What to Eat Instead of Bread?
Max Carmody, MSc
Instead of eating regular bread, you can eat special commercial store bought low carb bread, “cloud bread”, or low carb tortillas. You can make sandwiches with lettuce, or portobello mushrooms, or grilled eggplant, or just generally eat more protein or fruits or vegetables to make up for the bread.
Although there are multiple reasons why a person may not want to eat bread, I will assume, for the purposes of this article, that the reason is that they are following a low carb diet. There are many reasons that a person may want to follow a low carb diet. They are very popular especially for weight loss reasons. But before I get into that, first I will explain what carbohydrates are, and the basics of a low carb diet.
Carbohydrates (carbs) are a type of macronutrient. Macronutrients are types of nutrients that your body needs in large quantities to survive. The other macronutrients are protein, and fat. Carbs are made up of sugar, starches, and fiber, and are found in grains, milk, fruits, and vegetables. Your body turns carbs into glucose to give you the energy to function.
So what is a low carb diet? A low carb diet involves restricting daily carb intake. Typically anything under 130 grams of carbs a day is considered to be low carb, although this can vary. Low carb diets can go to as low as 50, or even 20 grams of carbs per day, and the Keto diet especially is extremely low carb. When reducing carbs, people usually make up for the carbs with more fat and protein. There is not only one low carb diet, but rather a wide variety of different low carb diets, commercial and not.
Benefits of a Low Carb Diet
There are plenty of potential benefits of a low carb diet. First of all, they are great for weight loss. It may vary for each individual, but I myself have successfully and rapidly lost weight on a low carb diet. And for me at least, the best part of a low carb diet is that I’m not hungry. When I just restrict calories and am still eating carbs (including bread for sandwiches) I am always STARVING. I get so hungry at 10 am after eating a bowl of cereal at 7 am. But protein and fat tend to fill you up more than carbs. So I tend to find myself very satiated with a low carb diet, because of all the protein that I’m eating.
These are not the only benefits of low carb diets. With low carb, a greater proportion of fat loss tends to come from your abdominal cavity, this is generally considered to be “toxic” fat. Triglycerides, fat molecules that circulate in your bloodstream, tend to drop drastically. You get increased levels of good cholesterol, and reduced levels of bad cholesterol. It can reduce your blood sugar and insulin levels, and be beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.
All about Bread
So what is the problem with bread? There is nothing inherently wrong with bread, so I don’t want to demonize it. Some types of bread are even good for you. For example, wheat bread is pretty good for you, it has lots of vitamins, and whole grains and fiber, all good things. Bread can be part of a balanced diet, and is perfectly fine to eat if you’re not on a low carb diet, unless you have something like Celiac’s disease or gluten sensitivity.
However, if you are on a low carb diet you may want to avoid bread. If you are not on an extremely low carb diet, a slice or 2 of bread is probably ok. It depends on how strict you are being, and if you are on something like the keto diet, or just a regular low carb diet. The average slice of white bread has about 15 carbs. So if you are doing a more moderate low carb diet, and consuming 100 carbs a day, a small sandwich would be fine. If you are still hell bent on not eating bread though, or would like to reduce the amount that you eat, we’ll get into some good alternatives for you.
Things to Eat Instead of Bread
There are plenty of actual low carb breads out there that you can buy at the store. Sara Lee makes a “Delightful Honey 100% Whole Wheat bread” with only 1 gram of carbs per slice. Thin slim foods makes a bread with only 7 grams of carbs per slice called “ThinSlim 0 Carb”. It’s not exactly the same as bread, but you can also buy low carb tortillas. I was experimenting with the paleo diet recently, and tried almond flour tortillas, because on that diet you’re not allowed to eat anything processed. They were a little higher carb than I would have liked, and not quite as good as flour tortillas, but I kind of liked them in their own way. If you would like to read more about how you should be eating on a low carb diet, you can find an article that I wrote on the topic here.
One bread substitute that is very popular right now is “Cloud Bread”. It is something of a “viral Tik Tok Bread” right now, as it is everywhere on the platform. Some versions are made with only eggs, a little cream cheese, and cream of tartar. One particularly highly rated version online adds italian herb seasoning and garlic, so you can really put whatever twist you want on this bread. I haven’t eaten it myself so far, but I’ll definitely be making it soon now that I know it’s out there!
Something that I do often is use lettuce to make little wraps. Recently, I was making some very delicious wraps that included turkey breast, avocado, mayonnaise, tomato, and dill. Very filling and satisfying. To actually create something like a sandwich, some other things you can use are grilled portobello mushrooms. I LOVE portobello mushrooms, and you can stuff lots of stuff in between them, like some roast beef, mmm. Another things that you can use is grilled eggplant. It’s certainly not for everyone, I know that a lot of people don’t like eggplant, but I love that too. And instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you can have your peanut butter on apple slices.
Beyond actual bread substitutes, there are some things that you may want to eat, just to fill the general hole that bread is leaving. For breakfast, if you are used to having toast, you could substitute it with something else filling but nutritious, like avocados. Or some tomatoes. Or just fruits and vegetables in general. You should probably be eating less bread, and more fruits and vegetables, in general.
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