Avoid Bread in Your Low Carb Program

A low carbohydrate program is not entirely removing carbohydrates from the diet, simply reducing the amount.  Breads are a high source of carbohydrates, and given that their main ingredient is wheat, (which is considered by the public to be a healthy grain) why should bread be considered unhealthy?  Sadly, bread today is not the same as the bread of 50 years ago.

It is amazing how easy it may be to reduce the amount of bread eaten in a day.  For most Americans, almost every meal is based around bread. Cereal, oatmeal, pastries, pancakes, or donuts start the morning.  Lunch is usually some form of a sandwich stacked between two slices of bread.  Afternoon snacks vary, but are typically bread based, with chips, pretzels, or cookies, washed down with a sugary drink.  The hearty meal of the day, dinner, may not have bread as the main course, but usually the appetizer or side plate is bread with a dipping sauce.  Do you realize how much bread is in your life?

Make the attempt to reduce the amount of bread in your diet, basing your meals around protein, instead of a high starch carbohydrate such as bread.  Go bun-less, eating everything served to you except the bun.  Fruits and vegetables are excellent snack and add more nutrients to a meal than a starch based bread. However, bread cannot be completely avoided. If bread is an absolute dire need for the meal, the key is to read the fine print on the food label, also known as the ingredients.  Ingredients are listed in order of their weight from highest to lowest.  The food product contains most of the first ingredient and less of the following ingredients. Reading the first five ingredients on a label of any product is a quick way to know what exactly you are eating.  An ingredient list that is 20 items long with words unknown to the consumer, is an item that should not be purchased.

For bread, look at the first word on the ingredient list. Usually the word is bleached.  Bleaching removes the yellow color of grain after the milling process.  The bleaching process however, destroys the original nutrients of the wheat. In order for these products to be sold in stores, the government has required that flour be ‘enriched’ or replaced with these nutrients.  The second or third word on the ingredient list is usually enriched wheat. If bread is to accompany a meal the bread I would recommend is home made, made of whole grain, weighs about 2.5 lbs and is the size a toaster oven.  This bread is nothing like the conventional bread seen on grocery store shelves.

Whole grain consists of three parts:

1. The bran– the outer shell, also called the kernel, contains the most fiber

2. The germ– the embryo of the plant that contains the most nutrients

3. The endosperm– largest part of the grain, and is mostly starch

Cheaper white flour contains the endosperm only, while 100% whole-wheat bread contain all three.  Most grocery store breads consist of the starch. Read your food labels at the back of the package, not the words sported in bold on the front. Know what type of bread you are eating, and how much you eat.  Eating a meal of starch is eating empty calories.

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Patrick Nemechek, D.O.

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