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Does bread make us gain weight?

Diet culture is a large factor of our everyday lives, so it is likely you have heard someone say bread makes you gain weight. Is this true or is there more to this ad nauseam phrase.

Let’s talk about something called energy balance.

You have probably heard of the term calorie or kilojoule. These are unit of measure of energy, in the same way that kilometres measure distance. They both mean the same thing, they are just a different unit (like kilometers and miles). Each day we are required to consume a certain amount of calories or kilojoules to keep our bodies functioning. The amount of calories/kilojoules needed is different for everyone because we are all made up differently, like how much we weigh, how tall we are, our gender, and activity levels, just to name a few factors.

With energy balance, we can eat more calories to gain weight, less calories to lose weight, or the right amount to maintain our weight. Ideally, we want to achieve energy balance, where the calories/kilojoules we eat equal the calories/kilojoules our bodies burn to keep us alive and functioning well[1]. There is currently some formulas that we can use to calculate our energy needs, but I find average-based formulas not to be so specific, therefore I highly recommend that people work with a dietitian to find their own personal set-point.

So back to bread. All food has calories in it, one being bread. Not one food can make us gain weight. I’ll say that again: Not one food can make us gain weight, not even bread. It is only when we eat too much food, especially foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients and fibre, that we may begin to gain weight. Please note, other health factors have a role to play with weight gain so again, please get a specific opinion that is specific to your case.

The key is not to cut out bread from your diet, but to ensure you are eating to maintain an energy balance through a diet filled with variety. So, forget the myth about bread making you gain weight, and enjoy this carbohydrate goodness!

Two hands holding home made bread posted by A Dietitians Mission

Selecting bread is, however, an important factor to ensure you are consuming the best varieties for your health. To easily avoid extra additives in breads, try going to your local bakery and picking up a fresh loaf of bread or opt for the bakery section in the supermarket. From my experience working with clients over the years, bakery bread leads to less digestive symptoms like occasional bloating and gas.

Moreover, I would recommend you go for wholegrain

varieties, as they can be an excellent source of fibre. Consuming mostly whole grain bread can be beneficial for preventing type-2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers[2]. Sourdough bread has also shown to be beneficial and has been linked to better digestion for those suffering digestive issues[3].

The bottom line? Don’t fear bread. Not one food, not even bread, can make us gain weight if we are eating a balanced healthy diet. If you think you need extra guidance about your weight or health struggles, please reach out for a personalised session. I will help you unpack the ins and outs of your life that may help you find the answers to what foods are most suitable for your body.

ADM xx

[1] Hill, J., Wyatt, H., & Peters, J. (2013). The Importance of Energy Balance. European Endocrinology. 9(2). 111-115. [2] McRae, M. (2017). Health Benefits of Dietary Whole Grains: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. (16)1. 10-18 [3] Lau, S., et al. (2021). Sourdough Microbiome Comparison and Benefits. Microorganisms. 9(7). 1355.

Dr Joyce Haddad, Director of A Dietitian's Mission, is a Dietitian, Nutritionist and Master Personal Trainer with a passion for health and wellbeing. ADM aims to help the public make informed and realistic nutritional choices and ensure everyone has a healthy relationship with their body and with food.


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