Does bread make you fat, or not?

Another controversial subject that I am going to definitively clear up at this point.

Question: So does eating bread (or grains in general) make you fat?

Answer: Maybe.

Sorted. Now on to the next topic… no I’m just kidding. Read on.

Sometimes I get annoyed. A bit like what I posted in the IIFYM section, there’ll be a conversation about dieting or weight loss and people will come out with these blanket statements about “the ONLY way to lose weight is to eat completely clean, stop eating bread and grains…” and so forth. Absolute GARBAGE.

Like we talked about already, if for example you require 2500 calories to maintain your current (obese) weight, and about 1800 to maintain your healthy goal weight… and then you actually consume 1800 calories (with reasonable macro ratios) on a regular basis… you are going to lose weight. How could you not?

Personally my favourite meal of the day is the massive bowl of cereal I have every morning, and sometimes again in the evening for supper. That’s grains, people. Wheat mostly. Also I might have a few (up to 4) slices of toast during the day because I like toast.

It aint making ME fat.

So the possible answers to the question are as follows:

  • No, as long as It Fits Your Macros.
  • Yes, if eating it pushes you into excessive calorie intake.

So sometimes I would get annoyed because… let’s use a bit of a stereotype of an overweight or obese office worker who isn’t training or otherwise active. Let’s say 2 slices of toast for breakfast, one of those fancy coffees and a muffin / donut / cake at morning tea, let’s say a salad roll  at lunch because you’re trying to be good, and a 600ml bottle of cola, chocolate bar in the afternoon for a pick-me-up and then how about takeaway from the chicken & chips shop for dinner? Ooh and a couple of chocolate biscuits while watching tv later on.

You’re gonna tell me it’s the TOAST that’s the problem here? Or maybe it’s the salad roll?

People are going to get all offended saying “oh, you assume all fat people eat so unhealthy? you’re horrible!” but really, that’s a pretty normal description of modern eating habits. By the way did I mention I used to work in I.T for 13 years? It’s not like I’ve never been outside of a gym and observed how things happen in the real world. Actually now that I think about it, that example is not too far off MY eating habits in my early – mid 20s. When I was fat.

Clearly the hypothetical person in this example is going to be consuming way too many calories (although not really due to eating a huge amount of food, just poor choices that come with lots of calories for little nutritional value). I always have to point out though, some people are overweight due to under eating, so when they think “I’ll have to cut out bread next” (because they’ve already cut everything else out and still aren’t losing any more weight) they only end up running on even less fuel and causing further damage to their metabolism and hormone balance.

Here’s the catch though. 

Speaking of hormone balance, there is a third possible answer that is a bit of a wildcard and that is dietary intolerance.

Now, I’m always going to be an IIFYM guy at heart, and I believe that (in the vast majority of cases) all diets either succeed or fail based on total amount of calories consumed. So if you were to cut out bread and lose weight, it isn’t because “bread makes you fat”, it is because by cutting out bread you reduced your overall calorie intake to a more appropriate amount.

But what if you actually are dialling in the right amount of calories, hitting your macros and training in an appropriate manner for an hour every day… and STILL not making good progress? Something else has gotta be up, and it is quite likely that what is up is a dietary intolerance resulting in an increase of stress hormones that promote fat storage – even if you are not consuming excessive calories.

If this is the situation you are in, doing everything else right but still not seeing the results you would expect, I would suggest that you might want to try cutting out breads and grains and see if it makes a difference. Better yet, actually get tested for intolerances.

For everyone else though, IIFYM.

Update: Here’s a link to a study on the usefulness of a low-calorie diet with or without bread in the treatment of overweight/obesity. As you can see, they found that cutting out bread only made people a lot more likely to drop out and quit their diet.

If you can hit your targets easily with your choice of foods, you’ll be able to stick with the plan and be successful.

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1 thought on “Does bread make you fat, or not?”

  1. Hormonal imbalances and sundry health conditions aside this is the absolute truth: eating too much food and not moving enough will make a person fat. Bottom line. End of story. Even if you are a sofa vegetable and do nothing else, eating very little calories will cause you to lose weight. Anorexics know this for sure. You must eat to maintain your body mass and aside from a few genetic freaks (aka lucky folks indeed) the more body mass you have, the more you have to eat to maintain said body mass. I had an operation over a year ago and could not eat a blessed thing. I lost 20 lbs immediately.

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