and I'm starting again.

I was maintaining even with bread in my diet, but I must admit -- I did tend to overeat when the bread came out of the oven. I know I'm supposed to wait until it cools to cut it but fresh hot bread with a crackling crisp crust and a bit of butter is one of life's great pleasures.