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Diabetes and bread…
So many questions come up about good ‘ol bread. And not surprisingly because it’s a staple food that we’ve all grown up on. Toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, a side of bread for dinner, it’s a pretty common practice right?
But if you’re diabetic, should bread get the cut? Is it okay to eat? Are there certain types of breads that are better than others?
These are all great questions so let’s dig in and go over this together now. If you have any questions, just leave them at the bottom of the post and we’ll chat about it. 🙂
What Kind Of Bread Is Best For A Diabetic?
We’ve recently covered the types of flours that are best for diabetes, so before we dig in and talk about breads, let’s briefly look at the flour cheat sheet.
See how everything above coconut flour goes up from 30 g net carbs and above, which is really getting up there.
In reality, the best breads for you to eat are ones made from flaxseed, almond, chickpea or coconut flour, which are a bit more difficult to come by.
Of course, the simplest way to overcome this is to make your own. But, we understand that not everyone wants to make their own bread. So thankfully, there are quite a number of companies that supply great low carb bread options you can buy.
Whole Wheat & Rye Bread and Diabetes
It’s often recommended that you eat whole grains instead of the white stuff and it’s true, whole grains are a better choice because they are complex carbs, rather than simple carbs.
But, when you take the whole grain and grind it into a flour, it changes the way your body digests it. This mainly happens because the bulky fiber component of the grain gets broken down, meaning less digestion – for you as a diabetic that means higher blood sugar spikes.
Have you heard of the glycemic index before?
“The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating.” Source
High GI foods rapidly effect blood sugar, while low GI foods have a slow digestion and absorption and produce a more gradual rise in blood sugar. Below 55 is considered low GI. So the lower a food is the better, and the higher it is the faster it affects blood sugar and the worse it is for you as a diabetic.
So now we can look at the GI of both a whole wheat kernel and whole wheat flour as an example. Whole wheat kernels are 30 (low GI) and whole wheat flour is 71 (high GI).
What this really means is that whole wheat bread really isn’t that great.
Your best bet when it comes to rye bread is pumpernickel bread – it’s made from whole rye grains and is a low GI of 41-46. But, pumpernickel bread isn’t exactly a sandwich type bread, and has it’s own pungent flavor, too.
Let’s check out some more GI levels:
- Normal rye bread 57-78
- Wheat whole grain 68-69
- Wheat white bread 71
- 100% wheat white bread 85
So these are all high GI and aren’t good options.
Sourdough Bread and Diabetes
Sourdough bread is made by traditional methods, where the starter dough is fermented to provide the rise in the bread instead of yeast and sugar. Surprisingly, this bread making method is much better for us.
Making sourdough produces beneficial gut bacteria that help with digestion, and this has a strong impact on how it then influences the blood sugar response.
As a consequence, sourdough breads are lower in GI:
- sourdough rye bread 48
- 80% barley bread made via sourdough 53-66
- sourdough wheat bread 54
So having a slice of sourdough is going to be a better choice than most other breads.
But there is a bit more to the story.
Does Cutting Bread Help Diabetes?
The thing is, GI is important, but then you have to consider your overall carbohydrate intake as well.
Here are some of the above breads with carb quantity:
- Pumpernickel bread – 1 slice 26 g = 12.3 g carbs, 1.7 g fiber, 10.6 g net carbs (Total carbs minus fiber = net carbs)
- Oat bran bread – 1 slice 30 g = 11.9 g carbs, 1.4 g fiber, 10.5 g net carbs
- Buckwheat bread – 1 slice 47 g = 20 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 18 g net carbs
- Sourdough wheat bread – 1 slice 57 g = 29 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 26 g net carbs
- Sprouted grain bread 1 slice 34 g = 15 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 12 g net carbs
As you can see an average piece of bread is going to be anywhere from 11.9 to 20 g carbs.
Please pin or share this info to help others; then keep reading. 🙂
One slice of bread is considered one serve, or one carb count and is around 15 g carbs on average.
While that’s not too bad, if you can keep your carbohydrate intake lower overall each day, you’ll be better off for it – meaning, yes, cutting ‘traditional’ forms of bread can help diabetes – you will see lower blood sugar and A1c levels.
This might not be the same opinion that you read elsewhere, or even the guidelines your dietitian might give you. Often they say 30 or 45 g carbs per meal is fine, some of them even recommend up to 70-80 g carbs per meal. But in our experience, (and what the research shows) many people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes get the best results when they stick to eating that many carbs per day, not per meal.
Eating 50-80 g carbs per day might sound drastic but it is totally possible. And you can still have bread – if it’s the right kind.
To answer the question – does cutting bread help diabetes?
Well, if you’re cutting the ‘traditional’ types of bread, the types you’ll find at the supermarket, then yes, the less you consume it, the lower your blood sugar and A1C will be.
Making Low Carb Breads At Home
Baking breads at home is going to be your best option. And it’s actually very easy to do – if you know how.
For instance, we have a wholemeal bread where you put all the ingredients into a food processor, blend, pour into a loaf pan and bake. Easy prep, easy cook. And best of all, it’s just 1 gram net carbs per slice!
Since low carb breads use almond flour, flaxseed meal, coconut flour, and sesame flour, it can be an expensive trial and error because you can’t use low carb flours in the same way as you do regular wheat or gluten free flours.
That’s why we created the Low Carb Breads Masterclass for our members – it takes the guesswork out of making low carb breads at home and provides over 30 recipes and cooking classes to choose from. You can whiz up low carb breads you and the family enjoy, without wasting any ingredients!
Another example is our 3 Minute Bun. It is ZERO net carbs and can be loaded with any of your favorite fillings.
Is bread better than cereal for a diabetic?
This is another question that often gets asked and the answer is yes. If you had to choose, a slice of bread over most breakfast cereals would be a better choice any day because most cereals are way too high in sugar.
Of course, not all breakfast cereals are made alike, but generally speaking, bread will contain less carbs, and far less sugar (and salt) than most common breakfast cereals.
Low Carb Bread Options
Low Carb Breads at Local Stores
These can be harder to find, but since low carb is becoming more popular, if you look around there are more options available.
For instance, in the US and Canada, Walmart sells ThinSlim Foods Love-the-Taste Low Carb Bread Plain, 2pack and Joseph’s Bakery Mini Pita Bread, both of which are 7 grams carbs per slice/bread.
In the UK, Tescon sells Hovis Lower Carb Seeded Bread, which is around 9 grams carbs per slice – a little bit lower than regular bread.
In Australia, Aldi sells an 85% lower carb bread, which is just 5 grams per slice.
Low Carb Bread Options From Amazon
Here are some low carb bread options from our Amazon store, just to give you some examples.
Great Low Carb Bread Co has loaves that have just 1 g net carbs per serve. These cost around $7.99 but adding shipping of $9.24 soon hikes the price right up. Low Carb Bread Co has a low carb rye loaf, low carb hot dog buns, low carb hamburger buns and even makes bagels, again you’re looking at around $6-7 per pack.
LC-Low carb Sandwich Loaf is $12.58 per 25 slice loaf. It’s a spongy sandwich loaf, which is how most of us like bread. And it’s just 1 g net carbs per slice. In reality it breaks down to around 50c per slice, which isn’t too bad, but add shipping on top and it will hike up the price.
The same goes for this low carb pita bread. It’s a good price at just $3.99 for 6 pita breads, but then the shipping is $11, which seems a bit ridiculous.
Then there’s Mama Lupes Low Carb Tortillas $11.98 per 12.5 oz/ 360 g pack, 3 g net carbs per tortilla
You could try using Bob’s Red Mill Low Carb Bread Mix – that will cost you around $5-6 per pack. But once cooked it will end up costing more once you add eggs etc. 1 slice comes in at around 5 g carbs per slice.
Low Carb Bread Options From Netrition
Netrition is another great online store to purchase low carb goods from. If you live in the US, they have a flat rate shipping cost of $5.99, which is much cheaper than Amazon. They also ship worldwide, just make sure to check the shipping guide.
Another great thing is their prices for items are much cheaper too. For example, remember the Mama Lupes Low Carb Tortillas from Amazon were $11.98?
Well, you can get them from Netrition for just $3.89 per pack!
The MiRico Low Carb Bread is $6.39 per loaf, with 3 g net carbs per serve, so if you buy a few loaves at a time it won’t cost anymore in shipping so it makes the cost fairly reasonable. MiRico also have low carb bagels, and low carb tortillas too.
When it comes to choosing bread basically you just have to shop around, but as you can see there are low carb breads you can buy to help solve the diabetic bread dilemma!
You can also just live without bread. Again, cutting out breads may sound extreme but it is possible – we know of many people who do it.
To emphasize the alternatives, making low carb breads at home will be your best option long term – so learn how to do it – join as a VIP Member today and take our Low Carb Breads Masterclass!
Hello I have just read all your information on Breads. I have been Diabetic for 25 years it is for the most part managed but it is very difficult. Because I have severe stomach problems I cannot digest Wheat, Oats most grains because of the fiber in them. I take vitamins to try and replace some of the nutrition’s that I need. Its not the best but I have no other choice. I have not been able to eat Vegetables or fruits for the same reason. Do you have any idea which of these suggestions of breads would be the lowest in Fiber? Not sure if that’s that is the correct question. I have had about 80% of my stomach removed because of the Stomach problems which adds to the problem with any fiber. Probably a weird question but I thought I would try?? Thank You!!!
Emily - Dietitian (MS, RD)
I would encourage you to work with a registered dietitian to develop an eating plan that manages both your stomach concerns and blood sugar levels. Particularly when we are talking about ‘blood sugar friendly bread’ we are looking for something that is high in fiber to negate some of the blood sugar rise, so you may find that bread is a no-go based on what you describe. Are you able to tolerate lower fiber vegetables like cucumbers, peppers or tomatoes? A registered dietitian can make specific fiber and supplement recommendations to ensure that you are covering anything that might be missing in your diet.
I am gluten intolerant, you never explained the alternative flours you can use. What the benefits etc are, like you have with the other flours. I alway feel like other people with this problem we are always forgotten, as if we do not matter, but there are a lot of us out there wanting help and advice just the same. Maggie
Dr Jedha - Nutritionist (PhD)
Hi Margaret, you can view some info on flours over here that you may find helpful. Certainly we don’t forget people who are gluten free, as all our meal plans are gluten free. But thanks for the feedback, we’ll keep it in mind with future food info. 🙂
Do you have any Carbs and GI info on Sourdough Spelt Bread?
Jedha: Nutritionist (MNutr)
This info here on Sourdough may be helpful.
Can you send me a diabetic cookbook. My fiancé just found out he’s diabetic and he tries to eat healthy but he loves bread. So a cookbook would be helpful if there’s one to offer.
Jedha: Nutritionist (MNutr)
Sorry Vickie, we do not send cookbooks
Thank you for sharing this great information. I was told by my endocrinologist that I am pre diabetic and my cholesterol is high so watching carbs is important for me. I like sour dough bread so that’s a good choice for me!! Is sour dough bread gluten free?!!
Emily - Dietitian (MS, RD)
Sourdough bread is not gluten free, it’s just made a bit differently (fermented) compared to ‘regular’ bread. Keep in mind that sourdough bread does still contain a hefty amount of carbs, so while it might be a better choice compared to white bread, it should still be consumed in moderation if looking for control your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Natures own wheat is 11 grams /slice and its inexpensive and carried at most stores. Tastes like regular bread . Lower in carbs than any other bread on the shelf.
I am pre-diabetic but I do like bread! I make my own sourdough and I usually restrict myself to 2 slices per day.
When I have baked a loaf I slice it all and put it in the freezer taking slices out when required.
I have heard that freezing bread reduces its GI value. Is that true?
I have any natures own life hundred percent whole grain and it’s sugar free
Emily - Dietitian (MS, RD)
Double check the number of carbs in that product – anything made with whole grains is probably wheat based, and that can mean it’s actually a lot higher in carbs than you would think!
Thank you for all the info.
It’s in the freezer section