Why Does Bread Make You Fat? It’s not Fair!

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Is going to be the next great debate of the century? Truly, will you look like a balloon if you eat too much bread? Or will there be no weight gain if you feed on bread? Where did the notion come from that you will get fat eating bread? You just about not avoid bread because it is everywhere. You have never heard of anyone dying from eating too much bread have you? Let’s look into this issue but first let’s see some history about bread.

Where did Bread come From

Bread is as old as man. It was a staple in early human civilizations. In the western part of Asia where bread was domesticated it moved from there. Bread spread  north and west to North Africa and Europe. This in turn gave rise to towns instead of the nomadic lifestyle which brought higher forms of societal organization. In ancient Egypt there are many signs of breadmaking being a staple of life. Depictions in art, remains of structures and tools used for breadmaking. There was even bread and  dough found. It is said that from antiquity that the most common form of leavening was to leave bread from the previous day. This was a sourdough starter. Pliny the elder was quoted as saying that the Gauls and Iberians used the foam skinned off beer to make a bread lighter than other peoples made.

It may have been the Greeks who invented the  the free-standing oven that a door to access. The oven could also be pre-heated. In the ancient day the early civilizations had their bread names. The Greeks had barley bread; Solon, (He was a Greek statesman, lawmaker, and poet)  declared that wheaten bread could only baked on feast days. By the 5th Century B.C. bread could be purchased in a baker’s shop, and in Rome Greek bakers showed up in the 2nd century BC, as Hellenized Asia Minor was added to Roman dominion as the province of Asia; the foreign bakers were allowed to form collegium.

Middle Ages

The bread in the Middle Ages, was not only a staple food but was apart of the table service. On the table setting was kept a stale piece of bread 6 inches by 4 inches on what was called a trencher. It was to be used as an absorbent dish. It was eaten at the end of the meal and if it wasn’t eaten it was given to the poor or fed to the dogs. In the 15th century trenchers were made of wood instead of bread. This is alarming but into the 19th century in Europe, the bread was adulterated with chalk, sawdust, alum, plaster, clay and ammonium carbonate. The government put a stop to this very unhealthy practice in 1860.

Modern Times   

wheat bread has caused weight gain

It is said that the bread-baking was a formative step in developing the modern world. This could be an overstatement. Otto Frederick Rohwedder is considered to be the  father of sliced bread; In 1912 Rohwedder started work on inventing a machine that sliced bread, but bakeries were not keen to to use it since they were concerned the sliced bread would go stale too early. It was not until 1928, when Rohwedder invented a machine that both sliced and wrapped the bread, that sliced bread caught on. A bakery in Chillicothe, Missouri was the first to use this machine to produce sliced bread. For generations the preferred bread of the rich was white and the poor feasted on wheat bread. But in the 20th century this changed as wheat bread became the bread with the higher nutritional value. White bread became the bread of the masses who were thought to be ignorant of nutrition. This was a very cold perception indeed.

In 1961 a revolutionary process called “Chorleywood Bread Process” which used the mechanical process to work the dough of the bread. It also dramatically reduced gases touching the dough which dramatically reduced the fermentation process at the expense of taste and nutrition. Now, the question of the hour can you get fat eating bread.

Fat Dwellers

The pro bread camp says that bread will not cause weight gain and that eating bread will make you fat is a myth. But they do say threatening bread in excess will make you gain weight just as eating too many calories no matter what the food will make you gain weight. Bread has the same amount of calories per ounce as protein. Whole wheat and white bread have the same amount of calories per slice. This could break the myth that wheat bread is lower in calories than white bread. Whole grains packed with fiber will leave you feeling fuller so you will eat less. This will definitely help you lose weight.

New research suggests that bread is not the cause of weight gain. In Australia 20% of women feel guilty eating bread and they are looking for healthier bread options. There was a study conducted in Australia to bust the myth that bread causes you to gain weight when you eat it.

Nutritionist Sharon Natoli says there is no evidence to prove bread causes weight gain. Wheat bread offers significant nutritional values such as fibre, B vitamins, magnesium and iron.

This question is raging in Australia as well “Does bread make you fat?”. Australian women believe that bread does make you fat. They are steering clear of the bread and 43 percent stay away from bread when they are trying to lose weight. 20 percent feel guilty when they eat bread. More than half of Australian women find the bread category overwhelming and confusing. A national study in Australia sponsored by, Bakers Delight, involving 1,000 women aged between 25 to 65 is out to disprove this perception that bread eating makes you gain weight. Bread used to be a staple in our diets but these days bread is getting a bad wrap as being a source for a bloated belly. Gluten is the main culprit behind this belief.

The research found that that more than a third of Aussie women said they are looking for better bread options with 65 per cent believing information about healthier bread alternatives should be more available. Parents are also limiting their children’s intake of bread with 15 percent of Aussie moms cutting back because they don’t want their kids to get fat from eating bread. In the 1990’s Dr. Atkins published his new “Diet Revolution” this caused concern that bread would cause people to gain weight. Other fad diets followed creating a stigma that bread will cause weight gain. The above Australian study reflected this perception that people think bread will make you fat. Nutritionist and health Expert Sharon Natoli of Food and Nutrition Australia (she was previously quoted) said the study reflects a basic misunderstanding of the real nutritional value of bread. She said that women are unaware of the long list of benefits offered by whole meal and low gi breads. She warned that gluten-free diets are more harmful because they increased blood sugar levels.

She says that the right choice of breads offers numerous health benefits including digestive health  sustained energy and an all round healthier heart mind and body sustained energy levels and all around health for mind and heart. She further states there is no evidence to support that eating bread will make a person gain weight. Studies conducted on large populations show that people who have increased intakes of whole grain foods, such as whole grain breads, are less at risk of gaining weight or gaining weight overtime. Children can benefit from bread that contains omega 3’s with the usual benefits of fiber and B vitamins. People who are concerned about heart health will want to eat breads higher in whole grain and seeds.

Sharon Natoli also said, “Bread is a food that national health authorities recommend daily as part of a healthy, balanced diet due to its important contribution to nutrient intakes, so there is no reason to feel guilty about eating bread. “While some people can find bread contributes to bloat, it is important not to mistake this for other causes of bloating and have these investigated first, before cutting bread out of your diet.”

A Case Study

“A case study of 42 year old mother of two, Angela, also found that ditching the carbs won’t make much of a difference. She completely cut out bread from her diet for a while but reported seeing no difference in her weight and felt no less bloated.”

The Other Side

Now let us look at the other side who say bread will make you gain weight if you eat it. This argument says that bread will make you fat from consuming it. If a farmer wants to fatten up his cattle he will feed them wheat products. Sumo wrestlers who want to gain weight will eat wheat products. The reason that they say bread will make you gain weight is because bread makes the hormone insulin spike and when this happens the body’s adipose fat cells swell that deposits even more fat in the body.

It is claimed that whole wheat bread is better for you than refined wheat. But this is not true. According to the side who say that eating bread will make you fat. Supposedly whole grain breads are not made from whole grains because it is a marketing ploy. The grains are pulverized to very fine flour that is easily digestible and spikes blood sugar levels as quickly as refined grains so the story goes. According to the glycemic index (measures how fast foods spike blood sugar levels) wheat bread is as high on the index as white bread. Again, wheat bread may contain more fibers and more nutrients but this does not make a difference because once it hits the system it will make the body gain weight as quickly as white bread. Wheat bread does not contain any nutrient that you cannot get in even greater amounts in other foods. There are some grain breads out there that are healthy for people who can tolerate them but wheat doesn’t fit in that category. Wheat bread even ‘heart-healthy wheat bread can lead to health problems including weight gain. There were some study references noted with these arguments but most of them were really irrelevant concerning the issue of wheat bread causing weight gain when it is consumed.

The other assertions relating to wheat bread were not supported by solid clinical evidence and  cannot be backed up by research. The assertions seem hypothetical at best with no real serious support to validate the authenticity of these assertions.

More Reasons why Bread is an Enemy of your Weight

Do you want to Gain Weight

It is said that world class tennis player Novak Djokovic eliminated bread from his diet and this is why it helped him ascend as one of the best tennis players in the world. There is no solid information to prove this is why he has became one of the top tennis players in the world.

Bread not only makes us fat but is said it can lead to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. No studies support this claim of bread causing these major health issues. So the anti-bread supporters say that historically wheat bread has caused weight gain among the masses. And overtime it has changed making it even more of a risk for people to gain weight from eating it.

Super Starch Anyone

Super starch is officially known as Amylopectin A which is a major cause for bread making people gain weight when they eat bread. It is used to make bread larger and aesthetically pleasing to look at. Here to starch is easily digested by the body which raise sugar blood levels resulting in extra poundage on your body. It means your body has to manufacture additional insulin to keep up with the extra calories but it cannot keep up. Your body is left with extra fat that accumulates around the belly.

Gut Inflamed

Research suggests that 6-7 % of the world’s population suffer from gut inflammation from eating bread because of the gluten it contains. The large amount of gluten in wheat is detrimental, and research has indicated that there is around 10 times as much gluten in wheat nowadays than there was around half a century ago. This is a  be a hypothetical conclusion. There is no solid proof to back up this statement. Gluten is supposed to cause weight gain and bread is said to contain high amounts of gluten. So, bread and belly fat seem to be a negative combination plus bread is supposed to cause many other health problems.

False Hormones     

Now, it is being said that bread contains fake hormones that cause people to gain weight. Fake hormones are chemicals that have the effects that hormones have. One of those results is for the body to gain extra body weight. This is because herbicides and pesticides which are now so liberally used when growing crops contain xenoestrogens. This has not been proven by clinical studies and at this point is purely speculative.  Xenoestrogens in women encourage the body to store fat that shows up on the hips and the thighs. In men the fat is stored and shows up around the waist. In other words men have enlarged bellies from all the fat accumulating there from these chemicals. It is said to cause gynecomastia in men which means their breasts become enlarged.    

Higher Consumption

Bread contains gliadin which is said to increase your appetite

Bread contains gliadin which is said to increase your appetite. You know what happens when you eat more you gain weight. William Davis, MD, a preventive cardiologist, has indicated that wheat eaters can put on up to 40 pounds extra per year, due to having a daily diet consisting of 400 additional calories. Gliadins make bread rise and they also make people’s appetites rise. It is claimed these chemicals will make you hungry every two hours. Honestly, this sounds like a stretch. Do you know how fast people would gain weight if they ate every two hours?

People who don’t eat bread will not experience this need to eat more and will not gain weight. Who says this is a true fact? People may be exposed to gliadins through other food sources.

If so their appetites will increase as well.

Good-looking Bread

Good-looking Bread

People like their bread to look attractive but this comes with a cost as well. Bread contains an ingredient called potassium bromate which makes the bread look round and plump. This chemical is processed through the thyroid which will slow its function down. If the thyroid slows down it will slow down the metabolism of the body. A slow metabolism leads to significant weight gain.  

The Real Conclusion

More Reasons why Bread is an Enemy of your Weight

The title of the article asks how bread makes you fat. But it seemed to make sense to present both sides of this great bread debate. Those who say bread will make you gain weight and those who say bread will not cause you to gain weight. Honestly, the reasons given for bread to cause weight gain were not clinically proven and they were not very convincing. The arguments for bread not causing weight gain were moore plausible and made more sense. Please read this article and decide for yourself.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.