Whether you're cutting back on carbs for a specific diet (such as Keto, Paleo or Atkins), or you're a diabetic trying to manage your blood sugar levels, one of the hardest things to give up when you're on a low-carb diet is bread. It's comfort food at its finest. But the good news is there are more and more low-carb bread options in grocery stores and recipes that rely on wholesome ingredients and deliver on taste.
"It's important to pay attention to ingredient labels," says Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition. For gluten-free options, Phipps says to look for breads that are made with grain-free flours like almond, tapioca and arrowroot. "And be careful of low-carb options that add unnecessary amounts of fiber in the form of inulin or other processed fibers. While most people tolerate these fine, some people can experience GI upset as a result," advises Phipps.
What is considered “low-carb”?
Unlike "low-calorie" or "reduced-fat" claims, the FDA has not legally defined what "low-carbohydrate" means. Therefore, for the purposes of this list all of the options below have no more than 14 grams of total carbs and no more than 9 grams of net carbs. "Net carbs are the carbohydrates that your body can digest. Our bodies can't fully digest fiber, which is a type of carbohydrate. So net carbs is referring to the total number of carbohydrates in a food after the fiber has been subtracted out," explains Phipps. Sugar alcohols are subtracted as well when calculating net carbs.
While the parameters for this list are not extremely low carb, they are lower than what your average slice of bread might deliver. For comparison, a typical slice of bread can have 20 grams of carbs and only 2 grams of dietary fiber, for a total of 18 grams of net carbs, which is twice the limit used here.
Make at least half your grains whole grains
It's also important to realize that whole grain-based foods, like bread, are rich in complex carbohydrates and are a great source of energy to fuel physical activity, your brain and your nervous system. The USDA recommends adults make at least half of their grains whole grains. To be sure you are selecting foods high in whole grains, look for those with at least 8 grams of whole grains per slice. (Experts recommend eating 48 grams of whole grain a day.)
1. Ezekiel 4:9 Flax Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
If you're a fan of Food for Life's Ezekiel bread, the Ezekiel 4:9 Flax Sprouted Whole Grain Bread is their lowest carb option, providing 14 grams of carbs and 4 grams of dietary fiber per slice (net carbs = 10 grams). Made from freshly sprouted organically grown grains, Ezekiel 4:9 is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and natural fiber with no added fat or sugar.
2. Dave’s Killer Bread 21 Whole Grains and Seeds Thin-Sliced
Dave's Killer Bread's best-selling bread, 21 Whole Grains and Seeds, now offers a thin-sliced option that's lower in carbs and calories. While their original version has 22 grams of carbs per slice, Dave's Killer Bread 21 Whole Grains and Seeds Thin-Sliced has only 12 grams of carbs and 3 grams of dietary fiber per slice (net carbs = 9 grams). Both versions are organic and the thin-sliced version still delivers 140 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and 13 grams of whole grains per 60 calorie slice.
3. Mikey’s Hearty Sliced Bread
Hearty and healthy, Mikey's clean ingredient list delivers a tasty gluten-free and paleo option. Each slice has 7 grams of carbs and 3 grams of dietary fiber (net carbs = 4 grams), plus you get 6 grams of protein per slice for staying power, mainly because the first ingredients are "eggs" and "almond flour." A best pick for an allergy free option, Mikey's Hearty Sliced Bread is also free of grain, dairy and soy.
4. SOLA Deliciously Seeded Low Carb Bread
SOLA Deliciously Seeded Low Carb Bread has just 9 grams of carbs and 5 grams of dietary fiber per 80 calorie slice (net carbs = 4 grams). Each slice provides 6 grams of protein for staying power and is sweetened with Monk Fruit and Stevia Leaf. SOLA's other bread options, Golden (White) Wheat and Sweet Oat, also have 4 grams or less of net carbs per slice. The bread will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks at room temperature, and can be stored frozen for up to 6 months. The company recommends freezing shortly after receiving, and remove from freezer as needed.
5. Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat
If you're looking for a soft sandwich bread that offers whole grain nutrition, Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat bread has 11 grams of carbs and 2 grams of dietary fiber (net carbs = 9 grams) per 60 calorie slice. With no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, you reap the benefits of 13 grams of whole grain per serving.
6. Seedy Low Carb Bread Recipe
Almond flour is often the base for low-carb, gluten-free, and Paleo bread recipes that most resemble the taste and texture of a grain-based bread. This Seedy Low Carb Bread recipe is made with almond flour, psyllium husk powder, three types of seeds (sunflower seeds, sesames seeds, and ground flax seeds), eggs, full fat Greek yogurt, baking powder, and sea salt. Each hearty 130 calorie slice has 8 grams of carbs and 5 grams of dietary fiber (net carbs = 3 grams), plus you get 5 grams of protein and 10 grams of mainly healthy unsaturated fat for staying power in each slice.
7. Wasa Multi Grain
For some extra crunch and wholesome ingredients with limited carbs, try Wasa Multi Grain crispbread. Each slice has 11 grams of carbs and 2 grams of dietary fiber (NET carbs = 9 grams). The combination of four grains (rye, wheat, oats and barley) provides 12 grams of whole grains and only 45 calories per slice. If you're looking for a gluten-free option, try the Wasa Gluten-Free Original crispbread with 9 grams of carbs and 1 gram of dietary fiber per slice (net carbs = 8 grams).
8. La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Whole Wheat Tortillas
From corn to wheat to Ancient grains, La Tortilla Factory offers an array of wholesome tortillas in different sizes. Their Low Carb line of tortillas includes the La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Whole Wheat Original Size, with 11 grams of carbs and 8 grams of dietary fiber (net carbs = 3 grams) per 50 calorie wrap. Plus, each tortilla packs in 5 grams of protein and has zero sugar, hydrogenated oils or fake dyes.
9. Portobello Mushroom Bun
A low-carb replacement for a hamburger bun, a portobello mushroom has just 3 grams of carbs and 1 gram of dietary fiber (net carbs = 2 grams) per 20 calorie piece. A brown crimini mushroom in disguise (once a small brown crimini grows in size to 4 to 6 inches in diameter, it is considered a portobello), mushrooms provide over a dozen vitamins and minerals, as well as several powerful antioxidants for good health. Whether you choose to grill or bake them, portobello mushrooms provide a more substantial mouthfeel as compared to other bread alternatives.
10. Lettuce Leaf Wraps
For a carb-free option, hydrating lettuce wraps are an easy swap to make and require no prep time. Big iceberg lettuce leaves can make fresh, flexible wraps that offer a nice crunch, as well as the crisp ridge in the center of romaine lettuce, which provides a natural "folding" line for a taco. Depending on your filling of choice, Bibb or butter lettuce can work well too.