By The Editors of Eat This, Not That!
We’re going to let you in on a diet secret few people know: You don’t have to give up bread to lose your belly fat!
Although it appears that when people boot bread from their pantry, they see weight-loss results, it’s not necessarily because the bread itself is the culprit. It’s likely because they were buying the wrong type of bread.
You see, bread can be made with just two ingredients: water and flour. Store-bought breads, on the other hand, can be made from more than twenty. (And that’s excluding toppings like seeds and grains.) Among these twenty-odd ingredients? Additives like calcium propionate, monoglycerides, DATEM, sodium stearoyl lactylate, and high fructose corn syrup. It’s not just you—they don’t sound too appetizing to us either.
So how does bread find a role in a healthy trim-down plan? Stick with our nutrient-dense, whole-grain-filled, fiber-rich, and energy-boosting picks and you’ll hit your health goals in no time. Next up? Pasta—just make sure you top it with the best of our 40 Best and Worst Pasta Sauces—Ranked!
1. Best For Whole Grain
Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Bread 1 slice: 80 calories, 0.5 fat (0 g saturated fat), 75 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (3 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 4 g protein
Nature’s Own Honey Wheat Bread
Per 1 slice: 70 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (>1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 3 g protein
"First off, when you're reading the ingredient list, you should be looking for the word 'whole grain', which means that the grain is still intact and hasn't been processed and essentially re-fortified," says Jessica Crandall, a Denver-based RD, Certified Diabetes Educator, and National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The very first ingredient on this Ezekiel loaf checks off that box, which also means it contains more fiber and offers more health benefits than breads made with processed “wheat flour.” What kind of benefits are we talking here? Whole grains have been found to reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes and even assist weight management and weight loss. An added benefit of Ezekiel, specifically, is that the grains are sprouted. This method increases levels of micronutrients and increases the bioavailability of those nutrients (meaning you’ll get more of them!). Read more about it in our report Why Sprouted Foods Deserve a Place in Your Diet.
On the other hand, Nature’s Own is only partially made with whole wheat flour, which means it can be more similar to a highly processed white bread. Additionally, Nature’s Own, as do many bread brands, extends their bread’s shelf life by filling it up with preservatives and makes it taste smoother with mono- and diglycerides. These man-made additives likely contain the same artery-clogging trans fats that the FDA banned from our food back in 2015. The only reason these ingredients are allowed in your food is that the FDA reviewed evidence and concluded that we don't consume enough of them to count as hazardous; however, that "evidence" hasn't been updated since 1975.
2. Best for Protein
Eureka! Organic Graniac 1 slice (48 g): 130 calories, 2.5 fat (0 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (5 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 7 g protein
Arnold Whole Grains: Double Protein
1 slice (43 g): 100 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (3 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 7 g protein
You don’t need to add “wheat protein isolate” to up your bread’s protein count like Arnold does. In fact, all you need to do is add wholesome ingredients like flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. By doing this, Eureka! creates a high-fiber, high-protein slice that will do wonders for your belly. Not only are these seeds high in muscle-building, calorie-blasting protein, but they’re also rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids that fend off inflammation and protect your heart.
3. Best for White Bread
Dave's Killer Bread, Organic White Bread Done Right Per 1 slice (40 g): 110 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 3 g protein
Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White
Per 1 slice (43 g): 110 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 4 g protein
You may have grown up eating white bread, but it’s time to move on from your Wonder Bread days. The reason: Wonder Bread and Pepperidge Farm’s Farmhouse White are made with simple-sugar-heavy flour that’s devoid of all the benefits of whole wheat: fiber, micronutrients, and energizing B vitamins. Not only are you missing out on key metabolism-regulating nutrients, but you’re also flooding your body with simple sugars that will only provide a short spurt of energy rather than keep you satiated for hours. Thankfully, Dave's Killer Bread White Bread Done Right has fixed this problem. By using a blend of both wheat flour and whole-wheat flour, the bread appears lighter, but they manage to keep their sugar content low and fiber content high.
4. Best for Gluten Free
Rudi's Gluten Free Multigrain Bread Per 1 slice (28 g): 65 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (2.5 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 1.5 g protein
Glutino Gluten Free Multigrain Bread
Per 1 slice (29 g): 80 calories, 3.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (>1 g fiber, >1 g sugar), >1 g protein
If you don’t have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, you’re better off with the high-fiber, nutrient dense whole-grain breads. That said, if you do want to go gluten-free, stick with Rudi’s over Glutino. Rudi’s is lower in calories, sodium, carbs, and sugar, while being higher where it matters: fiber and protein.
5. Best for Sandwich Thins
Arnold Sandwich Thins, 100% Whole Wheat Per 1 roll: 100 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (5 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 4 g protein
Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats, Soft 100% Whole Wheat
Per 1 roll: 100 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (5 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 6 g protein
We love that these sandwich thins are small and perfectly portioned for a weight-loss-controlled sandwich, but keep an eye out for ingredients. Nutritionals were pretty similar between the two brands, but we docked Pepperidge Farm’s offering for containing the artificial sweetener sucralose. That ingredient is known to impede your gut’s ability to fend off weight-gain-inducing inflammation. Arnold (also known as Orowheat in some areas) uses our higher-ranked zero-calorie sweetener, stevia. See how all the sugars stack up in our exclusive report: Every Popular Added Sweetener—Ranked!.
6. Best for Cinnamon Raisin
Pepperidge Farm Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Per 1 slice (28 g): 80 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 115 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 3 g protein
Thomas' Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
Per 1 slice (28 g): 80 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 120 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 2 g protein
We don’t know about you, but we think there’s something extra special about a slice of cinnamon raisin bread. Although these two brands are pretty similar, we’re sticking with Pepperidge Farm over Thomas’ because you’ll get an extra gram or so of protein. Either way, if you’re looking to keep this brand of bread in your weight-loss diet, be sure to keep it to a once-in-a-while treat and pair it with some natural peanut butter for some added healthy fats and protein to counteract its high sugar content.
7. Best for Oatmeal
Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Oatmeal Per 1 slice: 110 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 120 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 5 g protein
Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Oatmeal
Per 1 slice: 120 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 4 g protein
First off, don’t be fooled into thinking this bread is the best option just because it reminds you of fiber-rich oats. Worse still, is that you shouldn’t assume all oatmeal breads are equal. Even within brands the nutritionals can differ. When it comes to Pepperidge Farm, we recommend going with the “Whole Grain” style over the “Farmhouse.” That’s because the Farmhouse-style is not only packed with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and preservatives, but it’s also lower in protein and higher in calories and fat than the Whole Grain version.
8. Best "Light" Bread
Dave’s Killer Bread Thin-Sliced Organic 21 Whole Grains and Seeds Per 2 slices (56 g): 120 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (6 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 6 g protein
Sara Lee Delightful 100% Whole Wheat Bread Made with Honey
Per 2 slices (45 g): 90 calories, 1 fat (0 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (5 g fiber, 2g sugar), 6 g protein
You don’t have to grab a “Light”-marketed bread for a light option. Look for words like “thin-sliced” and check out the serving size of the slice. Some breads come in smaller loafs, where two slices are equal to 56 grams, whereas a single slice in a different loaf is the same weight. And don’t rely on “Light” to steer you (excuse us) to the light. Examine ingredient lists and keep high standards. Sara Lee might be lower in sugar and calories than Dave’s, but it contains zero-calorie sweeteners that could throw off your brain’s sugar calibration, fake fibers (like wood-pulp-derived cellulose fiber), preservatives, and trans fat derivatives. Dave’s is higher in sugar, but it’s completely balanced by an equivalent amount of fiber (which will slow your body’s digestion of the sugar), and contains 21 different grains and seeds full of energizing B-vitamins that will boost your weight loss progress.
9. Best For Fiber
Nature's Own Double Fiber Wheat 1 slice (28 g): 50 calories, 0.5 fat (0 g saturated fat), 120 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (4 g fiber, >1 g sugar), 3 g protein
Arnold Whole Grains: Double Fiber
1 slice (43 g): 90 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (6 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 4 g protein
If you’re looking for extra fiber, your best bet is to go with a seeded bread. That being said, there are a couple options out there that pump up the fiber without making you feel like you’re eating bird seed. In that case, we recommend Nature’s Own over Arnold. Nature’s Own is made with a prebiotic fiber called inulin, which can boost gut health, whereas Arnold’s fiber is cellulose: a wood-pulp derived fiber that’s only benefit is bulking up stool.
10. Best For Deli Meat Sandwiches
Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
Per 1 slice (34 g): 80 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (3 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 4 g protein
Sara Lee Italian Bread
Per 1 slice (32 g): 80 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (<1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 2 g protein
“What’s the connection with deli meats?” You may ask. It’s that deli meats are notoriously high in sodium (because it’s salt that cures and preserves the meat), so if you want to avoid a bloated belly, you’ll want to eat that ham sammie on some low-sodium bread. We like Ezekiel’s option rather than Sara Lee’s—which is actually one of the highest sodium slices on the market.
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