The average American eats about 53 pounds of bread annually, according to Southern Utah University, and many supermarkets offer 50 or more types for purchase. At the same time, bread is one of the fastest-digesting – or highest glycemic – foods, which means you’ll be hungry again soon after eating. If you’re trying to lose weight, but bread is your downfall, cutting back or forgoing the breadbasket may help you achieve your weight-loss goals. Some lower calorie substitutes will help take a bite out of your bread habit.
Calories in Bread
One slice of plain, white bread contains 67 calories, which doesn’t sound like a lot – until you find yourself eating two or three slices in a typical day. Some types of bread will cost you even more in calories, as a slice of whole-wheat bread has 81 calories and a slice of rye has 83 calories, and a serving of some types of crusty French breads will set you back nearly 400 calories. And you rarely eat bread by itself. You might slather it with butter and jam in the morning or load it down with deli meat, cheese and mayonnaise at lunch. Each pat of butter or tablespoon of light mayo runs you 36 calories, while jam adds 56 calories per tablespoon.
Breakfast Bread Substitutes
Believe it or not, you can enjoy your eggs without toast. Serve your omelet or scrambled eggs with lightly grilled tomato rounds; a single, thick slice of tomato is only 5 calories. Try baking an egg in an avocado and topping it with herbs for a quick meal. One half avocado has 114 calories and is chock full of healthy monounsaturated fats, plus vitamins A, E and potassium, among other nutrients. You can also have poached eggs on a bed of vitamin-rich, cooked spinach or atop two slices of Canadian bacon; either choice has about 40 calories.
If you’re used to having sweet bread for breakfast, such as cinnamon raisin toast, keep the flavor but swap out the bread. Have a cup of oatmeal with cinnamon and a half cup of cooked apples for roughly 200 calories.
Bread Alternatives for Lunch
Lunch without bread might seem downright un-American. But a big leaf of romaine lettuce makes a light, tasty substitute for a slice of sandwich bread or a hot dog roll, and will set you back just 5 calories. Get creative and try layering your roast turkey or chicken between two thick slices of red bell pepper; the veggie slices contain about 37 calories. Or, skip the meat altogether and choose an open-faced, grilled portobello mushroom sandwich for 29 calories, served with lettuce, tomato and a little melted Cheddar. You don’t need pita bread to make your hummus complete; instead, try slices of fresh veggies, such as carrot, celery and green pepper, all of which have fewer than 25 calories and provide you with a lot of satisfying crunch.
Swapping Out Bread at Dinner
With plenty of satisfying protein and fiber on your plate at dinner, you’ll find you don’t really need the basket of dinner rolls to feel full. Instead of a pasta dinner, which digests quickly and cries out for Italian bread to mop up the sauce, go low-carb, with 3 ounces of grilled salmon, a medium-sized sweet potato and 2 cups of asparagus. While spaghetti and meat sauce will cost you about 670 calories – and that’s without any bread – a salmon dinner will have less than half that number. Start your lower calorie meal with a cup of broth-based soup. A study published in the journal Appetite in 2007 found that a serving of low-calorie soup before a meal boosted satiety while reducing calorie intake at the main meal.