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Bread – some avoid it like the plague while others can’t go a day without it. Bread seems innocent enough, but could this simple food be the reason you’re not losing weight.

Ask a staunch advocate of low carb eating or a paleo dieter what they think of bread, and you’re likely to get an earful of obscenities, combined with scornful looks and a lecture on how bread is as bad for your health as cigarettes and alcohol.

Yet refer to the United States Department of Agriculture dieting guidelines, and you’ll find that whole grains, such as bread, make up a huge portion of their eating recommendations.

How can one food divide opinion so much?

It seems a mystery, bread certainly has some nutritional clout and would appear to be perfectly acceptable as part of a healthy diet, but then there’s also a dark side to it as well.

Let’s delve into the good, the bad and the ugly of the American’s best lunchtime friend – bread.

Why Could Bread Be Bad?

The main reason why many choose to omit bread from their diets is because of the carbohydrate content.

Carbohydrates, and particularly grains are a major source of calories in the Western diet. Look at a typical person’s daily diet –

- Breakfast will invariably consist of at least one type of grain, usually in the form of toast or bagels.
- Lunch revolves around a sandwich, another bagel or wrap.
- You might not eat bread at dinner, but many folks will indulge in more afternoon sandwiches, make themselves a quick bread-based snack at work or while watching TV or eat other bread-based products.

As a trainer, when I ask clients what aspects of they diet they think need work, many reply with “I probably eat too much bread.”

It’s quite scary the amount of bread some people get through and by simply going cold turkey on bread (and eating a cold turkey salad instead of a sandwich) you could save yourself hundreds of calories every day.

The second potential reason for banning bread is to do with the way out bodies have evolved over the years. This links in with the concept of the Paleolithic diet, which is gathering quite a following.

According to the paleo movement, we’ve only been eating grains since the dawn of agriculture, around 10,000 years ago. While that may seem like an eternity, in the grand scheme of our existence on this earth, 10,000 years isn’t a long time at all.

Supposedly, our bodies don’t process grains, including wheat, very well at all. Not only can wheat potentially cause gastrointestinal stress and discomfort (as seen to a severe degree in those suffering from coeliac disease) but it also raises levels of insulin.

Insulin is the hormone that controls your blood sugar. When you eat something high in carbs, you release more insulin. This insulin helps to shuttle the carbs to your liver and muscle cells to be stored, but too much insulin is a bad thing, as it contributes to fat gain.

The other main issues with bread are the gluten and phytates it contains. Gluten can also cause damage to the gut and lead to inflammation, while phytates interfere with nutrient absorption, meaning your body doesn’t absorb as many vitamins and minerals as it should otherwise.

Judging by this evidence, bread appears to be dieting public enemy number one. Maybe you should put down that sandwich, step away from the counter and grab a piece of fruit instead.

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