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Bodybuilders have specific requirements when it comes to the type of bread they consume.
Not only do bodybuilders need to pay more attention to the grains used, calories, macros, and fiber content, they also need to consider the phase of training they’re in, whether that’s bulking or cutting.
While we’ve published a lot of content on the types of foods bodybuilders should eat (and avoid), we’ve yet to make recommendations on the best bread for bodybuilding.
So that’s what this article aims to answer.
We researched every bread that’s sold at the top 15 grocery stores in the US. We then analyzed each type of bread, including the ingredient panels, calories/macros, and vitamins/nutrients.
Our raw list included 29 different brands and exactly 100 individual types of bread, which we’ve distilled down to the 8 recommendations below.
If you’re in a rush, here’s our top pick:
- The best overall bread for bodybuilding is Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain due to its high fiber (3g) and protein content (7g).
- If you’re bulking, you need something with higher calories. As such, we recommend Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Everything Bagels.
- If you’re cutting, the opposite is true, you need something with the lowest calories. In that case, we recommend Dave’s Killer Bread Powerseed.
While our full list is below, let’s first discuss the factors you should consider if you’re buying bread for the purposes of bodybuilding.
Want to learn more about high protein foods? Check out our article Bodybuilding Foods For Bulking.
Factors To Consider For Buying Bread For Bodybuilding
1. Whole Wheat vs. White
The following nutritional information is based on 100 g of bread.
White bread and whole wheat bread have very different nutritional characteristics.
Thanks to its low fiber content, white bread is easier to digest than whole wheat. This makes it ideal for people that need a quick energy boost before a workout (30-60 minutes before).
On the other hand, whole wheat bread, thanks to its higher fiber and protein content, is better for a longer energy release. This means that it provides a higher fullness level compared to white bread. Thus, making it ideal for people in a cutting phase as fiber prevents making people go hungry during the day.
Those in bulking can also take advantage of whole wheat’s high protein content and long-lasting energy.
2. Grains Used
The typical grains used in breads are whole wheat, oats, wheat, millet, barley, and millet. While other grains might be included, they are not seen very often.
For people with celiacs disease or gluten intolerance want to avoid having any bread that is not gluten-free (those that have wheat, barley, and rye have gluten). Simple Kneads Bread Quinoa Power Grains offers a great option that is gluten-free and high in fiber.
If you don’t have this particular issue, you can choose any type of bread available. Make sure that you choose those that have more grains available to get different nutrients in your diet.
There are other considerations when it comes to choosing the type of grain in your bread. Oats, hemp, or quinoa based bread are higher in protein, which is ideal for those people looking to reach their daily requirements.
Some grains are also healthier due to their higher fiber and nutrient content. For example, rye has 2 g more compared to wheat, which makes it a better option for those that are looking to increase their fiber intake due to its satiating effect.
However, be on the lookout for the word “refined grains.” This means that they have been highly processed, removing most of their nutrients.
3. Check the Ingredient List
On the nutritional label, you can find the ingredients used in the food. They are written from the highest in content to the lowest.
When reading the ingredients list, make sure it is short. The shorter, the better, as that means it’s a low-processed food and retains a lot of the vitamins and minerals of the whole ingredients.
For example, BREAD ALONE Organic Peasant Bread has a very short ingredient list with natural ingredients.
Also, make sure that you understand the ingredients.
This means that you should be able to recreate the recipe from the ingredient list (it should not be a science experiment with hard-looking names). The easier it is to understand the ingredients, the more natural they are. This means that they are more likely to be full of nutrients.
Another important factor to consider is its calories. On average, one slice of bread has around 80 kcal. This is a good base to determine whether bread is high or low in calories.
For those in a cutting phase, you might want to have bread that is around 80 kcal or less bread. This makes it easier to reach your macros without giving away most of your calories in a slice of bread. For example, Eatsane Nuts and Seeds Bread Loaf offers bread slices with only 50 kcal, ideal for those in a cutting phase.
On the other hand, for those in bulking, you might want to consider bread with more than 80 kcal per slice. This means searching for those that have nuts and seeds in their mix. In this case, you might want to go for bread like Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Everything Bagels.
5. Macro Contents
The macros are another important factor you need to consider. Bread is typically low in protein (around 2-3 g of protein per slice).
If you are having trouble reaching your protein intake during the day, or if you follow a plant-based diet, you might want to consider slices of bread with higher protein content, like Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain 15 Grain Bread.
Look for bread brands that have more than 5 grams of protein per slice.
6. Fiber Content
Fiber is important to have a healthy gut, fight constipation, reduce your cholesterol levels, and most importantly, it helps increase your fullness levels.
According to the American Heart’s Association, the average consumption of fiber in the US is around 15 grams per day (while the recommendation is more than 25 g per day). Thus, most people have a low fiber intake.
Low fiber intake leads to constipation, irregular sugar levels, more hunger, and irregular bowel movements. Thus the importance of having breads that are high in fiber. Bread is considered to be high in fiber when it has more than 3 grams of fiber per serving.
7. Shelf Life
Finally, one thing most people don’t consider is shelf life. Natural loaves of bread (those with little to no additives) don’t have a very long shelf life. They might last 7-14 days.
Thus, you need to consider how often you will have bread.
For example, if you are not a fan of bread and have it once in a while, maybe it’s better to get bread with a longer shelf life (or place it in the fridge or freezer to make it last longer).
Top 8 For Bread On The Market
- Best High-Protein Bread: Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain 15 Grain Bread
- Best For Cutting: Dave’s Killer Bread Powerseed
- Best For Bulking: Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Everything Bagels
- Best To Control Sodium Levels: Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
- Best When On A Budget: 365 by Whole Foods Market Bread Sandwich Whole Wheat Organic
- Best Gluten-Free Option: Simple Kneads Bread Quinoa Power Grains
- Best Keto-Friendly Option: Eatsane Nuts and Seeds Bread Loaf
- Best For Pre-Workout: 365 by Whole Foods Market, Bread Sandwich Classic White
1. Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain 15 Grain Bread – Best High Protein Bread
Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain 15 Grain Bread is a great option for those following a plant-based diet or that have a challenging time reaching their protein intake. You get 130 kcal, 22 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 7 g protein, and 2.5 g of fat in one slice.
Looking for a carb high in protein can help you achieve your proteins without relying on animal proteins. For example, in 100 g of this bread, you get almost 14 grams of protein (the same as having two large eggs).
On the other hand, other carb sources might not be very high in protein. If we compare rice, it only has 2 g of protein per 100 g. For someone that has a hard time reaching their daily protein intake, finding a carb that is high in protein helps a lot reach your daily requirements.
This makes Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain 15 Grains a top choice for those people having a challenging time adding protein to their everyday lives.
Additionally, it has a good amount of fiber (3 g), which can help you increase your satiety levels and make you feel fuller during the day.
The only drawback would be that the protein is not high quality compared to animal products. Thus, you might want to add other protein sources like chicken, eggs, cheese, fish, and meat.
- High in protein
- Moderate in fiber
- Low-quality protein
2. Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Sprouted Whole Grains Thin-Sliced Bread – Best For Cutting
Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Sprouted Whole Grains Thin-Sliced Bread is the best option for those that are in a cutting phase. One slice has 70 kcal, 15 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein, and 1 g fat.
You need to consume fewer calories than your body needs to reach a caloric deficit and lose fat mass in a cutting phase.
Sprouted bread is an excellent choice for those looking for low-calorie bread. It has 10-20 kcal less than the average slice of bread (around 80-90 kcal). While this might not seem like a lot, every calorie counts when in a cutting phase.
Also, it has a moderate amount of fiber which helps increase your fullness levels. Nonetheless, it might not have as much fiber (more than 3 g) to have a greater satiating effect.
- Low in calories
- Moderate in protein
- Moderate in fiber
- Low in fat
- Could be higher in fiber
3. Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Everything Bagels – Best For Bulking
Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Everything Bagels is ideal for those people in a bulking phase. One bagel (95 g) has 260 kcal, 44 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 13 g protein, and 5 g fat.
To gain weight, you need to consume more calories than your body needs (caloric surplus). Finding foods that are high in calories and won’t make you feel too full is ideal for helping you reach your total energy requirements.
One bagel gives you 260 kcal per slice. Compared to other carb sources, bagels give you more calories per gram. For example, in 100 g of rice, you only get 97 kcal, while in 100 g of this bread, you get 270 kcal. Thus, you might find it easier to reach your daily calories.
It also has a good fiber content (5 g) which allows you to get a decent fiber intake for overall good health, but it doesn’t have too much fiber to make you feel stuffed throughout the day.
Additionally, it has a good protein content, which is an essential macronutrient for muscle building. It has almost the same protein content as two large eggs, but keep in mind that it is not as high quality as animal protein (since it doesn’t have all the amino acids your body needs).
Nonetheless, it has 350 mg of sodium in one bagel, which is a very high intake. To be considered a low sodium food, it needs to have less than 140 mg per serving (100 g).
- High in calories
- Moderate in fiber
- High In protein
- Low-quality protein
- High in sodium
4. Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Whole Grain Bread – Best To Control Sodium Levels
Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Whole Grain Bread is a great option for those that are looking to cut back on their sodium. One slice of bread has 80 kcal, 15 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 5 g protein, 0.5 g fat, and 0 mg of sodium.
High consumption of sodium can lead to high blood pressure. The recommendation for daily sodium is 2,300 mg per day. If you are a bodybuilder with high blood pressure or have a family history of high blood pressure (or heart disease), this is the best option.
If you don’t have high blood pressure (or family history), but you are looking to cut back on sodium to prevent water retention and look leaner, this is an excellent option since it doesn’t have any sodium.
It is also very high in protein (it has 5 g per slice), which is great for people that have trouble reaching their total protein requirements for the day (like plant-based bodybuilders). It has almost the same protein content as one medium egg, but as we previously saw it cannot be classified as a high-quality protein.
However since it doesn’t have any sodium, it might not have a long shelf life.
- Low in sodium
- High in protein
- High in fiber
- Might have a shorter shelf life
5. 365 by Whole Foods Market Bread Sandwich Whole Wheat Organic – Best When On A Budget
For those with a tight budget 365 by Whole Foods Market Bread Sandwich Whole Wheat Organic is the best option available with a low cost. One slice of bread has 80 kcal, 14 g carbs, 2 g of fiber, 4 g protein, and 1 g fats.
On average, a loaf of bread could range from $7-11. This means that it has an average of $0.30-1.00 per ounce. This loaf of bread has a price of $4.19, which represents $0.21 per ounce.
Bodybuilders tend to have very high energy requirements, which means that the grocery bill might be too high with all the food it needs to be consumed. Finding cheap and healthy carb options are ideal for those bodybuilders on a tight bu\dget or what to cut back on expenses.
When it comes to the macro content, it has a good fiber intake (2 g). Also, it has an average amount of protein since it has 4 g of protein, more or less the same as one small egg.
- Low price
- Moderate fiber
- Moderate calories
- Could be higher in fiber
- Low-quality protein
6. Simple Kneads Bread Quinoa Power Grains – Best Gluten-Free Option
If you have trouble digesting gluten, this is the best choice for you. One slice of Simple Kneads Bread Quinoa Power Grains has 100 kcal, 18 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 3 g protein, and 2.5 g fats.
One of its main ingredients is quinoa flour which not only is an excellent gluten-free option but it is also a good protein source. While this bread is not particularly high in protein (it only has 3 grams). Quinoa does contain all the essential amino acids that your body needs.
It’s also a good source of fiber since it has 3 grams of fiber. This helps you increase your fullness levels, which prevents you from getting hungry during the day and opens the door to constantly snacking during the day (which increases your caloric intake and could jeopardize your goals).
However, even though it has an excellent plant-based protein choice (quinoa), it is still low in protein. You shouldn’t be relying on bread to hit your protein goals though, so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, especially if you’re simply looking for a gluten-free option.
- High in fiber
- High quality plant-based protein
- Low in protein
7. Eatsane Nuts and Seeds Bread Loaf – Best Keto-Friendly Option
For bodybuilders following a keto or low-carb approach, the Eatsane Nuts and Seeds Bread Loaf is the best option. One slice has 50 kcal, 5 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein, and 3 g fats.
This bread has the benefit of being low in calories (ideal for those in a cutting phase), but it also has the benefit that it only has 2 g of net carbs (total carbs – fiber). Having only 2 g of carbs is ideal for those on a ketogenic diet.
Thanks to its high fiber content (3 g) and protein (4 g), it has a high satiating effect, which will prevent you from getting hungry during the day.
However, in a ketogenic diet, you need to have a higher fat intake to provide you with your daily energy.
This bread won’t give you the necessary energy to sustain you in a keto diet. Thus, if you are going to have it, you would still need to include a fat source (avocado, butter, cream cheese, or olive oil) to compensate.
- Low in calories
- Moderate in protein
- High in fiber
- Low in fat
8. 365 by Whole Foods Market, Bread Sandwich Classic White – Best For Pre-Workout
Finally, for the best pre-workout snack the 365 by Whole Foods Market, Bread Sandwich Classic White is a great option. One slice has 110 kcal, 21 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein, and 1.5 g fat.
White bread is easier to digest than whole-grain bread since it is lower in fiber. This bread only has 1 g of fiber, which won’t give you bloating, stomach cramps, or make you feel sluggish before training.
If you are looking for a quick and easy energy-boost, having a couple of slices of this bread can give you sufficient energy for your training session.
Simply add a healthy fat and a protein source to make a long-lasting energy release.Additionally, it is good for those with a tight budget since it costs $3.00 for the loaf of bread, which is a cheap option.
The only con would be the low fiber content. Due to this important factor, I wouldn’t make it my daily carb choice since it can make you have a low fiber intake during the day (especially if you are not adding other high fiber foods like fruits and veggies).
- Easy to digest
- Low cost
- Low in fiber
- Low in fiber (for frequent use)
Bodybuilding Buyer’s Guide To Bread
Do Bodybuilders Eat Bread?
Yes, bodybuilders eat bread.
It is an easily digestible carb source that provides energy for training and doesn’t require a lot of food prep (like rice or potatoes).
The one downside of bread for bodybuilding though is that it’s not very filling. This might make you feel hungry only a short time after eating it.
Is Bread Good For Bodybuilding? 5 Benefits
1. Bread Provides Energy
A bodybuilder’s diet (depending on the phase) could be very high in carbs. It can even reach 50-60% of its total calories from carbs.
Carbs are typically the primary energy source in the body. Thus, bread is a good way to help provide the energy needed to achieve this macro goal.
Additionally, the carbs in bread can help bodybuilders add calories in order to achieve a caloric surplus for those in bulk.
2. Bread Is Easy To Digest
One of the advantages of bread (especially white bread) is that it is easier to digest.
Its low fiber content (2g per 100 g) compared to whole-grain bread (6g per 100g) means that the body doesn’t take long to digest and use it as energy.
Thus, white bread is the best option for bodybuilders looking for a pre-workout snack to help provide energy without making them feel bloated or sluggish.
3. Bread Is Easy To Carry Around
Another advantage of bread is it’s easy to carry around and you don’t need to cook it. You can just take it out of the bag, toast it (only if you want), add your toppings, and you are good to go.
For those bodybuilders who don’t have a lot of time to prepare several meals during the day, bread is often the go-to carb.
4. Whole-grain Bread is High In Protein
Another reason why bodybuilders opt for bread is that some brands (often those that are whole-grain) are high in protein. For those bodybuilders that are plant-based or those that have a hard time reaching their protein requirements, a carb source that is also high in protein can help.
Instead of going for a carb source that is low in protein (like rice), having food with both macros at once can make it easier for you to reach your protein goals, meaning you don’t need to add that much protein as a side.
For example, one cup of cooked rice with 100 g of chicken provides 45 g of carbs and 31.3 g of protein. To reach the same amount of carbs and protein with bread and chicken it would be 4 slices of bread with 50 g of chicken (the amount of protein you consumed got cut by half).
Some loaves of bread (like the one from Pepperidge farm) contain 7 g of protein per slice of bread, which is the same as one large egg.
With that said, bread is not considered a “high-quality protein” since it doesn’t have all the 9 essential amino acids that most animal-based proteins have.
One slice of whole-wheat bread is high in only one of the nine amino acids (tryptophan), the rest of them are present but only in very low amounts.
If you want to complement bread, you can try adding beans, lentils, or chickpeas which are higher in the rest of the amino acids that bread lacks.
5. Bread Can Increase Your Fiber Intake
Fiber has a lot of benefits. It can reduce your cholesterol levels, promote good gut health, and, most importantly, provide fullness. While white bread might not have a very filling effect, whole-grain bread is very satiating.
For those that need to cut down calories but want to avoid getting hungry during the day, adding high fiber foods is important to keep those fullness levels high. Thus, it will prevent you from snacking or overeating at your next meal due to increased hunger.
Is Bread Bad For Bodybuilding? 3 Drawbacks
While there are several benefits of eating bread for bodybuilding, there might be a couple of drawbacks to consider:
1. You Might Overeat
White bread is very easily digestible, and since it doesn’t have a lot of fiber, it might not fill you up as much as other foods like lentils, chickpeas, or quinoa.
This means that you are more likely to overeat to get that same feeling of fullness. This means that you might be exceeding your caloric intake, which might compromise your goals.
2. Can Cause Stomach Problems
For some people, since bread contains gluten, it might cause stomach problems. For those bodybuilders with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), having a diet very high in bread (or gluten products) could cause bloating, diarrhea, or stomach cramps.
If you are prone to stomach problems, you can check your daily tolerance without having any symptoms.
For some, it means eating just one slice of bread, while others can tolerate maybe 2-3 slices. Remember that we all have a different tolerance.
3. Bread Is Not Very Nutritious
Bread doesn’t have a lot of nutrients like other high-carb foods like fruits. Bread (even if it is whole-grain) is a processed food, which means that during the making, it can lose certain crucial nutrients.
While some loaves of bread are fortified with vitamins (for example folate, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B12), they might not have the same amount as a natural product with vitamins and minerals.
This is not to say that you cannot eat bread. However, if you include bread as your only carb source during the day you might be lacking certain nutrients.
Make sure that you have diverse sources of foods to ensure that you are getting all the essential nutrients that your body needs. The most important thing is to analyze your diet throughout the day, and not only in one meal.
This means that it is ok to have a sandwich for lunch but vary the carb in the afternoon like adding sweet potato.
- Related Article: Bread Makes Me Tired & Fatigued: 3 Reasons + How To Fix
Do Bodybuilders Only Eat Bread When Bulking?
In most cases, bodybuilders include bread in a bulking phase since they have a higher caloric and carb content. However, this doesn’t mean that a bodybuilder in a cutting phase cannot have bread. You only need to be careful with the portion size and make sure that you keep track of your macros.
A bodybuilder in a cutting phase, while their calories and macros are reduced compared to those in bulk, still needs some carbs to provide the energy they need during the day.
Additionally, after a training session, bodybuilders regardless of the phase of training, need to replace the glycogen stores to ensure optimal muscle recovery and growth, which bread can assist with.
- Read more in my article: Can You Eat Bread While Cutting? Yes, Here’s How
Tips For Eating Bread When Bodybuilding
Track Your Macros
The most important thing about adding bread for bodybuilding is to measure the portion size.
Although the package states how many grams a slice of bread weighs, it is important to measure each slice and track the calorie and macro content accordingly, especially if you’re a bodybuilder.
Balance The Meal
Although some bread is high in protein, it is not enough for the requirements of a bodybuilder. Thus, it is important to add a protein source to help balance everything out. You can include proteins like salmon, chicken, eggs, etc.
For those in a bulking phase, you might want to add some extra calories coming from healthy fats like avocado.
Finally, if you are making bread the primary carb in one of your meals (like lunch and dinner), ensure that you are adding veggies to get the necessary nutrients for a healthy meal.
- Bread is on my list of cheap bulking carbs. Check out where it stands among 15 different carb sources
Be Aware of Your Toppings
Bread on its own is not a “bad” food since it is mostly carbs. However, the problem arises with the toppings on top of the bread. For example, cream cheese, butter, and jam are very energy-dense foods that can increase your daily calories without you realizing it.
Additionally, cream cheese and butter are high in saturated fats. A large consumption of saturated fats has been linked to heart disease.
Thus, when looking to add something on top of your bread, choose healthy fats like avocado or nut butter and make sure that you have control of how much you are putting on them.
Consider The Types of Bread
In the following table, you get the nutritional information for several types of bread according to 100 g of each product.
While each brand might vary from the nutrition content, it can give you a clear idea of which one to choose based on your goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Bread Good For Building Muscle?
Yes, bread is good for muscle building. It provides you with the necessary calories to reach a caloric surplus. Since white bread is not very filling, it can help you add calories without feeling too full during the day. Also, it helps restore your glycogen levels post-workout, improving your recovery and performance.
What Is The Best Phase Of Training To Eat Bread?
Either in a bulking phase or cutting phase, you can eat bread. This is because bread is primarily carbs, and you need carbs to provide the necessary energy for your training sessions. The only difference between eating bread for bulking or cutting is the serving sizes.
When Is The Best Time of Day To Eat Bread?
You can have bread any time during the day. Add it before a workout to provide energy for your training session. Add it after your workout to ensure you replenish your glycogen stores and have the best muscle recovery, or have it during the day to help you reach your daily carbs.
Can You Eat Bread If You’re Losing Weight?
Yes, you can eat bread while you lose weight as long as you track the portions thoroughly and keep track of your calories and macros. To ensure that you are within your calorie and macro budget, weigh each slice of bread using a food scale and use a tracking app (like MacroFactor).
Is Brown Bread Better For Cutting?
Yes, brown bread is better for cutting because it has twice the amount of fiber compared with white bread. Fiber takes longer to digest, making you feel fuller for longer. While in a cutting phase, this allows you to cut your calories without making you feel hungry throughout the day.
Is Sourdough Bread Good For Building Muscle?
Yes, sourdough bread is a high-energy-dense food and good for building muscle. In 100g, you get 267 kcal. It has more than twice the calories as other carb sources (like rice), ideal for obtaining a caloric surplus. However, it might not have sufficient protein, so it’s recommended to add other protein sources (eggs, cheese, or chicken).
Other Food Reviews For Bodybuilders
About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.