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As a Registered Dietitian, I often tell my bodybuilding clients to include bread as a carb source. However, in some cases, which I’ll discuss later, bread might not make sense.
Generally speaking, though, 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.
In this article, I will explain the reasons why bodybuilders include bread in their diet, as well as reasons for excluding it.
Let’s first discuss some basic bread nutrition facts.
Bread Nutrition Facts
|Calories||Carbs (g)||Fiber (g)||Protein (g)||Fats (g)|
5 Reasons Why Bodybuilders Eat Bread
The five reasons why bodybuilders eat bread are:
- Bread provides energy
- Bread is easy to digest
- Bread is easy to carry around
- Bread it macro-friendly
- Bread can increase your fiber intake
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.
- We analyzed 100+ different types of bread. Find out which bread is best for bodybuilding.
Are There Drawbacks of Eating Bread For Bodybuilding?
While there are several benefits of eating bread for bodybuilding, there might be a couple of drawbacks to consider:
You Might Overeat
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.
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.
Bread Is Not Very Nutritious
Bread doesn’t have a lot of nutrients like other high-carb foods like fruits, lentils, beans, or chickpeas. 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, there are several benefits. 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 or snack 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
Is Whole-Grain Or White Bread Better For Bodybuilding?
While I typically recommend whole-grain bread over white, it depends on the time of the day and activity.
- If you want a quick snack and your training session is in the next 30 minutes, white bread since it is easier to digest.
- To have a more stable glucose release for the rest of the day, go for whole grain.
Another important factor to consider is the phase of training.
- For those in a bulking phase that have trouble adding calories, white bread (thanks to being easy to digest) can make it easier to reach those daily calories.
- On the other hand, for those that are cutting, the satiating effect of whole-grain can provide a benefit to prevent getting hungry during the day.
Related Article: How To Count Calories In Homemade Bread
Tips For Eating Bread For 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.
Apps like MacroFactor (click to read my review and why I think it’s better than MyFitnessPal) can help you keep track of your calories to ensure that you are on the right path towards your goals.
Balance The Meal
Although some breads are 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, or cheese.
For those in a bulking phase, you might want to add some extra calories coming from healthy fats like some 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.
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.
Other Bodybuilding Foods
- Do Bodybuilders Eat Soy? (What NOT To Do)
- Do Bodybuilders REALLY Eat Baby Food (4 Reasons Why)
- Do Bodybuilders Eat Egg Whites Only (5 Reasons)
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.