Bread; it’s the staple of most of our diets. It’s a go-to lunch, easy side dish or quick pick-me-up when we’re hungry and tired. Bread is simple, tasty and cheap, but is our dough habit getting out of control? Hmmm, maybe a little. If your goal is fat loss, I’d suggest looking at the type and quantity of bread you are eating every day.

I don’t advocate low carb diets. Carbs are an essential part of a balanced diet, particularly if you lead a very active lifestyle. Cut your body and brain’s preferred energy source too much and you’ll experience brain fog, dizziness, tiredness, weakness, insomnia and poor athletic performance. Not to mention bad breath and constipation.

Besides, most of the miraculous weight loss you see in the early stages of a low carb diet is water weight. When carbs are stored in the body in the form of glycogen, each gram of carbohydrate stores three to four times its weight in water. Cut those glycogen stores and you’ll be hefting around significantly less weight, even if there is little change in your body fat levels.

We need carbs, but we must be careful about the TYPE of carbs we eat. Choose natural carbs over refined. That is, carbs that fell off a tree or grew out of the ground (potatoes, rice, vegetables, fruit, etc). Bread has its place, but we need whole grain varieties, not stodgy highly refined grains such as white bread, crackers and pretzels. These unhealthy carbs trigger a swift rise and fall in our blood sugar levels, leading to more cravings. The more we eat, the more we want to eat.

Fibre-rich whole grains are more slowly absorbed by the body and keep blood sugar on an even keel. Whole grains are an important source of nutrients including B vitamins, antioxidants and minerals and the high fibre content supports digestion and increases feelings of fullness. Research shows that eating whole grains in place of refined lowers your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Good sources of whole grains include whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice. If you want to make whole grain bread part of your diet, always check the ingredients. Choose breads that list whole grain as the first ingredient. Wheat or multigrain bread isn’t necessarily a whole grain product. Ezekiel bread stands out among most varieties because it’s made from sprouted whole grains and without added sugar.

Also, watch the quantities. If you are trying to lose or maintain weight, stay within your calorie budget. About 50% of your calories should come from unrefined carbohydrates (including whole grains), 30% from protein and 20% from fat.

Bread needn’t be outlawed from your diet, but too many white bread products won’t do much for your waistline. Replacing that daily sub sandwich with a wholegrain roll or brown rice dish will help your body fat percentage move in the right direction.

To find out more about carbohydrates, see: Should I Be Cutting Carbs?