The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

To cut the Carbs - a whole grain sour dough?

Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

To cut the Carbs - a whole grain sour dough?

I'm not diabetic or anything, but I do watch the carbs. One of my goals in the SD realm is that I can put together a whole wheat sour dough that has a low glycemic index. Cutting out the sugar and letting it ferment/proof overnight might help. Complex carbs, crumb with a lot of air pockets in it and small portions (thin slices) is better than doing without. Or so I would like to think.

Any suggestions for an easy to make, whole wheat SD? One thing I have in my favor is access to store ground, whole wheat flours. Either regular or high gluten, hard red spring wheat. And whole grain rye flours. And all manner of whole and cracked grains.

Simple is good. Sour is good.

swtgran's picture

I just took a tiny loaf of 123 white whole wheat sour dough out of the oven about an hour ago.                                                                                              

1/2 cup soudough ( I use white whole wheat), 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp. salt, 1-1/2 cup white whole wheat.                          

Stir together the night before.  Twelve hours later, do a stretch and fold.  Rest your dough while you heat your oven to 475 with a your oven safe lidded bakingpot in it.  Set your dough in pot, cover and bake 20 min.  Remove lid, bake until crust is brown and crusty. 

If you double everything you have 1 cup water, 2 tsp. salt, 3 cups flour, 123.  Then you use 1 cup sour dough.

I am a diabetic and I make this regularly.  I also make sourdough whole wheat pitas and make chips out of my older ones that I use for dipping and as crackers.  Terry


ericb's picture

I think one of the biggest benefits of any whole wheat bread is an increase in fiber (both soluble and insoluble). If you're careful, you will naturally reduce your carbs simply because you will fill up faster on whole grain bread. 

Keep in mind that 100 grams of whole grain bread still contains around 70 grams of carbohydrates. There's really no way around this, unless you start to add extra wheat bran or something like that.

 I can't speak to the benefits of  extended fermentation or use of sourdough beyond the improvements in flavor and shelf life.

Of course, my personal opinion is that if you follow Michael Pollan's advice to "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.", you'll be fine. 

Flour ground from hard red spring wheat is what you want. Peter Reinhart's book, Whole Grain Breads, is a keeper. Check it out at your library or local bookseller.

Good recipes are here, here, and here. An easier recipe is found here.

Best of luck. Please report back and let us know how it goes.

spsq's picture

I am only able to cut and paste rather than provide a link.  You'll find this article interesting.  The concept of sourdough being lower on the glycemic index than even ww has been discussed here before.  Like you, I'm curious as to whether ww sourdough would be even "better" for you.  This article is taken the current edition of the Western Producer newspaper(website: :


Health | Bread study
Best breads for the body
Sourdough bread best for regulating blood sugar levels | Whole grain has better nutritional value than whole wheat

By Robert Arnason
Brandon bureau
There was a time when buying bread was a simple choice between a loaf of white, brown or occasionally rye. Today, the bread aisle at the grocery store offers options from whole wheat to stone ground whole grain flax bread with omega 3.
But Terry Graham, professor in the nutritional sciences department at Ontario’s University of Guelph, has determined that the choices are not that confusing because white bread and whole wheat bread have the same health benefits for consumers.
Graham made this discovery as part of an ongoing study where he’s trying to find out how different breads affect carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar levels in the body.
“(We took) a group of unfortunately typical Canadians, in that they are middle aged, sedentary, overweight … and we had them consume different types of breads (for breakfast),” he said, noting that they used four different types of bread in the study — whole wheat, white, sourdough and whole wheat with added barley.
Graham and his colleagues then monitored the subject’s response to the bread for three hours to measure how quickly the body metabolized the starch into sugar.
Researchers thought the whole wheat and the whole wheat with barley breads would be the “shining stars,” Graham said.
But the results, which have been published in the British Journal of Nutrition, did not meet that expectation.
“The response to the whole-wheat breads was no different, it certainly was no more optimal … than the response to white bread,” he said, noting that both breads caused blood sugar levels to rise at similar rates.
Graham later concluded that the response was the same because whole wheat bread is only marginally different from white bread.
“If you go down the grocery store aisle, you’ll see all these whole wheat breads … (But) if you actually sample them, they have the mouth-feel and the taste that’s pretty much like white bread,” he said.
“Ninety percent of all the breads consumed in North America are either white or whole wheat.”
Graham explained that North American consumers prefer bread with a “soft, mushy” texture, which forces millers to make whole wheat breads from fine grained flour.
“The parts of the grain like wheat germ and bran that have the health benefits are taken out to create white flour and then partially added back in to make whole wheat (flour).”
The other surprise from Graham’s study was that sourdough bread came out on top, because it was the best at regulating blood sugar levels, an essential trait for diabetics and a health benefit for most consumers.
“You want to see the smallest rise in blood sugars…. With the sourdough bread, we saw the best responses in blood sugar.”
Steve Ciu, an Agriculture Canada research scientist who worked with Graham on the study, explained that sourdough provides a different form of carbohydrate than other breads.
The fermentation process to make sourdough produces oligosaccharides, a carbohydrate found in legumes, onions and asparagus, which has three to 10 simple sugar molecules linked in a chain.
“This material (oligosaccharides) cannot be digested by our enzymes … they will stay in the body and cannot be digested (in the stomach or small intestine),” said Ciu.
Instead the carbohydrate slips into the large intestine where it ferments to produce beneficial fatty acids.
Because this type of carbohydrate is digested much more slowly, blood sugar levels do not spike immediately after eating sourdough bread.
Following this study, Graham began looking at subjects’ blood sugars after they ate whole grain bread for breakfast.
“(Whole wheat) is very different from whole grain,” he said. “(With whole grain) you’re going to have more of the important nutrients beyond starch. You’re going to have all of the bran and all of the wheat germ. So you’re getting fibre and a number of vitamins.”
Although the study is not yet published, Graham said it showed that whole grain breads are indeed better at controlling blood sugar than whole wheat, but the results varied from bread to bread.
“I’d love to be able to tell your readers that all the whole grain breads are really good. But you could see different responses depending on which of the products (was consumed),” he said.
Asked what type of bread he eats, Graham said he prefers sourdough whole grain breads.

82 bread 5col.psd

Among the breads studied at the University of Guelph were German rye, left, sourdough, multi-grain, white and whole wheat. Sourdough bread rated tops for regulating blood sugar levels. | william dekay photo

nutrition facts
Based on one ounce (28.35 gram) slice of bread, with percent of daily value based on a 2,000 calorie diet:
Sourdough, French or Vienna style %
Calories 78 KJ --
Total carbohydrates 14.7 g 5%
Dietary fibre 0.9 g 0%
Whole wheat (commercially prepared)
Calories 70 KJ --
Total carbohydrates 13.1 g 4%
Dietary fibre 2.0 g 1%
White bread (commercially prepared)
Calories 75 KJ --
Total carbohydrates 14.3 g 5%
Dietary fibre 0.7 g 0%
WP graphic | Source:

Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

Thanks for the reply. This very informative. My thinking was that the fermentation process of sourdough would consume some of those calories from the flour. While that may or may not be true, it also appears to be converting them to indigestible ingredients.

I grew up as a farm kid and, among other things, we raised cattle. Fescue was a common type of grass used for hay but you had to cut it early or else the nutrients in the hay became indigestible. A cow could starve to death with a full belly of the stuff. What a great diet!

As for the flours, I am always surprised at how little difference there is the carb/fiber difference between white flour and even whole grain flours. That's net carbs for you Adkins followers.

So one avenue I'm going to explore is long fermentation sourdough from whole grain high gluten spring wheat (ground that myself yesterday), with other whole grains added in for texture.

flourgirl51's picture

If you want to really cut the carbs you should use sprouted flours as the starch molecules from sprouted flours are changed into vegetable sugars which are then digested as vegetables by the body. There is more info here


Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

Interesting. Is that your site? If so, I'd like to call and visit. My father and an aunt have problems with gluten. This may be of interest to them too.

flourgirl51's picture

Yes it is. You can call anytime. You can actually smell the difference in my sprouted flours as they have a veggie odor after they are made.

nicodvb's picture

On this behalf, can someone explain if rye breads, especially the kinds of rye bread prepated with scalded flour or grains, have a high GI? I ask it because I taste distinctively a sweet taste, although not as much sweet as a cake ;), but still.. it's definitely sweet.

As far as i know it's due to maltose, that has an even higher GI than glucose.


Rys is famous for being healthsome, but the sweet component leaves me a bit perplexed (and delighted;) ).


The rye I use is always wholemeal or made of cracked grains.




BLinn's picture

I'm a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic, also a home baker.  Homemade sourdoughs, yeasts, whole grains, sweet breads, chocolate cakes...I love them all!  Being diagnosed in my 60's, means I've developed many eating habits, most diabetics successfully avoid.  Jeeze, this seems so unfair!

SPSQ, thank you for the article!  The part about sourdough being digested lower in the digestive tract, slowing down digestion & producing beneficial fatty acids shows that different carbs behave differently for some of us.

A few things I've learned:  

1. Whole, unground grains (ex: cooked wheat or rye berries) have much less effect on blood sugar, than ground grains.

2. 'Whole wheat' flour from a big commercial mill will be barely more nutritious than AP flour (see Michael Pollan, Cooked).  They remove the germ & bran in the grinding process, then add some back, apparently making a very different & inferior product from Stone ground, or home ground flour where the entire grain is retained.  I'm asking for a Komo grinder for Christmas.

3. Some people on the web site say they are much less affected by sourdough breads than commercial yeast breads.

4. Apparently we diabetics are each unique.  Some can tolerate potatoes and others cannot, for example. 

5. My current favorite bread is Tartine 3's 'Seeded Wheat'.  It is about 30% seeds and truly delicious, imho. 




wholewheatwholeme's picture

I just came accross your post and, since I've been trying to create the perfect 100% whole wheat (stone ground) sourdough, I thought I'd chip in.

My most successful whole wheat loaf so far and the one I have been making for many months isdone using these tips: 
1. Let the flour and the water rest for a while before adding the starter
2. Knead hard at the start to develop strong gluten
3. When the dough is puffy, manipulate as little as possible (the pieces of wheat can easily break the gluten and de-puff the dough)
4. Let baked bread cool in a towel to keep the crust from becoming cement.

I start with the same ingredients and quantities as a regular, flour water and salt recipe. I used white starter and fed it whole wheat flour, it's been long enough that I consider my starter to be 100% whole wheat now. 

1. Mix the flour and water together, and let rest for 1 to 5h at room temp before adding the starter and salt. I usually feed my starter in the evening using 20 g starter, 50 g water, 50 g flour (for 100g of active starter in the morning) - and I leave both my starter and my flour + water on the counter overnight. 

2. After the rest, add in the starter and the salt, and mix. The dough will be stiffer than your regular white dough, so add in a tablespoon or two of water (as needed). I usually try to get a soft ball consistency. 

3. Once it's mixed, I knead for about a minute. I knead hard, using the slap and fold method.

3. Notice how the whole wheat dough doesn't stick to your fingers, the bowl, or the working surface.

4. For the next 2H, turn every half hour. I use the slap and fold technique for the first two turns and go quite hard. My last two folds are more delicate, slightly stretching and folding.

5. Let ferment at room temp but monitor, it ferments faster than white bread.  If you press the dough and it bounces back right quickly, it isn't ready - if it slowly comes back up it's ready, if it doesn't come back up it's too far.

6. Very delicately, I take the dough out on a table and shape it, place it in a basket, and fridge it for 1-10 hours, depending when I want my bread ready. I found that you can leave it in the fridge overnight to get a more sour bread. 

7. I bake in a dutch over at 450 F for 25 minutes, then another 17 minutes with the lid off. When the bread is out of the oven I wrap in a towel to cool, it helps keep the crust a bit more supple.

JettBakes's picture

Hi, I am a type 1 diabetic and a sourdough fanatic. I have found whole grains, especially sprouted grains do not spike my blood glucose in the way that white flour, sugar (aka simple carbs) do. All that said, whether simple or complex, they still impact blood glucose, its just that the more complex carbs make it easier to manage blood glucose.

As you probably know, the process is different when you introduce whole grains like WW, spelt & rye. Things can get more complicated. lol I don't have experience working with 100% loaves but I do like Kristen Dennis' 50% whole wheat bread as a good place to start (she also has a 100% WW recipe & tutorial). Here is a link to her YouTube video and in the details section she has links to her recipes, instagram account (highly recommend), equipment list, etc. Good Luck! Jett

RainingTacco's picture

Anything with less carbohydrates that can be quickly turned into monosacharides is better. Whole grain breads additionally have less carbohydrates, since there's more oils, proteins and fiber. 

I would recommend to start with whole wheat breads, with the sifting away bran method. Then you can add more and more whole rye, until you hit the point where bread will be too dense for your taste[or not, some people love very dense dark breads!]