The Lose Weight Diet Blog

100% whole wheat bread is good about 10% of the time.

February 19, 2007
Filed under: Diet & Nutrition — TheLoseWeightDiet @ 5:01 pm

Back when I first started learning about diet and nutrition, I heard a lot about “good” carbs and “bad” carbs. Good means complex, bad means simple. The difference between the two lies mostly in how they are digested. Good carbs (such as vegetables) digest slowly, bad carbs (such as sugar) digest quickly.

In the war between good and bad carbs, something I came across over and over again were lists of which carbs were good, and which were bad. Back when the low carb diet was even more popular than it is today, everyone and their grandma wrote their own good carb/bad carb list.

For the most part, these lists were fine and good. People learned that brown rice is better than white rice. Sweet potatoes are better than white potatoes. And whole wheat bread is better than white bread.

Wait… hold it right there.

Upon learning that whole wheat bread was the better bread, I was first in line at my grocery store the next day to pick up some whole wheat bread. No more “bad” bread for me. So, I walked down the bread aisle… white bread, more white bread, more white bread, wait, here we go… whole wheat bread!

I bought it. I ate it. I bought more. I ate more. Every single piece of bread I ate from that point on was whole wheat. I felt good knowing I was eating the “better” food.

Cut to a little while later. Whole wheat bread wasn’t on the “good” carb lists anymore. See, it had now been replaced by “100%” whole wheat bread. Oh no, it seems as if the lists I’ve been reading weren’t specific enough. Apparently, the whole wheat bread I was currently eating may not have been 100%. Who knew there was anything less than 100%?

So, I went back to the store. White bread, white bread, whole wheat bread, ah, here we go… 100% whole wheat bread. NOW I got the right one. Screw you white bread, and screw you too ordinary whole wheat bread, you’ve both been replaced by the much more healthy 100% whole wheat bread.

Cut to a little while later. This was when I learned the point of this post. Just like there are “good” and “bad” carbs, there also happens to be “good” and “bad” whole wheat bread… and the “100%” has nothing to do with it.

In order to understand the difference, the first thing you need to do is ignore that “100%” part. Just ignore it completely. It means nothing to you. Think of it more like a marketing slogan than a nutritional fact. You know what, just ignore the entire front side of the package of bread altogether. There’s nothing important there anyway.

What you need to do is turn all of your attention to the back. Specifically, the ingredients. This is where you will find out if you really have selected the “good” whole wheat bread.

To help show the difference between “good” and “bad,” here is the list of ingredients on a package of one brand’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread:

“Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Gluten, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Cracked Wheat, Salt, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Molasses, Raisin Juice Concentrate, Ethoxylated Mono-And Diglycerides Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Honey, Soy Lecithin.”

Here is the list of ingredients on the back of a package of another bread from the same brand, this time called Natural 100% Whole Wheat Bread:

Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Reduced Iron, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Folic Acid], Water, Cracked Wheat, Whole Wheat Flour, Yeast, Barley, Honey, Fructose, Wheat Gluten, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Wheat Bran, Malt, Ethoxylated Mono-And Diglycerides, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Caramel Color, Whey, Soy Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Soy Lecithin, Nonfat Milk.”

And now, here are the ingredients on the back of the package of whole wheat pita bread I ate today:

Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Yeast, Salt, Calcium Propionate

Catch any differences? I bet you did. Some of the ingredients that stand out the most in the first two are High Fructose Corn Syrup and Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil. Both are junk. The second bread also lists Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour, which is almost like saying “Borderline Fake Whole Wheat Bread.”

These are things you do NOT want to see anywhere near the list of ingredients of the whole wheat bread you buy. This of course will eliminate about 90% of the whole wheat breads on the market for you, because 90% of them contain one or more of these ingredients. And, as you can see from the first two breads, the fact that it says “100% whole wheat bread” or “natural” on the package means very little.

In fact, I was in my grocery store yesterday, and knowing I was going to blog about this today, I took a minute in the bread aisle to check ingredients. Literally every single 100% whole wheat bread in the store contained High Fructose Corn Syrup.

So, now that you know all about the “bad” whole wheat breads, you may be wondering what brands make up the 10% of the “good” breads. Interestingly enough, I don’t have any brands to list for you off the top of my head. The brand I eat is just some small local brand that you won’t find anywhere else except for a few small stores in my neighborhood.

Now, while it’s possible that you may be able to find your own “good” small local whole wheat bread brand near you, there is one place where you’re almost guaranteed to find one… a health food store.

Most (if not all) of the breads you find in your grocery store will contain one or more of the “bad” ingredients mentioned before. The breads in a health food store are made specifically to be the complete opposite of those junky breads.

You’ll still want to double check the ingredients of the whole wheat bread before you buy it, but your chances of finding a “good” bread in a health food store are MUCH higher than finding one in a grocery store.

And, just so you know, your bread’s ingredients do not have to identically match my bread’s ingredients in order to be “good.” For example, some organic whole wheat breads will have a huge list of stuff in it that mine doesn’t have and it will still be perfectly fine.

You’re mainly checking to make sure certain things are NOT in it. Specifically, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, and any mention of the words “Unbleached” and/or “Enriched.” If you do spot something on there that looks a little funny, feel free to come home and look that ingredient up before you buy it or eat it. Or, leave a comment here with the ingredients and I’ll take a peek at it.

In conclusion (it took me 5 minutes to come up with a phrase to start this sentence with, by the way), whenever you see 100% whole wheat bread on some kind of healthy food list, just keep in mind that this is the additional explanation that is meant to go with it.

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45 Responses to “100% whole wheat bread is good about 10% of the time.”

  1. Leslie Huntley Says:

    That’s why I always shop at whole foods for that kind of stuff.

  2. Karen Olga Says:

    Thanks for clearing that up. I had a question about bread with yeast vs. without. Is one healthier for your body? I just want to be healthy in every aspect, that goes for food quality. I was wondering if you had any insights. Thanks

  3. August Says:

    Is HFCS any worse (or better) for you than sugar? I haven’t come across any studies that suggest one is better than the other. I’ve seen random nutritionists on TV say to avoid HFCS, but they never offer any reasons behind it.

  4. TheLoseWeightDiet Says:

    Leslie, that’s definitely a good idea.

    Karen, that’s actually something I’ve never really heard much about. As far as I know (and again I’ve never really heard much about it) I don’t think there is anything unhealthy about it unless you have some kind of yeast allergy/intolerance.

    August, from everything I’ve read, high fructose corn syrup appears to be no better or worse than any other sugar. There are some sources claiming that it is indeed worse, but most of these claims lack enough real proof to back them up. Until more is known, they currently appear to be just about equal.

  5. Ann Says:

    The best source for whole wheat bread is your own bread machine. I have been making good whole wheat bread with lots of different flours that come out really well. It works best if you use 1 cup of white flour and 3 cups of whole wheat. And adding a tablespoon of wheat gluten per cup of flour helps a lot too.

  6. Kate Says:

    After noticing that the wheat bread I was eating had more calories than the white bread my husband eats, I thought I’d do the in-between: Whole Grain White Bread (Country Kitchen). I will be checking the ingredient list when I get home, but any thoughts there?

  7. TheLoseWeightDiet Says:

    Ann, making your own is a good idea too, and not just for bread, but for as many foods as you can.

    Kate, I’ve heard about this new “whole grain white bread” stuff. I don’t know too much about it, but it appears to be better than regular white bread, but still worse than regular whole wheat bread. It’s kind of like the white bread company’s way of making their not-so-good bread appear slightly better. I’d also bet you’ll find some of the stuff mentioned in this post on its ingredient list. Keep an eye out.

  8. Ann Says:

    Home cooking is the easiest way to control what’s in your food and how much you’re served. It’s one way to know you won’t be eating any high fructose corn syrup or preservatives, etc. And it costs less than eating out or buying prepared foods.

  9. TheLoseWeightDiet Says:

    Ann, I completely agree.

  10. Suzanne Clark Says:

    I have been following Dr. Oz’ weight-loss book and what you say is true. I was eating the Arnold breads and realized the high-fructose corn syrup. I found that the Weight Watchers whole wheat bread products do not contain high fructose corn syrup. That may help in advising people and also their products are every where. Thanks, Suzanne

  11. JJ Says:

    I have been eating Arnold’s bread for a while now, and just noticed the ingredients on the back just because i read this article. I checked all the breads, most had the bad stuff in it. But one stood out, and that was a Sara Lee whole wheat bread that had all the ‘good’ stuff. So i’ll get that next time. But anyways, my question is what is bad about “High Fructose Corn Syrup” and “Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil”. Is there enough of these ingredients in the bread to make a significant difference in your overall diet? Have there been any scientific studies? I eat a sandwich for lunch every day with lean meat, etc.. so I would like to know if the bread i’m eating it harmful to my diet, since the whole reason im eating the sandwich is to be healthy!

  12. TheLoseWeightDiet Says:

    JJ, partially hydrogenated soybean oil is a form of trans fat. Soybean oil by itself isn’t such a bad thing, it’s the hydrogenation process (or in this case partial hydrogenation) that removes any value it had and leaves you with a product that is higher in saturated/trans fat.

    High fructose corn syrup is just a form of processed sugar. Some people claim it’s worse than regular sugars, some claim it’s equal. Either way, at best, it’s sugar.

    Will either of them hurt your chances of losing weight? Probably not at all. As long as calorie intake is what it should be, they probably won’t matter. However, for health purposes, they are things you’d probably want to avoid.

  13. kitty Says:

    thx 4 the advice i heard this over the radio that wheat bread can be as bad as white bread but u cleared it up its all about the ingredients, its sad because this is the kind of bread they give in hospitals, thx

  14. Heidi Says:

    I had read studies on High Fructose Corn Syrup that said that basically the reason it is bad is because it stops the body registering satiety. It blocks the signals that say stop eating which is supposedly why kids that drink a lot of soda can be obese. Also I am English and when I first came here hated the bread because it all tasted sweet and I couldn’t understand why. I don’t think I grew up with bread with sugar in it although things may be different now. Unfortunately I have become accustomed to it though it prefer without sugar and I prefer what i call chunky substance type brown bread, which i’ve only found at farmers markets.

  15. Robert Craven Says:

    The finess of the flour is critical. The new Supergrind is the worst, stone ground is okay, and cracked wheat is the best. Less grinding means slower conversion to glucose in your bloodestream, i.e. “good”.

  16. Julie Says:

    Hi, Thanks for the information. Is there a whole wheat bread on the market today that you can suggest? What do you use? I am too busy to make my own wheat bread. Thanks Alot Julie

  17. Dan Says:

    About the only shelf bread that I found that seems to be the one with the least of the “bad three” is one of Roman Meal’s formula breads: 100% Whole Grain Bread. Be careful, there is another Roman Meal wheat bread that has some of the ingredients we seek to shun. I went through bread after bread after bread at Kroger and this is the only shelf bread the “passed” in terms of of truly 100% whole grain wheat breads. Your next best bet would be a specialty food store that sells organic products and that type of stuff.

  18. danielle Says:

    Thanks a bunch for the info. I’ve heard this before, but didn’t get the specifics until now. Good post.

  19. robert sherlock Says:

    GOD??????, Please excuse me, I do not normally start a sentence with profanity. But I have really had it. I really, really want to eat better. But it is just so hard to do so, or so it seems. I switched to a whole grain bread the other day, then I read this blog. Then I read the ingredients, there is was HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN CRAP. Commercial grocery stores seem to sale only unhealthy food. They do have or at least I thought they sold some genuinly healthy foods I would actually like. Like Adam’s natural peanut butter with no salt. NOw someone is going to read this and tell me it’s unhealthy. Just EXACTLY, where is one grocery store that sales only good food?

  20. allison Says:

    the only bread that contains no flour is EZEKIAL BREAD this bread will not raise blood sugar levels why because flour raises blood sugar levels . but ezekial bread is not the best tasting bread but u will not gain weight and as far as cereal goes kashi go lean is the best i eat that or either ezekial cereal just found that this week at the health food store.-Allison

  21. anne Says:

    thanks for the info..wanna ask, wat bout french loaf?is dat good? Doesnt seem to have any sugar in it..

  22. marla Says:

    In response to the hfcs, it IS worse, what it does is, your body cant recognize it as a suger, so your body doesnt produce insulin to break it down and it turns directly to fat. Also, your brain doesnt recognize it and wont sent signals to your body to make you stop the intake. that is why you can see some people chugging an etire 2 liter of pop.
    The companies love them because the product is cheaper to buy and dont break down like reg. suger. (they have a longer shelf life.. thus saving them money.-Just like the use of trans fats) what makes me angry is you have no choice its in everything!! and some people dont have the money the go to health food stores. I know all of this info because i do alot of reading.

  23. marla Says:

    also, hfcs has an additive the can actually make you addicted to it… so you want more and more. :-)

  24. mrpower28 Says:

    I think its best to get yourself a Bread Machine and make your own bread. Also I make my own ketchup with a food processor. I Also make my own juices with my Juice Man. Make your own stuff and I think thats the key.

  25. Xetaprime Says:

    I’ve struggled with this also, but then I found Rubschlager bread!!! At my local supermarket, Publix. It comes in cocktail size pieces or full size. As Sunflower, soy, Rye and pumpernickel all with virtually no xtra un-needed ingredients!!! It’s an amazing ‘old world’ bread. Very dense and heavy. And cheap for bread. About $2.19 right now.

    Best wishes!

  26. Emily Bernhardt Says:

    Dr. Gott No Flour No Sugar Diet is a challenge – I need a bread – whole wheat NO flour of anykind – does anyone have any suggestions – and where do you purchase. HELP!!!!!

  27. Loaf Mass, Old Skool « Pagan Godspell Says:

    [...] – even “whole wheat” store-bought bread, and even when it really is whole wheat and not just a pretty corporate lie*, isn’t the same. Wonder Bread is neither a wonder nor bread (though the now universally [...]

  28. The big trans fat lie on your food’s nutrition facts label. Says:

    [...] tricked, and avoid eating that food. I actually mentioned this briefly when explaining another lie, 100% whole wheat bread. The key to finding out for sure if there is any trans fat in your food even when the label reads [...]

  29. Sophia Says:

    August, Check out the material on HFCS out there. It is insidiously present in an incredible array of prepared foods, bascially adding calories that are useless, but cheaper for the manufacturer as I understand it, than sugar. I may never look on the site again since I was looking for a particular product when I stumbled across it, so you may reply if you wish to me directly at SKL_J@yahoo.com

  30. Rachel Says:

    I found this blog post by google, and I have to agree that I completely agree.

    It was so annoying to go to Publix and find 15 brands of bread, but only 2 that did NOT have high fructose corn syrup.

    It’s horrible because people think they’re getting good nutrition, but they’re not. I don’t understand why they have to put HFCS in everything. Whole wheat bread isn’t supposed to have a super-wonderful taste. If I preferred taste over nutrition, I would go for a different flavor.

  31. Brian Says:

    Skip the sandwich; eat brown rice, chicken, and almonds. every meal. over and over. until you look like chuck norris and christie brinkley. seriously. do it.

    I think this bread conversation is not looking at the big picture. Having a little bit of simple sugar (2-4grams) does not really matter when determining whether a bread is healthy.

    This conversation is really about sources of carbohydrate. All carbohydrate (except fiber, which isn’t digested-go figure it makes you dump) is broken down into single sugar molecules. The thing that is important is how long this process takes,which in turn effect how fast and how far blood sugar rises. This in turn effects how the body processes, consumes, and stores protein and fat.

    Not to be too technical, but foods are generally better if they have a lesser or more gradual affect on blood sugar levels. A lower glycemic index tells us a food tends to cause less dramatic swings in blood sugar. (google “glycemic load”)

    Basically, eat carbs that have a low glycemic index that are as close to their natural state as possible. Wheat bread is good. Oats, Bran, Wheat Germ, and buckwheat are better.

    Oh! I almost forgot! The secret to weight loss! Burn more calories than you take in. Stop eating so much, fatty. Just joking. I care about you. Eat less, more often (300 calories, in perfect 40-40-20 servings, 5 times a day. no carbs after 5pm) 1500 calories a day. google “40-40-20″. You’ll look like an olsen twin in six months.

  32. Sugar More Addictive Than Cocaine « Hormonal Pregnant Woman Says:

    [...] of your usual foods without refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, or corn syrup. Start with whole wheat bread and tell me what you come up [...]

  33. WaitingToBeDiagnosed Says:

    Not being an expert, just started to read up and connect the dots…

    Whole wheat contains already more fructose than white flour. When there is more fructose than glucose, the food becomes problematic for people with fructose malabsorbtion (intolerance). Now imagine adding more Fructose through HFCS…

    If you feel you pass considerably more gas when eating whole wheat with HFCS – similar as when you drink apple juice or eat apples – consider whether you may suffer from some degree of fructose malabsorbtion.

    Now how likely is that a random person is affected and what is the impact on the whole population? On the web numbers of 10-25% (white caucasian) are cited for lactose intolerance and of those alone 75% have also some form of fructose intolerance. There is a huge(!!) variance to the degree the people are affected – a fraction only is clinical relevant. But it makes one wonder what good HFCS does considering the prevalence (did not see any figures for coincidence of lactose/fructose for non whites. Lactose intolerance is way higher there, but don’t know about connection to fructose mal-absorbtion)

  34. Terraine Smith Says:

    Hello!
    I think your website is fantasic, but I have the opposite problem. I would like to gain some weight. I am a 65yr old woman, weight 124, 5ft 63/4 in. I am usually high in energy, in fact, I burn up more than I put in. I feel quite tire here lately. I am going to try your food, diet, advise in the opposite direction, but will stick to the basic of what you have showing.

    Thanks again.

  35. Tammy Says:

    Thanks for the info. When I saw there was HFCS in my whole wheat bread I actually got angry, then found your site. I found a new bread that is actually good for my family. Thanks again.

  36. Ellie Says:

    Love all your stuff; ran across your websites today searching for diet/nutrition info., and really appreciate what you are doing to help offset all the madness that is going on out there in the grocery store aisles. Thank you ***

  37. Tonja Says:

    Thanks fo the information. This is a fabulous website. I am learning so much.

  38. Selwyn Williams Says:

    Buy a breadmaker, I did, now I know what’s in my bread.

  39. mary Says:

    Hi. I am curious about this fructose stuff. I have 100% Arnolds Whole Wheat bread. I don’t see high-fructose corn syrup on the list. I do say fructose on the list. Is this the same thing?

  40. Brenda Dawson Says:

    Enjoyed your blog on whole wheat bread. I have a question for you. What is the difference between whole wheat bread and whole wheat whole grain bread?

    Thanks.
    Brenda

  41. Jen Says:

    Lots of great into here! I’m trying to eat healthier and bring down my triglycerides and cholesterol… while bringing UP my “good” cholesterol. And I could stand to lose about 15-20 pounds in the process. I’ve managed to change my diet before to affect my levels, but I’ve forgotten a lot of what I’d learned. And now I’ve been re-informed and also newly informed of the fact that I’ve likely been a HFCS ADDICT. I have always thought I was addicted to carbs – maybe not. Maybe it’s always just been the dad-blamed corn syrup! Arrrgggg… Well, get behind thee, HFCS! ;)

    ~Jen

  42. erin Says:

    i’m interested in making my own bread. my husband has had a number of digestive issues including ulcerative colitis, and now, pouchitis. The pouchitis we’ve decided (this time around anyway), is largely due to uncontrolled yeast growth in his intestines. We know sugar feeds the yeast and we know yeast, as an ingredient, would also contribute to the problem.

    My question is, does he have to avoid bread altogether? If we made our own, could we avoid a bread that breaks down into “sugar” in the end?

    we’ve been avoiding HFCS for a long while now but are realizing that’s not enough for him. being that he eats a fairly strict diet anyway, he struggles with losing TOO much weight as well. we recognize a super low-carb diet that avoids all breads will only worsen this particular aspect of his situation. Any advice??

    thanks. erin

  43. Baking Grandma Says:

    Make your own! I just put together two loaves of whole wheat no-fat bread. It used whole wheat flour, yeast, honey, no-fat yogurt, salt, a bit of baking soda and water. When I’m done there will be a trace amount of fat from the cold-pressed olive oil, no hydrogenated oils, no soybean oils… no HFCS, no sugar…

    It comes out moist and tasty (guessing the yogurt helps) and a lot better for you than the store-bought stuff! :)

  44. kenji Says:

    Hi, LOVE the Lose weight diet plan! It’s all the stuff I already knew but need to be reminded of whenever I’m tempted to believe I can “eat only steak and still lose weight” or whatever the latest get skinny quick scheme is. I digress.

    If you are eating any kind of bread that has any give to it, you are most likely eating some kind of sugar. To get nice and fluffy and springy bread you need yeast and yeast, a living organism of sorts, needs sugar to feed off of to get extra foamy. Sounds kinda gross doesn’t it?

    Anyway, a good bread to get is eziekel bread (at health food stores) or, as some have mentioned, make your own and use honey instead of plain sugar or corn syrup. Best of all, don’t eat bread that is leavened. Eat something like the pita bread mentioned in the article (just a little fluffy and springy) or tortillas or that wonderful lentil flour thing (called…?) from India.
    Thanks for the great article!

  45. Sonya Says:

    Hey there,

    Great info on your blog!!
    I’ve always bought Arnold 100% whole wheat bread cos I looked at the ingredients and it had no HFCS written on it.. I have it in front of me right now.. and the ingredients say :Whole wheat flour, water, sugar yeast, wheat gluten, Soybean oil, Wheat bran, Salt, monoglycerides, calcium propionate, Datem, calcium sulfate, Soy Flour, Etholyxated MOno and Di glycerides, Soy Lecithin.

    What do you think about these ingredients? I’ve also heard that Soy lecithin is not the greatest ingredient to be consuming.. what’s your opinion???

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