How to make smart, healthy bread choices

October 26, 2013

Like many Americans, I love anything made of dough and could empty the restaurant bread basket faster than you can say Wonder Bread, but the simple truth is, many breads are bad for you and will cause you to gain unwanted fat.

Hold on; that doesn’t mean you can’t have your bread and eat it too; you just have to know what you’re looking for to make smarter choices. Here are a few suggestions to guide you on your way.

Why bread is bad

You may be asking yourself, if bread is made from wheat and grains, how it can be bad. The answer is that most bread is heavily processed and robbed of fiber, and it hits the bloodstream like a high-glycemic freight train. This means eating regular white bread will cause weight gain, hunger and poor energy levels, but all breads aren’t created equal, and there are many products out there that make much better choices.

100 percent whole wheat

Wheat bread has been less processed and is mostly made of grain, but it’s very important to be aware of imposters and choose only 100 percent whole wheat. Many products add sugar and refined flour that will degrade the product, making it less nutritious. Just because it’s brown or says whole grain, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy, but if you choose 100 percent whole wheat, you will be making a much better choice.

Thomas’ English Muffins

Most muffins and bagels are loaded with sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates, but Thomas’ English Muffins offer a 100 percent whole wheat version that’s healthy and tastes great. These muffins have 23 grams of quality carbohydrates per serving and contain only 2 grams of sugar, making them an excellent choice, because they are healthy and easy to carry with you anywhere. You can also spice them up by toasting them and adding egg whites, fat-free cheese and turkey bacon for a complete and healthy breakfast.

Whole-grain wraps

Whole-grain wraps are an excellent substitute for regular breads, because they contain all the healthy parts of the grain and have more fiber and less sodium and sugar.

They are also more versatile and can be used in numerous recipes that are quick and easy. Just add your favorite fish, chicken, turkey, steak or seafood combined with vegetables or salad, and you have the perfect meal without the insulin-spiking carbs.

Protein bread

Unless you live under a rock, you know it’s essential to eat quality protein to build a healthy body, and now there is a bread that can help you accomplish that goal. Developed by three brothers and their personal trainer, P28 Protein Bread combines healthy whole grains and whey protein isolates to make a healthy choice for bread lovers that will give you 28 grams of quality protein without the refined flour and high-glycemic carbohydrates. The only problem is that you most likely won’t find this product at your local grocery store, but you can order it by the case at

Ezekiel bread

Made of sprouted grains and legumes, Ezekiel bread offers a fresh and natural alternative to most bread offered at the grocery store and can be a great source of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Ezekiel bread is made by allowing grains - seeds - to grow but harvesting them before they turn into new plants. This process makes healthier bread because it’s not processed and therefore promotes more stable blood sugar levels and usually has less sugar than comparable products.

Note to buyer: when looking for healthy bread choices, it’s important to remember the first three ingredients listed on the nutrition panel are what the product is mostly made of, so if you see enriched or bleached white flour, put it back; there are much better choices you can make.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out