Brown bread (such as wheat or whole grain) is the best bread for weight loss because it can facilitate and speed up parts of the weight loss process.
While it may not be everybody’s initial go-to, brown bread needs to become your next permanent swap if you want to keep those pounds off.
We’ll first reveal what makes brown bread better than white. Then we’ll go through each of the 10 reasons why brown bread is good for weight loss.
Of course the next question arises of how much brown bread to eat each day, which we’ll cover too. Along with the (very) few disadvantages of switching to brown bread.
By the end of this read – I will convince you to switch to the dark side.
What is Brown Bread?
Brown bread is the umbrella nickname for any non-white bread. This would include wheat, whole grain, honey wheat, rye, multigrain, etc.
To understand the difference between white and brown bread, we have to look at the most basic component of it – the wheat kernel.
There are 3 parts to the wheat kernel… well technically speaking it’s a seed, but there’s the bran, germ, and endosperm.
The bran is the outer layer of the kernel, the germ is what would grow the new plant, and the starchy endosperm is the food for the germ to allow it to sprout.
White wheat products (like white bread, pasta, and white rice) have had the bran and germ removed. This process is called refining with the purpose of a smoother texture and improved taste.
However, as the bran and germ contain majority of the nutrients, the end products are calorically-dense carbohydrates providing little to no nutritional value.
Compare this to whole grain products that still have the bran and germ intact. These foods have more protein, antioxidants, B vitamins, fiber, and healthy fats.
White wheat products try to combat this by undergoing enrichment. This is the practice of manually adding back in nutrients that were lost during processing.
However, not all the nutrients are returned and they are not in their original forms and amounts that would contain more phytonutrients.
So it’s pretty clear that generally speaking whole grain products are more nutritious than their white counterparts, but how does this affect weight loss specifically?
Below is a breakdown of why those two little parts, the bran and germ, make a drastic difference in your nutritional status and therefore weight loss journey.
10 Reasons Why Brown Bread is Good for Weight Loss
1) High Fiber Content
You’ll see that fiber is linked to several of the benefits on this list, and we’ll talk about each, but for this section it’s the fiber basics that I want to emphasize – gut health.
You can expect the “brown” product of any wheat food, like brown bread or brown rice for example, to have at least double the amount of fiber.
Fiber is essential for proper gut health and bowel movements. Two things that affect your overall health status.
As discussed often here at Culinary Dietetics, optimal overall health = weight loss. They are essentially one in the same.
Gut health impacts your metabolism, and fiber has been found to improve carbohydrate metabolism specifically. We all want to burn calories in our sleep, right?
2) Calorie Content
Brown bread has less calories than white bread so it will not increase your weight.
But what’s more important is that not only are there fewer calories, but the calories in brown bread are nutrient-dense calories.
White bread just gets its calories from refined carbohydrates. They refer to them as empty-calories as they provide little to no nutritional value.
Whereas brown bread gets calories from complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. All extremely beneficial and provide more than just energy to the body.
Registered Dietitian Advice: No matter what food you are looking at, the number of calories isn’t everything. You need to find out where the calories are coming from.
3) Overeating Prevention
Because fiber takes longer to digest, the high fiber content in brown bread can prevent you from overeating by making you feel fuller quicker and longer.
It’s pretty simple really, fiber literally spends more time in your stomach and intestines so it stimulates the release of leptin. Leptin is the hormone that decreases your appetite.
Oat fiber in particular has been found to be the most effective at improving leptin resistance.
So do yourself a favor and find a brown bread that contains oats to get your hunger regulation hormones working for you, and not against you, in your weight loss journey.
4) Higher Protein Content
Brown bread also has a higher protein content than white bread.
The reason why high protein diets are good for weight loss is because it results in a calorie deficit, just like many other popular diet plans (both good and bad).
Similar to fiber, protein is the most satiating food. Meaning it makes you feel the fullest the quickest. So the extra protein content in brown bread can also help prevent overeating.
Protein is also needed for muscle synthesis, aka the process of growing muscles. Even if you are working out, if there is not enough protein in your diet – your muscles will not grow or get any leaner.
Lean muscles are ideal for weight loss as they burn more calories at rest to maintain them, so remember that concept of losing weight in your sleep? Lean muscles will help you achieve that.
Sneak in protein wherever you can, like your bread choice for example.
5) Lower Cholesterol
Back to the fiber now, brown bread can help lower your cholesterol because of its soluble fiber content.
Quick science lesson: bile is a digestive fluid that helps break down fats. When the body needs to make more bile it uses our bad cholesterol to do so.
However, the human body is so incredible that it actually recycles its own bile and will store it in the gallbladder until needed again.
We can manipulate this process by increasing our soluble fiber intake.
Soluble fiber (like oatmeal for example) swells in the digestive system. When the bile enters this gel-like mass to aid with digestion – it can’t escape it. The bile is then excreted with the rest of the food.
This forces your body to use up bad cholesterol to make more bile. (yay!)
And as cholesterol is a fat, increasing your soluble fiber intake (such as with brown bread) will help your body get rid of stored fat.
6) More Vitamins and Minerals
Because the bran and germ in the wheat kernel are where all the nutrients are, brown bread is full of micronutrients.
Many brown breads even contain a variety of grains and seeds, compounding the benefits even more.
Whereas white bread is made from just the starchy endosperm, it is essentially only providing simple carbohydrates.
Even with the process of enrichment, the only micronutrients that they add back in are some B vitamins, and iron.
Compare this to the micronutrient list that brown bread provides; B vitamins, iron, antioxidants, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
You’ll want to avoid any micronutrient deficiencies if you are trying to be healthy and lose weight. Eating brown bread is an excellent way to get these nutrients in your daily diet.
7) Blood Sugar Regulation
Fiber can also help with blood sugar regulation, diabetic or not, having stable blood sugar should be a priority if you are trying to lose weight.
Why? Because excess sugar in the bloodstream stimulates the body to make more insulin that will result in storing the excess sugar as fat.
As stated earlier, fiber slows down digestion. This is beneficial for blood sugar regulation as it gives the body time to react more efficiently limiting the amount of sugar the body absorbs.
Less sugar in the bloodstream = less excess fat that your body will create.
8) Healthier Fats
Not all fats are bad. In fact some fats are essential in our diet. A hard pill to swallow in the weight loss world.
The good fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The bad fats are saturated and trans fats.
Brown bread contains a low amount of saturated fats with a nice dose of polyunsaturated fats.
Whereas white bread contains only saturated fats.
The good fats are vital for your overall health, including; heart health, organ protection, nutrient absorption, cell function, and hormone regulation.
All important functions in the weight loss journey, and can be accomplished if brown bread is a part of your normal daily diet.
Ok, so while we have covered all of the dietetic functions of what brown bread can do for you to aid with weight loss, we can’t neglect to cover the culinary benefits as well.
The taste and texture of brown bread differs from white bread because the entire grain of wheat is used in the making of it.
The taste of brown bread has a deeper nutty and earthy flavor compared to white bread. Its texture is also more dense and coarse.
Because of this difference in texture though, brown bread is able to withstand heavier “loads” and is not as flimsy as its white counterpart.
These characteristics of brown bread allow it to be a more versatile ingredient in the kitchen. As well as add another layer of flavor to your dishes.
Both food and nutrition aside, the 10th reason you should be eating brown bread if you are trying to lose weight is because it’s simply a decision that you can be happy about.
You know that feeling you have when you leave the gym, drink more water, or order a size smaller in your specialty coffee drink?
You feel good about yourself and feel good about making a healthy decision.
It may seem like such a small trivial thing, especially if we’re talking about just changing the type of bread you buy, but that “feel good feeling” is an actual physiological process happening.
Endorphin hormones are released after these decisions are made. Causing a positive-feeling now associated with this decision.
Consciously and unconsciously we strive for these feel-good feelings. You are more likely to make this decision again, to choose bread brown over white, to experience the satisfaction sensation of this reward system now ingrained in your brain (in your pituitary gland to be specific).
Capitalizing on these natural hormone processes is a great leg-up to take on your weight loss journey.
How Much Brown Bread to Eat for Weight Loss?
Just to be perfectly clear, brown bread will not cause weight loss in of itself. But it will help you reach your weight loss goals faster than if you are consuming only white bread.
In order to know how much brown bread to eat for weight loss, the first thing to figure out is how many grain ounce equivalents you should be having a day.
Once you know this range, you should consume half as whole grains as is the recommendation from the USDA.
The average adult woman should have between 5-8 oz equivalents and the average adult male should have between 6-10 oz equivalents of grains.
Ounce equivalents are various foods in the same category providing the same amount of nutrients but in their corresponding amounts based on the food that it is.
1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, ½ cup cooked rice, and 7 crackers are all examples of a one oz equivalents in the grain group. (Check out a more comprehensive list here)
For me being an average adult woman, I need to eat 5-8 of those options per day. And in order to meet the whole grain recommendation I need to make half of those whole grain.
So if I want to make brown bread my whole grains for the day I would need to eat 3-4 slices of brown bread per day.
Of course there are other ways to get in whole grains besides just bread. There is whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, quinoa, or even popcorn. It doesn’t have to be just bread.
If you are looking for just a quick answer however; make half your grains whole grain every day. Whenever you have the option to opt for whole grain – take it.
Disadvantages of Brown Bread
To be fair, let’s discuss the very few disadvantages of brown bread. If you are currently not a brown bread fan, these are probably those reasons why.
The taste. I grew up on Italian white bread, so I know full-well the taste difference in brown bread compared to white. If it’s not something you are familiar with, it can take time to adjust to.
The texture. Unlike the fluffy and light white delicacies in the bread aisle, brown bread is dense and can have a pretty grainy texture depending on the brand. Again this is not everybody’s forte especially if it is not accustomed to you.
Even though the taste and texture can be sticking points for some people, understand that brown bread has no nutritional disadvantages compared to white.
Making it well worth your effort to include brown bread more often.
It’s dietitian-recommended to eat brown bread for weight loss as it is a more nutrient-dense option. It is high in fiber that can help facilitate and speed up physiological processes involved within the weight loss journey.
10 reasons why brown bread is good for weight loss:
- High fiber content
- Nutrient-dense calories
- Overeating prevention
- Higher protein content
- Lower cholesterol
- More vitamins and minerals
- Blood sugar regulation
- Healthier fats
- The gratifying feeling of knowing you made a healthy choice
Be sure to always make half of your grains whole grain, even while eating out! For example, find out what the Healthiest Bread at Subway is (hint: it’s brown).
So what say you? Will you be making the switch to the dark side?
Dark side of the bread aisle that is.