Is Bread Fattening? Really?


It’s hard to avoid articles, talk show segments, and book titles that address questions about bread and weight — “how fattening is bread”, “why is bread fattening”, “is bread bad for weight loss”, and “is bread unhealthy”. And our participants at Green Mountain ask similar questions about bread and weight. So how do we respond?

First, let me say that I really hate the term fattening when it is used in conjunction with food. At Green Mountain, we’ve long said — and others agree — that food often isn’t the real reason for struggles around weight. It’s feelings that send us to food to cope, and a lack of other ways to cope, that truly pose the problem.

That said, there may be issues with the current food supply these days that do contribute to weight struggles. But is bread part of the problem?

Is Bread Unhealthy? Many Believe So.

Is Bread Fattening | Weight Loss According to Mail Online, new research out of Australia shows that 43% of women avoid eating bread when trying to lose weight and 20% — one in five — feel guilty when they eat bread.

I doubt that the picture is much different in the US or Canada, given that the popular “bad food” these days is carbohydrates.

What’s even more disturbing is that the Aussie research showed that about 15% of moms cut back their kids’ bread intake because they don’t want them to get overweight.

The Facts About Carbohydrates and Weight

One of the biggest sighs of relief that I hear frequently from the women who come to Green Mountain is when I talk to them about putting carbohydrates — including bread — back on their healthy eating plates. The reason is clear: They love carbs and trying to avoid them is stressful, especially when they aren’t successful in avoiding them.

Read This Related Article:
Yo-Yo Dieting May Lead to Chronic Inflammation, Disease, Unhealthy Weights
The good news is that carbohydrates are an important part of healthy eating. Minimally-processed carbohydrate foods such as whole grain breads, winter squashes, white and sweet potatoes, beans and more play a significant role in our health. That includes a primary role in our appetite regulatory system that can tell us very accurately what, when and how much to eat if we support its efficient operation by feeding ourselves well.

That’s not to say that we can’t eat refined versions, though. Picture savoring a croissant in France. There can be a lot of good health in that act — pleasure is good medicine!

Craving Carbs: Restriction May Lead To Overeating

When we cut out carbohydrates, it creates problems. We may end up craving them — often for physiological reasons and even more often for psychological reasons. And that can lead to overeating them.
Putting them back on your plate can short-circuit that cycle. Plus, research shows that in terms of helping a person reach her healthy weight, low carb diets are no more effective than low-fat diets or high protein diets or any other myriad versions of weight loss diets.

Which brings me to the main point: Diets aren’t effective period for the vast majority of us. We need to learn to eat what we love in a way that makes us feel well. And for many of us, that includes breads. So the question really isn’t “is bread fattening”…it’s “how will I eat for pleasure and for health.

women love bread infographic

Should I Go Gluten-Free?

If we’re gluten sensitive, the task is to find good-tasting breads that satisfy. A couple of great brands are Udis and Canyon Bakehouse.

But remember, going gluten-free isn’t part of the solution to healthy weights unless you are gluten sensitive. Then removing gluten from your diet may help you feel better and find your healthy weight in the process.

Read This Related Article:
Will a Gluten-Free Diet Help You Lose Weight?
If you’re not gluten sensitive, you may end up gaining weight as many gluten-free products are richer than their glutinous counterparts.

At Green Mountain at Fox Run, we’ve helped thousands of women who struggle with overeating and weight.

4 responses to “Is Bread Fattening? Really?”

  1. Louise Long says:

    Bread can be a comfort food. Remember jelly bread back in the day? That was the only snack in the house. It is filling and satisfying, plain or otherwise. So to forego that is to forego pleasure from that.
    Back to good old moderation. But definitely don’t eliminate it.

  2. Tom Kohls says:

    Thank you for the article, I use to be in very good shape ,worked out ,could eat anything. But I had a vein clot and it collapsed the viein( largest one in body,in legs) causing terrible problems,mostly I can’t move around as much. And lots of pain..
    I eat the same,less,really,but age and less movment has caused belly fat mostly. It is uncomfortable socially,physicality and I worry about health as well.. So,since I’ve never dieted,I want to learn to eat right ,according to my new situation. But I’m usually perplexed. And I’m gaining wt.

    • Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD says:

      Sorry to hear about your problems, Tom. One of the things that happens physiologically when we become less active and grow older is that we need less energy (calories). But we so often eat out of habit that we continue to eat the same, regardless of how hungry we are. The answer to that is to start to listen to your cues and most of the time to eat only when you feel hungry and listen closely to when you are satisfied, instead of just finishing everything that’s on your plate. Search on our site and you can find a number of articles on mindful eating. Hope that helps!

  3. Patricia Royce says:

    Thank you for this article! I am a life long yo-yo dieter who has caused more weight gain from “dieting” than the few times when I just stopped trying to gain weight and ate healthy and enjoyed my activities. This recent obsession for carb free is unhealthy and sabatoges our desire for health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

View Author Page