The trend of low carbohydrate diets are very present today. The bread (like all products made with refined flours) is pointed out as one of the great enemies of a healthy diet, despite the great variety that exists in any bakery or supermarket: wheat, refined flour, whole wheat, with seeds, rye … An apparent variety in the that, in many cases, the differences between one and the other are not very great.
The fundamental element in this type of food is carbohydrates, a nutrient that, despite its bad reputation, is of special importance. “Their main function is energy. They provide energy that is easier to use (each gram provides 4 kcal). Glucose is the only source of energy for the brain, which consumes around 100 grams a day. Carbohydrates are a store and reserve of energy in the form of glycogen that it mobilizes quickly to generate glucose when it is needed “, they affirm from the Spanish Heart Foundation. These are present in many foods, with a greater presence in some of them, such as bread, pasta, other cereals and starchy vegetables .
Taking this into account, we can be sure that stopping eating bread, except for some very specific varieties, can generate some effects on our body that will be noticeable in a very short time. Some very positive, but others not so much.
How many times have we heard that to lose weight you have to give up bread? All, no doubt, many times. Actually, this belief comes from the fact that by reducing carbohydrate intake, it is true that you lose weight, but not because of the fat, but water. This is because carbohydrates are stored in the body in the form of glycogen, and up to three to four grams of water can accumulate for each gram. Therefore, if carbohydrates are reduced and the body begins to consume its glycogen stores, it is logical to lose a significant part of water which, in turn, will cause weight loss.
Maintain blood sugar level
Refined carbohydrates are notorious for sending your blood sugar levels through the roof, only to have them drop again. And an investigation published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that these changes activate addiction centers in the brain, leading to subsequent cravings. However, opting for fiber-rich whole grains can prevent blood sugar levels from plummeting to prevent cravings.
Lower risks of heart disease
A 2014 study published in PLOS ONE found that refined carbohydrates increase the body’s levels of a fatty acid, palmitoleic acid, which means an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Instead, according to the American Heart Association, whole grains can improve levels of cholesterol in the blood and reduce the risk of these diseases. In this way, we can affirm that leaving bread made with refined flours can improve these indicators, but that those really made with wholemeal flours can be very beneficial in this regard.
If we eliminate bread, along with the other foods that provide us with carbohydrates, we can feel the effects of the so-called ketogenic flu. This phenomenon refers to a set of symptoms due to the adaptation of the body to a very low carbohydrate diet. In these cases, when the body depletes stored glucose, it turns to stored fat for energy, which triggers a state of ketosis, when the liver begins to break down fat into acids called ketones. For most people, it may last a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, but it is not serious or dangerous. However, for people with diabetes who require insulin or with kidney disease or a history of kidney stones, the effects may be less desirable.
Drop in serotonin levels
Carbohydrates, regardless of their nature, regardless of their origin, increase brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin to feel good. Therefore, stopping eating bread can make it easier for this to happen in your body. However, it is an effect that can be avoided by substituting it for other foods that contain higher quality carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains or in certain fruits and vegetables, such as apples, bananas, avocados, spinach or carrots.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source, so removing bread slows down the work of cells, unless replaced by other carbohydrates. This can lead to a feeling of tiredness and drowsiness, and make us less productive or less willing to exercise. Additionally, whole grain bread is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, and B vitamins, all of which are critical for maintaining energy levels. Therefore, leaving the bread in its entirety, and, especially, whole wheat bread, can generate this feeling of fatigue, unless alternatives are sought to counteract it.