12 Extra Slices Of Bread Daily Helped Men Lose Up To 25 Pounds In 8 Weeks

BreadDiet3In an earlier post I said that excess carbohydrate does not turn to body fat. Here’s a study that gave overweight men an extra 12 slices of bread a day – and they all lost weight:

Effects Of A High Fiber Bread Diet On Weight Loss In College-Age Males, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1979

16 overweight college-age men were divided into 2 groups:

  • Group 1 ate 12 slices of white bread daily (1 gram fiber).
  • Group 2 ate 12 slices of fiber-enriched bread daily (25.5 grams fiber).

Both groups lost weight; the fiber group lost more.

The men were fed all meals in a cafeteria. They received trays containing 3200 calories/day which included 4 slices of bread per meal. They ate the same food (type, not quantity) at each meal. “No drastic changes were made in types of food” prior to and during the study.

Eating the bread caused the men to voluntarily limit the amount of other food they were eating:

  • Group 1 reduced calories from 3200 to 2350.
  • Group 2 reduced calories from 3200 to 1975.

After 8 weeks:

  • Group 1: Weight loss average of 6.26 kg (13.8 lb)
  • Group 2: Weight loss average of 8.77 kg (19.3 lb)
  • Group 1: Cholesterol dropped from 231 to 155 mg/dl
  • Group 2: Cholesterol dropped from 224 to 172 mg/dl

There were no detrimental effects of all that bread on the men’s blood glucose.

  • Group 1: Fasting glucose, no change (87.1 before, 86.6 after)
  • Group 2: Fasting glucose, no change (85.7 before, 85.3 after)

The authors stated that “the feeling of fullness created by eating bread and intensified with bread containing cellulose helps the dieter control food intake.”

A couple of undeniable facts from this study:

  • Choosing high-fiber bread over white bread leads to more weight loss.
  • Eating bread does not prevent weight loss, and may assist weight loss.

An aside… men who ate the high-fiber bread visited the bathroom more, and had heavier stools:

“For the [high-fiber] bread group, bowel movements averaged 1.7 per day with a mean stool weight of 243 g [half a pound] and for the regular bread group 1.4 movements per day with a mean stool weight of 118 g [quarter of a pound].”

There are a number of physicians and diet-book authors who claim that eating a lot of carbohydrate, especially grains, and of grains, especially wheat, and of wheat, especially processed wheat (flour), will cause weight gain – ipso facto.  Here we have a group of men who lost from 9 to 25 pounds in 8 weeks by adding 12 slices of bread to their regular diet.

Dr. McDougall, whose belief in the benefits of a starch-based diet is steadfast, offered this challenge in his new book, “The Starch Solution.” … “Add an extra 600 to 900 calories (divided throughout the day) of grains, legumes, or starchy vegetables to what you are already eating” (such as the foods below). Don’t add any fat or animal food to these additional starches:

4 cups of steamed rice
4 cups of boiled corn
4 mashed potatoes
4 baked sweet potatoes
3 cups of cooked beans, peas, or lentils
4 cups of boiled spaghetti noodles
12 slices of whole grain bread

His diet is a lot like the diets of traditional Okinawans who consumed 85% of their calories from carbohydrates, 70% from sweet potatoes alone, and who are known for their long life and good health into old age. It is also similar to the diets of Cubans during their Special Period, where they lost weight and lowered their rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, by eating 77% of their calories as carbohydrate, primarily rice and sugar.

8 thoughts on “12 Extra Slices Of Bread Daily Helped Men Lose Up To 25 Pounds In 8 Weeks

  1. KM

    Hello Bix,

    Interesting study – just thought I’d point out that the weight loss in both groups was not entirely attributable to eating an increased carbohydrate load ‘in addition’ to their daily diet, or rather, due to the decreased overall energy intake (-1000Kcal/day). This satiety is of course related to the consumption of extra (fibre-rich) carbohydrates; but should the subjects have maintained their daily energy intake of 3200Kcal with the inclusion of the bread, this ‘weight loss’ may not been present.

    In addition, most if not all of the subjects in this study were ‘keen to lose weight’ (i.e. have extra pounds to lose). This might have magnified the degree of weight loss.

    I suppose my point is, if you are eating an diet rich in unrefined carbohydrates without caloric restriction/reduction (whether intentional or unintentional), weight loss is not a given. (Other health parameters however, like cholesterol and BP, may well improve with the change in dietary composition.)


    1. Bix Post author

      I like this study because it shows that eating bread does not necessarily lead to weight gain.

      I happen to agree with you when you say that if you are eating an diet rich in unrefined carbohydrates “weight loss is not a given.” I think you have to look at the whole diet.

      There’s a danger in saying this, about bread and carbohydrates, I realize that. Some people will treat this as a license to eat more pizza, fries and crisps, cookies, crackers, biscuits…


    1. Bix Post author

      Are you asking where the 3200 came from? It’s what the men were eating. That was their research question … i.e. If we provide the same calories as they were eating, and the same types of foods, will bread assist weight loss?

      “Subjects were initially presented with sufficient food to provide 3200 cal/day which was approximately equal to the average amount of calories consumed by all subjects before initiation of the study.”

      Calorie needs vary depending upon height, weight, age, gender, activity level. An equation like Harris-Benedict is often used to calculate needs. I ran the numbers for a 20 year old male at moderate activity and came up with a bit over 3000.


  2. Bix Post author

    Gary Taubes, a prominent figure in the low-carb community, said in his book, Good Calories, Bad Calories:

    “Carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.”

    “Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating, and not sedentary behavior.”

    “Consuming excess calories does not cause [Taubes’ emphasis] us to grow fatter, any more than it causes a child to grow taller. Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger.”

    It is difficult to reconcile his claims with the findings in this study. These men, according to these claims, were overweight because they were consuming, not too many calories, but too many carbohydrates. But this study gave them more carbohydrates (and they lost weight) which led them to consume fewer calories (and they lost weight).


  3. Melinda

    I have to say I don’t understand Taubes’ points about excess calorie consumption and expending of energy. It just doesn’t make sense. Plus, the people I know who eat lots of meat (Paleo) tend to be overweight. Of course, if they were eating *real* Paleo (“insectivore”) diet and running all over the veldt for half the day, they might not be! But I guess Taubes wouldn’t agree with that either, since apparently neither calories nor exercise affect obesity according to him.


  4. Bix Post author

    Some of the things Taubes says make sense to me. But I don’t think a low-carb diet is the answer.

    Say you have a person with diabetes. And they eat some carbs. Those carbs get broken down to glucose which enters the bloodstream. But in a diabetic, that glucose may not enter cells, it may stay in the bloodstream, causing blood sugar levels to rise. If they rise high enough, excess blood glucose goes out in urine. That’s calorie loss right there.

    The inability to get glucose into cells (and then into mitochondria in cells which make energy from it) makes people tired and hungry. So, they eat more. And they pee more. And they are more thirsty and more hungry and the cycle perpetuates.

    The reason glucose can’t enter cells is either … there isn’t enough hormone (like insulin and other chemicals) to unlock cell doors. Or the cells have become resistant to those hormones. Why? You have to answer these questions.

    So, one point where I agree with Taubes is that there are hormones and other chemicals that contribute to weight, distinct from the calories we eat, and the exercise we take. But I think the reasons for this are many and varied and so, rather complex, and the solution more involved than just restricting carbs.



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