I remember doing a nutritional consultation for a lady once who confidently announced that she’d eliminated all white rice, bread, potatoes and so forth from her diet, clarifying this by stating that, “White is the devil.” And she isn’t the only one who thinks this way. I have even heard people talking about how they switched to brown eggs, rather than white ones, when it is the breed of chicken that determines egg colour, not nutritional value! Well, it turns out that all the white-phobic eaters may be overstating their case just a little bit!
People are starting to realise that not all white food is bad. White potatoes and white rice especially have started to make a comeback as acceptable choices, even for those looking to lose body fat. The one thing most people seem to still agree on though, is that white bread is a no-no. Before we throw it out entirely though, let’s have a proper look at the pros and cons of white bread.
Firstly, many people like to claim that gluten is bad for you. It isn’t. There is a small percentage of the population who are gluten intolerant or coeliac. Outside of these groups, gluten is fine. If you cut it out, yes, you may lose a pound or two of water weight, but this is true of any carbohydrate, not just gluten.
There is also a perception that white bread is highly processed, even artificial. While this is somewhat true, brown bread is not actually too much better! In fact, while an organic, wholewheat loaf may be better than your average white bread, an organic, no-added-sugar white bread is probably not too different!
Finally, there is a growing recognition of the value of rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates around the time you work out. Essentially, your body’s storage of carbohydrate is depleted and replenishing it can help with recovery and muscle growth. White bread, if eaten during this post-workout period, digests rapidly enough to help with this replenishment.
I mentioned above the difference between your average white bread and a good-quality one. Rather than focus on white vs whole grain, this is what I would prefer people focus on. A poor-quality white bread with a long list of unidentifiable ingredients and tons of added sugar probably does not have a place in your healthy diet. So make it a priority to check the label and make sure that you’re not getting anything you don’t want in your loaf.
If you are looking to lose fat, fibre is your friend. It fills you up without adding a lot of caloric density to your food. Again, over-processed white loaves of bread are a poor source of fibre, meaning that they do not satisfy as much as their higher-quality counterparts. If you are prone to overeating, it is beneficial to eat plenty of more fibrous foods around the same time as your bread, to make sure you leave your meal feeling satisfied and less likely to go wrong later on.
White bread is certainly not ‘The Devil’ and it may well have a place even in the healthiest lifestyle. Just treat it like you should be treating everything else, i.e. check the label and make sure you know what you’re actually eating.
Pic by: www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos